Flat chat, Pine Gap, in every home a Big Mac
And no one goes outback, that’s that.
“Power and the Passion” – Midnight Oil
I had never been to the outback.
I lived in Australia for twenty five years and not once did I ever get in my car and drive out to see the desert for myself. This is a fact that I now feel both amazed and ashamed by.
When I returned from my recent trek out to Uluru, I asked friends and family, out of curiosity more than anything else, if any of them had ever seen the Australian desert. A handful replied in the affirmative. Considering that 70% of the country is considered arid or desert, it is a bit of a shock when you think about it properly. We consider ourselves Australian in every sense of the world, yet a huge chunk of our own country remains unexplored. And I am as guilty of this as anyone else is.
I wanted to travel overseas for years, but my plans rarely extended to my home turf. As kids, we did trips to places like the Whitsundays, Fraser Island, Wombeyan Caves, Hervey Bay and Adelaide – trips my parents told us that we would one day be thankful for. They were as right as they always are. I look back on those holidays with the fondest of memories, especially that of snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef, the change in which twelve years on I feel would bring tears to any conservationist’s eyes. Adulthood brought with it many trips to Melbourne (although I only recently travelled by car down the Sapphire Coast), Canberra to visit friends, a work trip to Darwin and a drive across Tasmania. When it came to Australia, I considered myself fairly well travelled. I realise now that was just a funny joke, that I was the butt of.
I thank my lucky stars every day to have found myself (or worked towards) this circumstance where I can travel as freely and frequently as I do. Above all else, I am grateful for the most important lesson I have learned in my time living and travelling… Never take what you have at home for granted.
The more I see of Australia, the more I want to see Australia. And as anyone who has seen any photos can attest to, this desire remains self-evident.