All Images Credit Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris.
For some of us, at a time like this, to think about travel could be considered frivolous. But we know that although the days ahead may be tough, we will get through this. Our lives will never be the same, but we will get through it. And when we do, we will mourn, reflect, and then celebrate and enjoy life again. Part of the way we enjoy living again is to experience new places and to renew our love of travel.
Until then, we can still dream, plan and even research what’s next for us and to refine our Travel To Do List. One of those experiences must be to spend time in nature. I hope that my article on the Australian Outback will be an inspiration for you to go there one day yourself, or if not, for now, to take a mini vicarious vacation there when you read the article.
Stay well and once we’re on the other side of this, I hope that you will #keeptraveling.
One cannot think of Australia without thinking of an adventure in the Outback. Images of quickly come to mind of Crocodile Dundee with his eight-inch bowie knife and Akubra hat traipsing through the wild brush amongst the kangaroo and koala bears and then sleeping under a blanket of stars in the middle of the wilderness. That stereotype is somewhat inaccurate, yet the outback is however, a place of unmatched natural beauty with an incredible wildlife and breathtaking landscapes to explore. An ideal way to experience the Australian Outback is with a bespoke safari tour and glamping holiday provided by Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris.
What most will immediately notice in the outback is the solitude. This is not the place for dreadful tour busses and hordes of tourists jockeying for a position to take an Instagram photo at the same landmark. The Outback is the polar opposite and a serene place where seeing another tourist is the exception versus the norm. That serenity is the luxury where video games are replaced with nature walks and where Netflix is pleasantly replaced with gazing through clear night skies at a sea of stars so bright that they seem close enough to touch.
There are different interpretations of the origins of the term Outback. Some will say it is from the US and the term for a place behind the backyard of a house. Others state the it’s the imaginary line that divides where agriculture has a chance of growing and where the rest cannot be cultivated due to low levels of rain and lack of arable soil. Others will say the term is Australian to define arid, uninhabited central areas in the central part of the country. No matter the origin, the Outback is located throughout Australia far from populated areas, with arid lands, scrub brush, red ochre colored sand, with bright blue skies and cotton white clouds. The wildlife is plentiful as well with exotic birds, dingoes, several species of kangaroos and mini tank-like wombats.
The Gawler Ranges are a pristine outback region located in the South Australia territory and short plane ride from Adelaide. The area is 400 square miles and filled with large hills, rocky gorges and gullies, red ochre colored plains, abundant wildlife and beautiful vistas. The flora and fauna are beautiful as well from scrub and spiky bushes to its most iconic floral beauties, the Sturt’s Desert Pea with is wandering vines, blood red flowers and blackberries.
The ranges are ideal for wandering about and just enjoying the solitude and being immersed in nature. The Gawler Ranges are best known for the Organ Pipes which are volcanic rhyolite formations or in layman’s terms, soaring column like rock formations created from volcanic eruptions 1500 million years ago. These unusual rocks are some of the largest of this classification in the world.
The other equally spectacular icon of the Gawler Ranges is Lake Gairdner which is a bone-dry and brilliant-white salt lake surrounded by red dirt hills and mountains. Other than the few months of the rainy season, there are no gray rain clouds so the skies above are rich light blue dotted with fluffy white clouds. The massive salt lake is 100 miles long and 30 miles wide and is so perfectly flat that it is the site for drag strip races and speed record attempts. The lake is amazing to see and explore walking across as the sound of the salt crunches under foot.
The Gawler Ranges has plentiful wildlife to admire as well from the Red, Western Gray and Euro kangaroos, dingoes as well as the southern hairy-nosed wombat, hopping mice and the endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby. Birders love the area as well as there are 140 species of birds including the pink cockatoo and the scarlet breasted parrot, plentiful emus, wedge-tailed eagle, and the singing honeyeater.
Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris provides the optimal experience in the Australian Outback. Guests will also want to experience their guided tours and a few nights at their Kangaluna glamping camp. This is a first-rate tour company with 4WD vehicles ideal for getting around the rough brush as well as the sandy roads throughout the parks and surrounds. Service is top notch with friendly, dedicated, and well-informed guides who have an incredible depth of knowledge about the park as well as the natural sites, flora and fauna and where to find the often-elusive animals.
While on tour, guest visit the Lake Gairdner and learn about the lake itself, seasonal rains and changing landscapes. After a walk exploring the lake, the visit ends with a delicious outdoor lunch overlooking the lake.
Other tours include an evening safari when the wildlife is most active spotting the various types of kangaroos as well as the illusive wombat and getting up close to their man-sized burrows. Nature walks include visiting the impressive cigar shaped volcanic rock formations, named due to their resemblance to Organ Pipes. Along the way guests will stop to see the ochre pits of yellow, red, and brown soft rocks used by the aboriginal people as part of their tribal ceremonies.
At the end of the day, the small group of guests retreat to a nearby Sturt’s Lake to take in the kaleidoscope of colors in the sunset while enjoying a sundowner of canapes and exquisite local wines.
The Kangaluna Camp is seamlessly set amongst the spectacular scenery and wildlife so expect to see all types of bird life including emu, budgerigars, cockatoos, corellas, galahs and the brightly colored Mallee ringneck and Port Lincoln parrots near your tent or at the water trough just outside the main tent. The host for your stay is the affable proprietor Geoff Scholz or his right-hand woman, Rosie, who gleefully share their love the wilderness and outback with guests. You’ll quickly feel at home with your hosts and other guests who share a common area of the mess hall tent for long tables meals and after dinner drinks around the campfire.
For dinner, you’ll want to raise your expectations well beyond hotdogs, beans, and smores. The meals are served in the central dining area on long tables lit by candles. The gourmet home-cooked dinner offers a delicious steak or seafood with local side dishes accompanied by exquisite local wines.
Owners, Geoff and Irene Scholz
The main dish for the meal is a heaping serving of adventures regaled with other guests. Geoff and Rosie augment the long dinners chats with a lifetime of their own stories and outback adventures that assure a memorable evening. After your meal, guests are welcomed to join around a campfire for an after-dinner chat and more wine. Others will wander off to take in the incredible night skies and the brilliant sea of stars. With so little light pollution in this uninhabited area, visibility is ideal and through the camp’s telescope guests can see the constellations as well as Saturn, Jupiter, and close ups of the craters of the moon.
When it is time to turn in for the night, guests need not worry about roughing it. The large African style safari tents are nicely furnished with two bedrooms, one with queen bed and one with two twin beds, as well as a private bathroom with rainwater shower. The rooms offer an inviting space with rustic furnishing handmade from reclaimed wood as well as Rosie’s lovely design touches. Rosie is an accomplished wildlife artist and has her prints located throughout.
The tents are under a curved metal roof which helps cool the tent. There are only three tents which accommodated a maximum on 12 guests, all of which are spaced far apart to provide guests with privacy.
Some travelers go for exotic beaches while others prefer a posh cosmopolitan city. And then there’s the other traveler who seeks out adventures in the wilderness far off the over beaten trail. Way down under in the Australian it back is such a place custom made for that restless traveler. An ideal way to take in the beauty of the Australian Outback is glamping and tours provided by the Gawler Ranges Wilderness Safaris.