After a picturesque drive through country Victoria and the vineyards of South Australia, we began the 13 hour drive up through the centre of Australia. It's a 2 day journey on a straight road and extremely isolated. There's hardly anything between you and the horizon for 2 days straight. Nothing. Nada. Not a cracker. Diddlysquat. It's an exceptionally beautiful journey though. The red dirt, the salt bush and the sheer nothingness as far as the eye can see is mesmerising. The vastness of the country is truly palpable on this drive, something you really have to experience firsthand to appreciate I think.
There is a petrol station every 200 to 250km but nothing else in between other than these rest areas - which occasionally featured a garbage bin and a cleared space big enough for an impromptu soccer match while I fed Flynn.
The Kids travelled so well. We decided to make the journey up to Alice Springs quicker on the way while everyone was happy in the car and then we could really relax when we got there and then on the way back we will take it much slower and spend some time along the Great Ocean Road.
Flynn is 4 and a half months old and I think we really snuck this trip in at an optimal time to travel with a baby. He is still 100% breastfed which is really convenient while travelling as there was no need to prepare and mash up food. He is still on 3 predictable naps during the day too so happily nodded off in the car when he got tired. We pulled off to the side of the road when he woke up from his naps and wanted a feed and then he was quite happy being back in his capsule with the 2 bigger kids on either side of him keeping him entertained. The actual time he was awake in the car was quite minimal. I can't imagine him being cooped up in his capsule for much longer.
It was a far from quiet journey. There was lots of lively chatter in the car. The twins occupied the back seat and we managed to pick up a bucket of Lego from an op shop on the way which kept them happy for hours. The bigger kids were in the middle row and chatted, played Uno, Car Cricket, there was a new game where they have to make each other laugh, as well as many an hour gazing out the window.
Halfway along the 2 day stretch you come to the largest Opal Mining town in the World where everything including the majority of the homes are underground. Now, I know I gave Coober Pedy a bad rap when we travelled along this stretch on our trip around Australia last year but we did have the most bazaar experience which you can read about here. It is a very different sort of place but the locals are extremely welcoming, some of them we talked to moved to Coober Pedy from the Greek Isles for a better life, if you can imagine. And this time around, with a tribe of dedicated Minecraft fans, this place was heaven on a stick with all it's underground mines and talk of caves, gems, pick-axes and rocks.
I still didn't feel safe sleeping in a tent though so we stayed in the only place that could fit us all in and that was a vacant, underground 20-bed Backpacker dorm.
We enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Tom & Mary's Greek Taverna (as you do in Outback Australia) and Eleanor was especially pleased that the Tooth Fairy was still able to visit underground, leaving a couple of rough opals instead of a 50 cent coin.
We had another day of driving the following morning, spotting a couple of Wedge-Tailed Eagles and a rare Dingo sighting before finally arriving in Alice Springs.
The Kids were clearly very happy at the prospect of a 7-day break from the car while we take in some sights of the Red Centre. I hope you are all having a lovely week.
PS All photos were taken on the iPhone so apologies to anyone following along on Instagram who may have already seen many of these shots.