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on the run, on my own: “even australians count this as the outback”

I always like the window seat when I fly anywhere. I pretend it’s because I’m scared  of flying (I am genuinely scared of flying but I could be sat on the pilot’s knee and I’d still be terrified) but it’s really because I like looking out of the window when we’re nearing the destination so I  can try and get the first glimpse of the place I’m heading to.

Luckily I got the window seat when I flew from Sydney to Alice Springs. I thought I’d seen Sydney Harbour from every single angle but I hadn’t seen it from the air. It was beautiful.

As the miles flew by and I travelled the equivalent of England inland, I was pretty much glued to my window. I’ve always secretly judged people who have taken pictures from plane windows but there was no way I was missing views like this:

Image: Jo Williams

Image: Jo Williams

I’m on a Working Holiday Visa, which entitles me to one year in Australia. But if I work for three months in a rural region I get the chance to extend my Visa for one more year, which is why you’ll find tons of British backpackers falling over themselves for farm jobs across Australia.

I joined WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) when I first got to Australia because I thought it would be a great way to see the country, get off the beaten track a little and to get my three months for my Visa extension. I got in contact with a woman who worked on a cattle farm “near” Alice Springs and next thing I knew, I’m in the middle of nowhere in a place where the cattle outnumber the people 200 to one.

There’s nothing really to prepare you when you go from city to nowhere in three hours but the Outback is definitely the most interesting place I’ve ever been in my entire life. And I can officially say it’s the Outback. The true Outback.

‘Even Australians count this as the Outback,’ said the station owner.

I feel incredibly lucky to be out here because I know that I’m witnessing things that 98% of the people I know will never experience. It’s still odd to think about how much I’ve actually done here that I’ve never done before. I’ve sat in a painting hut and watched an aboriginal artist paint me the most stunning picture while she answered every question I had about her culture. And believe me, I had a lot.

Pictured: Sally Kemara Perkins / Image: Jo Williams

Pictured: Sally Kemara Perkins / Image: Jo Williams

I got a front row seat to a true cattle mustering and watched a pilot manoeuvre a chopper to catch a cow that decided she didn’t want to go into the yard just yet. I’ve seen the Milky Way and a whole new set of constellations that I’ve never seen before. I’ve eaten a steak from a cow that I saw get shot the day before (interesting, but I don’t want a repeat viewing). I’ve seen a dingo run in front of the ute I was driving in. I’ve even sold a frozen kangaroo tail to someone. That’s right … a frozen kangaroo tail.

I’ve only got a week or so left here and while I’m enjoying it a lot, there are some things I won’t miss. The fact that there are eight people to talk to and you’re not going to have something in common with them all and tensions sometimes run pretty high. Some days are quite slow. All power goes off at half past ten, so if you’ve not got your torch or Kindle charged up, you’re snookered. The moths here are massive. And don’t forget the redback spiders that lurk on the shelves you’re cleaning.

But that all pales in comparison when you get to see sunset like this.

Image: Jo Williams

Image: Jo Williams

Or when you look up and see the stars and the white wisps of the Milky Way.

Or when you see the colours of the red dirt changing in the sun.

Or when you watch a flock of cockatoos take flight across the sky.

Image: Jo Williams

Image: Jo Williams

Or when you realise how far away from everything you are.

Being on your own isn’t always a scary thing.

I never thought I was the kind of girl who took things for granted but being out here has put a lot of the things I think and worry about into perspective. It may sound like a cliché but it’s hard not to learn something new about yourself when you’re in a place as extreme as this.

Now I’m not saying I’m going to pack up all my stuff and trek off into the bush and live off goanna and bush onion stew but I honestly think this could be one of the best things I’ll ever do on my travels.

Next up, I’m going to Uluru, and then taking a historic 24 train journey through the centre of Australia back to civilisation.

But until then, if you need me, well, there’s not much I can do about that!

Image: Jo Williams

Image: Jo Williams

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