The thing about the Pilgrimage to Uluru is that someone’s got to go ahead and make a place for all the Pilgrims to come to. That task falls to the intrepid group of explorers known as the Basecampers. Basecampers are a strange breed, with many strange habits. We are readers, thinkers, philosophers, planners, tea drinkers, youth workers, housekeepers, and web designers. And we all have to do hard labour in the hot sun.
Volunteering for Basecamp is volunteering for the unknown. It’s like running into a strange dream where nothing makes sense, you travel for several days and then suddenly you have to build a town. Luckily over the 16 years that Pilgrimage to Uluru has been happening we’ve built up quite a collection of tents, caravans, pegs and bits of rope that we can actually make it all work.
So here’s a bit of our journey.
Beginning in Tasmania (yes, that far away), a van full of stuff and Steve travelled to Melbourne, picked up a Chris, then headed on over to Adelaide. In Adelaide we picked up Aidan, Nathaniel, Phiona, Biz, Sue and even more stuff. A whole other van appeared, carrying a Dave, and we met up with a car and a Rodney in Kapunda. Then the actual journey began.
From Kapunda to Coober Pedy on Day 1, took 9 people, 3 vehicles and 9 hours. With a few stops along the way, and one particularly big storm.
One of the things that you have to prepare for when travelling through the desert for a few days, is the weirdness. Not Wolf Creek style weird, just landscape weird. Australia is weird. You can begin your morning driving through rolling hills of green, then on the shore of a beautiful blue harbour, then suddenly it’s Mad Max and you’re living in a cave. We ended Day 1 in Coober Pedy, and slept* underground as we mentally prepared ourselves for the 4am start on Day 2.
*HAHAHAHAHAHHAHA it was so hot as if anyone slept.
Day 2 went by in an under slept fever dream. We drove for many many hours before stopping for Breakfast at regular breakfast time. It took about 7 hours to get from Coober Pedy to Yulara, our home base, and when we arrived we were greeted by air-conditioned caravans, hot tea, and all the opportunity in the world to nap.
Lol, no. We were greeted by empty space, hot sun, and 3 days hard labour.
But more on that next post!
Give the camp blogger a drill and you wont get an update for days. I still have the bruises to prove it.
So setting up this thing is a massive task. We’ll be living here for a month, and through 16 years of experience we’ve managed to learn (sometimes the hard way) what is necessary to live a normal, basic existence. For some of us that means good wifi and plentiful supply of TimTams.
For others shelter is more important.
Either way, Basecamp involves setting up five caravans, two annexes, three tents, two marquees, two ovens, two fridges, a washing machine and a kitchen sink. At the end of the process, which takes 2 days at minimum and many many more if we get blessed with rain or extreme heat, it looks a little bit like this:
Our mini village is our home, and despite all the work that goes into it (*rubs bruises; treats sunburn*) it’s worth it for the little life that we live here each year.
Apologies for the delay on this one folks, but here is an update from our final 3 days of the Pilgrimage!
Day 10 (Tuesday) was a really relaxing and special day for us all. We had a shorter drive to Broken Hill so we were able to take our time a bit more, enjoying the sights and each others’ company. Once we arrived in Broken Hill we had a lot of time to kill so we had a refreshing 2 hour chill time at a playground with coffees in hand (both of which the leaders were very thankful for!) and amazing play equipment for those extra energetic people to have some fun!
On Sunday morning (day 8) we awoke at the glorious hour of 4.30am in order to make our way to a lookout for the Dawn Service (at sunrise) with all the other pilgrims. Wide awake and kicking (I joke) we arrived at the lookout, only to find we were early! (oops)…. but when all the other buses arrived we made our way up the small hill to watch the sun rise over Uluru. The view was breathtaking.
Hey Errybody! Here is an update on days 6 & 7 from the Western Sydney bus! These two days were particularly special as we were at the rock and got to hang out with all the other pilgrims from around the country!
Day 6 (Friday) was the day we got to go up close to Uluru and touch it! We went on the Mala walk, which goes a couple of kilometres around the base of the rock, and along the way we heard some Dreamtime stories (or Creation stories, as the Indigenous folk prefer to call them) and a bit of history behind the rock and it’s significance to the Anangu people. This was a pretty exciting time for us to be up close and personal with the amazing monolith that we’d travelled so far to see! We also got to spend a bit of time reflecting in silence at Kanju Gorge at one point in the walk. Was a great opportunity to stop and reflect on all we’d seen and learnt so far and just take in the massiveness of the rock.
How do you even pack such a huge weekend into a single blog post? By not even trying. This is the part where we talk about the weekend in a few key chunks. Chunk no. 1 is the sequel (confusing, I know) to this post.
Why do we put up a big circus tent? Why is it important that we do? Well, allow us to show you.