Tag Archives: Outback

Toowoomba’s Hawaiian Connection

I awoke early the next morning and set off for the Greyhound terminal to buy a return ticket from Brisbane to Toowoomba. I was on my way to meet Yvonne, who was a friend of a friend. It sounds crazy to travel miles out of the way to visit someone you don’t even know, but these little detours are the best part about traveling.

During my last semester of college, I interned at the Hawaiian Humane Society under a lovely woman named KT. I really enjoyed the time I spent with her (and her dogs) and kept in touch after I graduated. When she found out that I was heading off to Oz, she put me in contact with Yvonne, who had lived in Hawaii for many years but had returned home to Australia. And now, after really short notice due to the fact that I didn’t have internet connection for a while, I going to Yvonne’s house for two nights.

The bus ride to Toowoomba was as fine as any bus ride could be, and before I knew it I was there. I was a little worried about finding Yvonne because I had no idea what she looked like. However, I was the most likely person to be from Hawaii on the bus so odds were that Yvonne would find me. And she did.

Yvonne was as sweet as she sounded on the phone. She was about my height with short blonde hair and a warm, welcoming smile. She took me out to the car where her brother-in-law was waiting, and they took me on a short tour of the town. Afterward, we picked up her sister-in-law and headed off for the western Queensland outback and lunch at the Brookstead Pub.

Authentic Aussie outback restaurant and bar

Authentic Aussie outback restaurant and bar

The Queensland outback was different from the Red Center because the land was mostly used for farming here. There were wide-open plains for crops and silos filled with grains. Every now and then, a small community of homes would pop up. After driving for an hour or so, we reached Brookstead Pub, a traditional Aussie outback bar and restaurant. It served as a gathering place for the people in the area, and we’d arrived to rousing games of lawn bowling and bingo. The four of us chatted over a delicious lunch before returning to Toowoomba.

Interior of Brookstead Pub

Interior of Brookstead Pub

Back at Yvonne’s sister’s home, we shared a bottle of wine and her other sister came to visit. It was extremely nice being away from the hostel environment. Even though it’d only been a week since I left Sharon’s home in Sydney, it felt like ages since I sat at a real sofa or around a real dining table. The company was also much more authentic than at the hostels and it was nice to see the banter among the family. There were no pretenses and jokes flowed naturally. Sooner than I would have liked, it was time to go and so Yvonne and I said our goodbyes and headed off to her home.

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Sunrise and Sunset at Uluru

Many people make the trek to Uluru to see the incredible sunrise or sunset and how it changes the color of the rock. Unfortunately, it was cloudy the day we went so nothing magnificent or earth shattering happened.

But there’s always a silver lining to every story.

Even though Uluru didn’t light up, the skies above us did. The sunrise created spectacular yellows, golds, pinks and oranges on the clouds. I’d never seen anything like it before.

It must have been because the sky is so huge in Australia’s Outback. There’s just so much of it. They should call this big sky country instead of Montana. Although, who knows? Maybe sunrises in Montana are just as amazing.

Slide Album: Uluru

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Stars Over Marla

After leaving Coober Pedy, our next overnight stop was in a small town called Marla. This was the first opportunity to roll out our sleeping bags. The camp was in a secluded area that we only had to share with another Adventure Tours group. It was exciting because this was my idea of the Outback, and we were finally here.

The campsite consisted of several permanent tents, a main kitchen tent with a stove and running water and a shower and toilet block. When we arrived, it was already getting dark and we could hear dingoes howling in the distance. We split up in groups of four and claimed a tent. My tent mates were Alba from Spain and Corinne and Freddy from Germany. Inside the tents there were wooden bunks with thin mattress pads. We had our choice of this or sleeping outside under the stars.

Corinne and I decided to take a shower while we could still find our way back to camp. We didn’t want to get lost in the bush after dark. Who knew what kinds of animals were out there (although I was more concerned with the spiders than anything else)? The showers and toilets were in decent condition considering we were camping. Most importantly, there were no bugs and the showers had hot water.

Jason whipped up a stir fry for dinner, which was really awesome. I was happily surprised with our meals on this section of the tour. They were a lot more substantial (but so was the hiking) than sandwiches with cold cuts. After dinner, most of us went back to our tents to sort out our sleeping situations. Some people, like Alba and Freddy, hung out by the fire and chatted with the other tour group.

Here in the Outback, the sky seemed enormous. There wasn’t any artificial light to pollute the sky like there is in the city and it was a clear, cloudless night. I had never seen so many stars in my life. I wish I could’ve taken a photo of it (I tried but it didn’t come out) because it was really amazing. There were hundreds of stars – some big and bright, some small and twinkly – and I could’ve spent hours just looking at them.

It really made you feel tiny as you looked at the vastness of space. I was never really a star gazer and can’t even name more than one constellation, but the sky was truly inspiring. There’s no other word for it than WOW! This is the kind of experience I was looking for and one that I’ll always remember.

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Filed under Accommodation, Australia, Travel