I wrote this about three solo tours ago and haven’t had internet access and/or time to update since then. Still as tiring but more routine now.
Backpackers. Hmm. We don’t have a stellar relationship, as a rule. They think I am boring and not laid back enough; I think they should have been spanked more as children. We are both right.
The trip went well enough, I guess. I didn’t bother to read the comment forms as I knew they would only upset me. I worked my arse off for them and I know they didn’t appreciate it.
I was up at 3.00 the first day, to pack my bus ready for a 5.00 am departure. I drove 500kms to Yulara and then did lunch, airport pickups and the usual afternoon things (walk, cultural centre, sunset viewing) before cooking dinner and washing up.
Show swag, sleeping bag and pillowcase and instruct in use. Point out extra blankets. Repeat relevant information at least ten times and then sneak off to own bed, carefully hidden around a corner. Sleep that night by 9.30, after listening to a large group of young drink around the campfire, without any desire to join them.
Next day up at 4 for a 5.30 wakeup – breakfast to be laid out, bus to be packed, sunrise viewing to happen. Much moaning from pax about how cold they were the night before. Note the totally untouched bags of blankets without surprise. Instruct again on disposal of swags, sleeping bags, pillows etc. Reroll several swags, move sleeping bags, move pillowcases of the people who have totally failed to understand/listen.Then drive and a guided walk through Kata Tjuta.
Back to camp for lunch.
Drive, drive, drive for about four hours. Pickup wood on the way and load onto trailer top. Get to campsite and start to unload wood, food etc. Make fire. Cook on fire. Wash up; no helpers at all. Fall into bed, exhausted. Listen to dingos howl in the distance and hope, viciously, that at least one of your passengers gets eaten.
4 wake-up. Prepare breakfast. Threaten, bully and harass to achieve the seemingly impossible feat of getting 24 surly, non-early risers to pack, eat and get on the bus in an hour.
Drive 30 mins and listen to complaints about the cold. Encourage, cajole and threaten to get everybody up the first hill (affectionately known as Heart Attack Hill), whilst trying not to die myself – these kids are about thirty years younger than I am!
Take a three hour walk around the rim of King’s Canyon and constantly run back and forth between the slower and faster members of the party, trying desperately to keep everybody together so that I can impart a little knowledge at various points. Plead with, threaten and finally don’t look at, all the thrill seeker selfie posers balancing on the lip of the canyon: decide that maybe Darwin was onto something and that these people are doing the gene pool a favour with their risky actions.
Drive to fuel up bus again; back to camp for lunch (but not having time to eat any myself) and then start five and a half hour drive back to Alice Springs. Glance wistfully in the mirror at the entire exhausted busload happily snoozing away, interspersed with watching the DVDs put on for them. Reflect that I can pick up a lot of a movie just by the dialogue. Constantly turn the aircon off, due to background pleas of coldness, but I am roasting through the huge front window of the bus. Only turn the aircon on when I am feeling sleepy from the heat.
Hand out trip reports and know that they won’t be good.
Drop off in Alice Springs, backtracking several times due to one way streets and people not knowing exactly where they want to be.
Go home, drink wine, pass out.