Life in the outback opens up a whole new set of everyday experiences.
The sunrises and sunsets are almost always stunning. My camera’s memory is full of photo upon photo of the sun coming up and going down, but it still doesn’t get old. When the horizon seems to go on forever and your line of sight includes Australia’s most amazing natural wonders, it’s easy to see why. Even in between the morning and evening this place is hard to take for granted (even though I probably do, especially when I’m up at 4:30am for an early work shift and wishing I could be doing anything else…until the sun rises of course and I remember why I love this place).
During the day, if it’s sunny, the sky is a blue that you just don’t get in the big cities. Even on a rainy day, the Rock is covered in silver waterfalls barreling down every crevice. And at night: I have never seen so many stars. Apparently when you’re not surrounded by pollution you can actually see the Milky Way, plus whole other galaxies that look like clouds in the sky. For our guests at Longy, our guides do a ‘star talk’ and show them the Southern Hemisphere’s constellations, so thanks to them I know where the Southern Cross is and have seen all the zodiac signs that are currently in the sky – things I had never seen before.
Then there’s the wildlife. First there are the flies. Step outside and it’s like your face is covered in honey. They seem to fly straight for my eyes, nose, ears and mouth. I try not to think about how many I’ve swallowed. The extra protein in my diet isn’t worth the unpleasant feeling of an insect hitting the back of my throat. Trust me. Even the ants around here aren’t normal – here you get Inch Ants. No prizes for guessing why they got their name. On top of that are the endless grasshoppers, giant centipedes, and the oh-so-aromatic Stink Bug. There are plenty of things out here that eat all the little critters, but I’m not sure that’s any better since half of them can take down a human any day they feel like it too. Why a bug that only needs to kill tiny flies and ants has enough venom to take down any man is beyond me. Maybe the most literal sense of overkill ever…
First there are the snakes. So far I’ve come across a Western Brown Snake (NOT a snake you want to annoy) and what was apparently a Whip Snake jumping across my path. And I thought snakes only slithered… The emergency call list in the office includes the numbers for the local fire department, medic centre, police, and snake catcher.
Then my favourite: spiders. It is amazing how much I have been forced to quell my usually uncontrollable arachnophobia. When a six inch long Hunstman suddenly crawls onto a table at dinner in the restaurant, I have to act like the cool, calm employee that has everything under control. Inside I’m screaming, but never have I exhibited such restraint around an eight-legged thing. Lately there’s been an outbreak of Golden Orb spiders – apparently harmless but I’d still rather keep my distance, and this past week whilst walking into a bathroom I looked up to see four Redbacks, one of which was getting ready to lay her eggs. The larger female Redback spiders are barely one centimeter long, but one bite would definitely ruin your day. I just found out that these little things can take down lizards 20 times their size, and the females eat the males WHILE they’re mating. Not a creature you want to annoy…
Some of the wildlife here is a lot more entertaining. Like the Blue Tongue Lizards, the really cute little Thorny Devils, the occasional dingo or herd of wild camels and the ever-colourful birds.
The pigeons and squirrels in London are never going to hold quite the same charm…
** Unfortunately I’m having trouble uploading photos onto WordPress at the moment, so please check out the links below for all my photos including the wildlife!
Kings Canyon – blog post coming soon