Sleeping Under the Stars in Central Australia
Updated: Jun 15, 2020
Guest Post by Alisha Amin Central Australia, a vast area of land, bigger than many whole countries, and home to the Simpson Desert. This desert, similar to what one would imagine mars to be like, consists of huge stretches of red sand and rock as far as the eye can see, scattered with small towns and kangaroos, and is the land of the aboriginals.
Photo Credit: Alisha Amin
Trip to Australia
During my five week trip to Australia, the one experience that had a resounding impact on me was my drive through central Australia. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced before; a landscape so dry, hostile and expansive - yet filled with an infinite amount of tradition, stories and lessons.
Talking to the native people really brought home just how important this land really is and I was fascinated by the traditions that the land held along with the significance of landforms such as Uluru and Kata Tjuta. These two ginormous red glowing land masses hold such significance in the culture and religion of the aboriginals and their ancestors and it was a great privilege to be able to hear first hand about their meanings.
Photo Credit: Alisha Amin @AlishaAbroad As we approached, even from miles away, the ominous looming presence of Uluru and Kata Tjuta was undeniable, like enormous boulders, lifting from the earth’s surface overcasting anything in its surrounding. They face each other, almost as if they are preparing to fight, and although in the midday heat they look incredible, nothing can prepare you for viewing Uluru at sunrise or sunset.
Photo Credit: Alisha Amin @AlishaAbroad
At sunrise, they have a spectacular purple colour and by sunset, they glow, a fiery red hot almost monstrous glow, both, a sight like no other. When staying in the outback, we decided to try out a new experience, being in the desert was a unique enough experience so why not experience it to the fullest? We decided to stay in a swag.
This word probably doesn’t mean much to you now, nor did it to me before I went on this epic adventure, however now the word ‘swag’ connotes a feeling of being completely harmonious with nature, a feeling of peace and contentment and hundreds of unforgettable memories.
A swag is similar to a large sleeping bag, however is made of a strong canvas material with an inbuilt soft mattress. We each had our own swag along with a pillow and every night we built a campfire and arranged our swags surrounding it. Night time temperatures in the desert can drop to about five degrees, but these swags keep you toasty and are surprisingly comfortable.
Like many, lying on the ground in the cold was not my idea of a good time, so it might be surprising that this was one of my favourite experiences I have ever had. The dry air in the outback means that there are no mosquitos and the tundra like temperatures also prevent animals from walking around in the dark, plus the swags are incredibly warm, so its not all bad! After a long day hiking around nearby rock formations, coming back to the camp and reminiscing over the day’s events whilst toasting marshmallows on the fire was heavenly. One of the most magical, unique things about finding yourself trying to fall asleep on the desert floor in a swag, is being able to look up directly at the sky.
It was the most humbling experience, to look up into the dark sky, in pin drop silence and see thousands and thousands of stars, burning away and shining, un-interrupted, in the sky. Unlike most other places, there are no tall buildings, no noises of cars or trains and minimal pollution, so stargazing conditions are the closest to perfect you will get.
I am an avid traveller and have been to my fair share of countries and without a shadow of a doubt, I have never seen anything like it. Even now, whenever life gets a bit too hectic, I can recollect those memories and I instantly feel calm and more at peace. That single experience changed my life.
Conversations with Aboriginal People
Another inspiring experience I had in central Australia was talking to the aboriginal people, the proud owners of the land and the people whose ancestors have nurtured and preserved the land for centuries.
The aboriginal way of life is centred upon two main things: respecting and looking after the land and community. The elder in the community told me that aboriginals have a huge amount of respect for the land and in return the land provides them with food, medicines and shelter.
She told me a quote her mother told her and one I would like to share with you – “Country is family, culture, identity. Country is self”.
After hearing this and returning to my swag, I really understood what they meant about how precious the planet really is and how easy it is to take it for granted. If you are planning at trip to the outback, this experience was one that I would definitely recommend, although it might not sound like your cup of tea, it is an incredible experience for people of all ages to experience, whether its for a romantic break or a family holiday, you wont regret it!
Highlighted places would be the base walk around Uluru, the viewpoint at Kata Tjuta and for those who love outdoor activities and hiking, a trip to Kings Canyon. Kings canyon is part of the Watarrka National park, in the southwestern corner of the Northern Territory. The kings canyon rim walk is about 6km however its worth putting on your hiking boots for!
You have stunning views into the depth of the gorge, 270m down. You get a birds eye view of the greenery beneath, and you can even venture down and visit the exotic garden of Eden, a refreshing waterhole, something so scarce and sacred In the dessert.
There is also the option of doing the base walk, and seeing the canyon from the opposite perspective; the red 100m looming over you and casting a much needed shadow from the intense heat. If kiking really isn’t your thing, you can also take scenic helicopter tours over the area, which really lets you appreciate the magnitude and beauty of the canyon.
Photo Credit: Alisha Amin @AlishaAbroad
Transformation in Australia
The contrast between my hectic life in central London, with the solitude and lull of the desert in Australia was an abrupt yet critical awakening for me.
I could not highly recommend a visit to the Simpson desert, and the infamous ‘outback’ it really does live up to its name and will be a lifechanging experience.
I realised the importance of perspective, I realised necessity of silence and I realised the true astounding beauty of plant Earth. Our home. Alisha Amin
48 countries and counting 🌍✈️ Dental student 💉London 🇬🇧
Alisha is a traveller and photographer who lives for her passions. She is currently studying Dentistry in London alongside running her travel Instagram account. She loves the curiosity and anticipation when first stepping foot in a new place - a feeling unrivaled by anything else.
She has recently started a travel Instagram page where she documents her travels and photographs, which you can follow @AlishaAbroad.
Alisha says "I have travelled to 48 countries to date and cannot wait for the rest!"
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