I flew the 2000 miles from Sydney to Darwin over the vast, mostly uninhabited, semiarid desert and just saw landscape that was clearly rust or red in color, aptly called the Australian Outback. There are more camels, yes camels, than people. I knew about the kangaroos but was surprised to hear about some million dromedaries. Apparently years ago when they were settling new areas they imported this animal because they could carry more weight and more easily navigate the terrain. The story I heard was that when they were done with the last encampment the handlers were asked to take the camels out back and shoot them, but instead, the men let them free. That year was particularly wet and the camels reproduced, and now double their population every 8 to 10 years. There are only about 250,000 people in the whole of the Northern Territory (3rd largest territory in Australia).
While here I did not see either a kangaroo or a camel but I met some amazing people. Upon leaving the plane in Darwin I asked a young woman about taxis into the city as it was too late for the last shuttle. She kindly invited me to share her cab and made sure the driver dropped me off first and she wouldn’t take any money from me. Fortuitous, huh? Every one I met was incredibly kind, nice and interesting. I walked the city harbor and to the Market in the park where they had the best food trucks! In between these jaunts I took the on/off bus and saw the rest of the town.
After two days I flew to Alice Springs, or Alice as the locals say, in order to take a bus tour out to Uluru. The trip included pick-up at the hotel, a 5 and 1/2 hour drive with a breakfast stop, two walks with a park ranger and a sunset barbeque overlooking the monument. We also had time to see the museum and gift shop before the dark ride home. People are warned not to drive at night due to animals on the road but to my somewhat disappointment we only had to stop for cattle. This was a quick trip that probably amounted to as much time in the air as I was on land, but it was well worth it.