: Outback Wandering

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Charlotte O'Neill hit the road less travelled, driving way out into the outback.
unspecified-13 unspecified-12 unspecified-11 unspecified-10In the desert, we found watermelons. Hundreds of them, lining the sides of the road. I instantly pulled the car over, running out and touching the fruit that seemed to utterly out of place on the edges of this dusty old 4wd track. But that’s the beauty of the desert – the endless surprises. The hope of waterholes and oases, or bizarre hardy animals sauntering on the edges of heat waves. The ground splits and hurts my feet, but for the curious this land is addictive.

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Wandering through the rock sculptures of Mungo National Park literally feels like walking in a riverbed – which is what it once was. Home to Australia’s oldest archaeological find, Mungo Man, the site is a wasteland with fossils laying above ground and lots and lots of sand.

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During the day you begin to wonder why it is that people visit here, and then the evening comes and brings with it all the still coolness of the Winter you thought didn’t exist out here, and you realise why you came. Which is almost a good way of describing the whole journey – hot, dry, tough conditions that leave you feeling empty, without that sense of ‘fulfilment’ sought after by travellers. A feeling that as your experience turns to memory leaves you with a sense of peace. This is no quick fix, no Ubud dreaming, but it does something for the soul that I find is only given in the most remote areas of earth, the ones that are so quiet that one is forced to be fully alone in the best way possible.

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Words and photography Charlotte O Neill

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