Trekking through the outback of the Northern Territory in Australia it’s easy to understand why the indigenous people enjoyed going on “walkabout” so much. There’s plenty to appreciate, a stark, but beautiful landscape, where long, mountain ranges rise from the plains like waves on an ocean. Their ridgelines are like vertebrae, protruding from the back of the low-lying scrub-land of small trees and bushes common throughout the outback.
Steep-sided, rocky canyons break up these ridges, and bushy valleys with dry river beds cut clefts through them, evidence that it was once a more luscious, damp environment perhaps. Where water is available, it usually collects in small waterholes, punctuating the arid landscape, and offering a welcome relief from the heat of the day to trekkers.
The skies are often clear, which can make the nights quite cool, but also offer a fantastic star filled ceiling for anybody camping out to enjoy. Early morning, and evening are equally stunning, especially when clouds are present. The light from the sun bathes small trees, grasslands and waterholes in a golden or rose-tinted glow, but when it also reflects off the fluffy base of the clouds it becomes particularly spectacular. Their underside can become bright orange, subtle, golden yellows and deep crimsons, often all within a single evening, the colours seep upwards, tinting each cloud in soft hues from bottom to top.
It’s well worth hanging back when trekking in the area, soaking up the views, and getting lost in your own thoughts. When shared with friends, or even strangers on an organised tour the experience is fun. Sometimes however, even for just a few minutes having time to yourself, with the opportunity to enjoy the experience without any disturbance is preferable.
The landscape of Australia, and particularly the Northern Territory seems to fit solo trekking perfectly, it’s ideal for enjoying some alone time. It feels remote, great for spending days navigating the rugged terrain without meeting another person, it’s a place to feel at peace.
However, most people should join an organised group trek, or travel with a group of friends. Navigation is not difficult on recognised trails, and only those skilled with a map and compass should consider travelling away from these. It is also an unforgiving environment, hot during the day, cold at night, water is sparse and the terrain often rugged, it’s not suitable for novices to venture into alone.
It’s possible to enjoy any of the great trails in a group, and still enjoy a little time to yourself; just hang back a little. The bonus is there’ll be others to enjoy a few drinks with in the evenings; the best of both worlds.