We normally book our travel independently. But our Australia adventure was planned at the last minute. The time and money constraints got us looking at the various camping safaris offered in the Outback. After researching several companies, we decided upon Way Outback and had a tremendous time.
We booked the slightly more expensive Goanna 4WD trip, tacked on an extra night/day in the MacDonnell range and were thrilled we did. The truck was much nicer and Way Outback’s campsite was far away from the group camps for budget backpackers that stay lit and blast music past midnight. I’m not a party pooper but when you want to see the stars and have to wake at 4:30am, you appreciate a peaceful, dark campsite.
If you like the California deserts and Southwest as much as we do, the “Red Center” is a must see. The entire 1,500km experience was epic: Getting rattled by passing road trains and rescuing broken down drivers on the dirt roads, building campfires and sleeping out under a billion stars in swags, spotting wild camels, dingoes, wallabies and horses in the bush, and hiking through Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), Kings Canyon and the MacDonnells – each a uniquely beautiful scene.
From Alice Springs, we set out early. The truck cruised through Alice Springs and picked up our fellow travelers, including a French couple and their 16-year old daughter, a Swiss mother and her college-aged daughter, two single women from California and London, and four Italian senior citizens who spoke no English and were clearly booked on the wrong tour. The mix of ages and traveler types made for a fun journey.
Our guide, Narelle, taught us all about the natural, Aboriginal, geologic and European history along the way (she cooks a mean Kangaroo Bolognese too!) The campers must pitch in with all of the day’s duties – from breaking camp and loading the truck to cooking dinner and doing dishes. Firewood gathering and fire-making was a highlight. When we tried to help make the fire the first night, we realized that Australians do NOT place rocks in the center of the fire to prop up the firewood – they constantly move the coals and rocks around to heat up the pots of food and water. Narelle set us straight.
Our goal was Uluru (formerly known as Ayer’s Rock) which did not disappoint: Its inexplicable energy and awesome beauty made it one of those bucket-list destinations that it is actually worth traveling half way around the world to see. Even the kids were impressed (or maybe it was the Australian champagne they sampled at sunset…)
The roads were very easy to drive. And I presume it would be easy to book campsites around. And of course, it would have been nice to have a bit more time at some stops and a bit less time at others. But overall, the professionalism and enthusiasm of Narelle and the others at Way Outback made the truck safari an appealing way to cover a lot of ground and have a fantastic time on the way.
Keywords : family travel, family vacation, family holiday, Australia with the family, Outback with the kids