By Gabrielle Lynch
Driving for over eight hours for four consecutive days isn’t everyone’s idea of a holiday. Then you have to consider the endless kilometres of desert and unforgiving climate; the kind of stuff Banjo Patterson wrote of in his bush ballads. A road trip through the Australian outback is hard work and yet, I have found it to be one of my most rewarding adventures.
French novelist Marcel Proust once wrote, “My destination is no longer a place, rather a new way of seeing”. Nothing is more true about my road trip from Sydney to Uluru. Along with two friends, we were making our way across the red centre, to see the iconic Uluru. As impressive as Uluru was – something that really can’t be described – the road trip, in our trusty Subaru – taught us a new way of seeing our homeland. The harrowing emptiness of driving along a never ending road without another living human or create in sight was an unparalleled experience. Yet for all its emptiness, there was always something to capture the imagination. Whether it was the isolation, the quirky towns or the saturated landscape, so intense with colour it seemed like a mirage; the outback was more exciting then I could have ever expected.
As captivating as the outback was during the day, it was at night, when the sky came alive, that we were all mesmerized. Camping was tough, it was cold and uncomfortable but sleeping under the desert sky made all the hard work worth it. The night sky at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park could make even the fiercest sceptic believe in magic. The Milky Way sat proudly in the deep purple night, surrounded by an array of constellations, perhaps most impressive being the Southern Cross. One of the most memorable experiences was wandering through the “Field of Light” Exhibition. Internationally acclaimed artist Bruce Munro designed more then 50,000 stems of coloured lights that begin to bloom as the sun sets. As you walk through the Field of Lights you feel as if you standing in the spilt of the mirror: on one side the natural sky is bustling and on the other, Munro’s brilliant exhibition is shining. The effect is a sensation that forces you to believe the whole world is suddenly space. Above, below and everything in between is an explosion of sparkles. To top it off, you suddenly remember that you are walking across sacred land, brought to life by the 40,000 plus years of Aboriginal stories and culture.
The outback is in our backyard and yet the temptation lies in jumping on a plane and travelling to some exotic destination overseas. I too, am guilty of looking abroad for my next adventure. There was however, something incredibly rewarding in learning about my own country. As if looking within ourselves, the road trip provided me with a unique perspective of the complexity of the Australian outback. Someone said to me when I returned, “Didn’t you just get sick of staring out the window at nothing all day?” For all the emptiness of the Australian Outback, the view out of the window never seemed quite so full.