Sometimes air conditioning is the best invention on earth. Especially if you do not have one and drive in your campervan through the Australian outback during a 40+ degree heat wave. But this also is part of the down-under experience, so we cranked down our windows and tried to catch some cool draft on our 1,200-kilometer journey to our Colombian friends in Adelaide. Since during our lunch break we were not able to catch any breeze, we had to find a shady spot. Good, that a huge umbrella was on our way …
Although the Parks Radiotelescope is more designed for the observation of the stars, its air-conditioned visitor center was a real blessing, and turned out to be interesting at the same time. The huge parabolic antenna, which is commonly called “The Dish”, played a decisive role in the television transmission of the first moon landing of Apollo 11 in 1969. Because a large part of the live television transmission ran over this receiver in the Australian desert, as the signal was the strongest here. An interesting historical anecdote about “The Dish“, which was incorporated amusingly in the Australian movie of the same name.
Our lunch break on the following day brought us back even further into the past, to the end of the 19th century. At this time, the extensive building complex of the Yanga homestead was built at the lake of the same name. At this time the Yanga Station with its 85,000 hectares was the largest privately owned farm in the southern hemisphere. In 2005, the New South Wales government bought the land and the empty farm, which now serves as an impressive insight about the pioneering era in the Australian Outback.
Even more exciting than any human made attraction was once again mother nature, though. We could admire her all for ourselves in the Murray-Sunset National Park. We started with the salt lakes, also known as Pink Lakes. The lakes get their name from the characteristic colouration that occurs when an algae (Dunaliella salina) are increasingly segregating beta-carotene as the salt content increases. The colouration is most evident in the end of the summer, when the sky is cloudy or at dusk. At our visit, however, the salt crust of the lakes was rather white and hardly dyed.
It was nice then that the local animals helped us to have some alternative experiences. On the one hand there were the kangaroos, which we could admire at our safari (with India behind the steering wheel) at the edge of the road and in the bushes. On the other hand, it was the about one billion flies that fell upon us as soon as we were outside the van. So we can now understand how a cow feels in summer. After our dinner in Kifaru, we were rewarded with an incredible sunset and a clear starry sky above the salt lake.
After five hot days on the road we finally made it, and arrived in the South Australian capital of Adelaide, where we looked forward to a relaxing time with our friends in their beautiful beach house. But fate should give us more exciting days than we thought. For during their home visit to Colombia, a pipe on the upper floor had burst in the house of Alberto and Paulina, and the water had collapsed the ceiling. So instead of in a nice house we met at a nearby campsite, where the seven of us spent the first week in a bungalow.
Here you can find all photos of our desert trip: From Dubbo to Adelaide
Between the subsequent moves into a larger bungalow, an even larger evacuation house and finally back to the still battered house, we tried to spend as much time with our friends as possible and also explore the city. But the enormous heat allowed only short trips and often the beach or shady playgrounds was the most pleasant place to spend the three weeks. Which somehow went by faster than imagined and we already had to prepare for another stage on our big Australia trip. Where this led us, you will learn in the next report.