Chapter One - A Town Like Alice
I haven't stayed in a hostel since 1999 and now I know why. But here I am, almost 20 years on, sharing a room (with bed bunks!), with four other women. Oh boy, what have I done?
I've left a dream job, friends and family to live in the Outback. It hasn't been a life long dream, actually the idea only came to me about five weeks ago. I know I'm impulsive, but this is next level.
As soon as my feet hit the ground, I know I've made the right decision. The sun is shinning and my buddy Joey is waiting for me at the airport with a big smile on his face.
In a way, it feels like I've come home. The spiritual heartland of Australia is honestly where I feel most alive.
Home Among the Gumtrees
I can see why my hostel, ‘Alice Lodge’, is called the epicentre of Alice Springs. It's bustling with travellers and tour guides from all over the world.
At first I thought I might be the only person over 30, but I quickly meet a dance teacher from Germany who just turned 50 and for her birthday present to herself, she planned a trip to Uluru. Waking up on her 50th at the foot of the Rock.
Shortly after I meet a string of people either travelling or living in Alice Springs. There are a sprinkle of tour guides living in the backyard of the hostel in 70's style caravans.
It's my new home among the gum trees. Surround by the chirps of galahs, spirited travellers and one very cold swimming pool.
First Night Out
Living in a hostel, you have a constant flow of friends. The revolving door always means there is someone interesting to talk to.
Alice Lodge is a funny mix of travellers and long-term residences. I'm slowly falling into the later and liking it.
Alice's busiest night spot, Monties, is an outdoor pub, set under a solar system of fairy lights. The crowd is creative, spirited and friendly. I head there with new friends from the hostel for a jungle themed party. We are a mix of Australians, Scotts and Brits.
As the night evolves we head to other local pubs. It's pretty obvious I'm a world away from the Coogee Pavilion and the Sydney scene I was once apart of.
This quote really resonates with me. After my first visit all those weeks ago in the Outback, a part of me must have 'paused and reflected' and decided I no longer wanted to be in the majority.
Best decision ever.
Red Centre Adventures
I start working three days after I arrive. My first trip is hosting seventeen people from all over the world, cooking for them while they explore Uluru, Kata Tjuta and King Canon.
We arrive at Yulara, a campsite just near The Rock. The tents are what one might call 3 star glamping, comfortable with beds, but nothing like Longatitude 131, the most gorgeous glamping in the West (fitting enough for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge).
While guests are enjoying sunset drinks overlooking Uluru, a small crew of us run up a near by sand dune to watch the sunset.
I didn't realise at the time, but were on private property, so when a convoy of camels and their cameleer pass in the distance with people on them, Oscar shouts, 'Hide Guys!'.
As we're hiding in the native spinifex grass from the sea of eyes, my sister calls. I answer the phone in a hushed tone, 'What are you doing?' she says, 'I'm hiding from a convey of camels', I say, instantly feeling like a child playing hide and seek.
The thrill of hiding, laughing and doing something cheeky makes me feel like that 10-year old kid playing in her tree house.
As the convey disappears into the sunset we head back, flying down the mountain to prepare dinner.
[This image is of young men in the Pipalyatjara Community. The photo shoot was done for Thread Together]