After a jubilant night in Cairns I found myself and four friends sitting in a hostel for far too long, discussing a list of must-see places in Australia. It felt like we had been everywhere and seen everything, but we decided we couldn’t leave this vast country without a road trip toUluru.

And so we flew to Alice Springs (I’m not Jeremy Clarkson and driving all the way) and picked up a rental car for the five-hour or so journey to the great rock. Leaving the relative civilisation of Alice Springs, little did we know these would be the last normal faces we would see until we reached our destination. Dave, one of my travel buddies, took it upon himself as the alpha male to drive, while Danny, another mate, navigated. The remaining three of us relaxed in the back, took in the scenery and sung along to Kevin bloody Wilson.

An hour or so into the journey we observed Dave driving considerably slower than his normal boy-racer speed. With worried glances from the passengers, Dave looked confidently in the mirror.“Don’t worry guys,” he announced after seeing our concerned little faces. “We’re just a bit low on petrol, should be a station along here soon,” he added, turning the music back up. Looking around into the vast red desert, I thought he was optimistic, however his confidence was reassuring.

With the car cruising we crossed our fingers (and in some cases legs), because we were down to our last pack of Tim Tams, gold dust in this immense space. But alas, Dave was accurate in his prediction, like a true local. That was until we rolled up to a servo and actually saw the locals. Aware that Wolf Creek is a film, this is the closest I have come to real life hillbillies. It was like something from a cartoon, all buck-toothed, wearing token ‘Wife Beater’ vests, sitting on a fence shooting at beer cans on a wall, I couldn’t believe my eyes, it felt like a mirage. Danny took photos as evidence, we knew we’d be laughed out of the next hostel but even we couldn’t comprehend their existence outside a movie.

We filled up on the essentials and Amy even braved the restroom (but came away very abruptly) and we were back on the road, this time with Amy driving and me as navigator.

A little while down the track, staring at the map that had now merged into a big blur of red, I spotted a car pulled over up ahead. We decided to stop and ask for directions.

The guys, sitting in the back, bored from the drive, were now making what can only be described as friendship bracelets from some yarn we had been given by some generous new-age travellers.

As Amy pulled the car over, the guys, now aware we were asking for directions, became extremely agitated. Clearly men don’t ask for directions when lost. After braving the heat to converse with the other car it turned out we were on the right track because the wrong track would be the desert. Having never driven a large vehicle and with a lack of encouragement from the bracelet making ‘guys’, Amy was driving well until she decided to overtake a caravan that was ahead. At the same instance the car behind decided it was safe to overtake as well, causing our side mirrors to collide. This made our car swerve around the road like a snake, luckily our driver was in control.

An hour later we reached Uluru and concurred it was worth the trauma of the expedition, convinced the hills have eyes and taking note never to rent a car that drinks petrol like water again.

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