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Sunday, 30 June 2002
--> Bungle Bungles bush, Travelabout Tour day 4, Australia

I crawled out of my tent this morning at 5.30 in the morning and said "What a beautiful day!" in my utmost British accent. Four grumpy old individuals looked at me and totally disagreed with that. The cold of the morning was the conversation topic of the entire morning. There was a lot of complaining and of course roadtrainloads of "last time when…", "my mother always said…" and "back in those days…"-stories. Too many already!

On another camping spot near us I see a group of Adventure Tours Australia packing their things. I envied them, because there were people my age (a whole group!) who were cranking jokes and having laughs while my group was standing in line for the warm stove and eating breakfast with knifes and forks on plates and covered in fly nets. They even all love Vegemite! Disgusting!

I could not see that much as I was already looking in the first rays of the morning sun coming up behind the horizon, but I heard that other group had quite a party going on this morning. They could even be dancing naked around a morning campfire!

We started the morning with a drive to a helicopter spot where there was an optional ($$$!!!) chance to have a 45 minutes flight over the Bungle Bungles in a helicopter. Three ladies of my gang got in the helicopter and the others all waited at this deserted airstrip until they came back again with partly frozen hands and feet.

Before our lunch at the camping spot we had a nice walk through the Cathedral Gorge, one of the many accessible gorges that go deep into the Bungle Bungles. I find it fascinating, however I got tired of the constant waiting for the slow British who wanted the fifteen minute walk to be graded as 'difficult'. This was flat nothing!

But we ended up at this beautiful amphitheatre styled gorge, where a waterfall would crash down during the wet season. At this moment it was peacefully quiet. Wow.

When I saw enough of it all, I walked the track back again, closely followed by tour operator Dave. I found it very frustrating to be waiting another 45 minutes at the car park until the others finally appeared back at the truck, grumbling and whining again too because "it was a fair long walk"...

I was thinking about what I was thinking yesterday all over again.

After another fly-full lunch we headed for another hike through the Echidna Chasm, which purely exists of conglomerate rock. A rare palm tree family point the way in to the small stony cracks.

I was a bit disappointed when I suddenly reached the end of it already and looked up this steep high wall. Claustrophobics would whoop it up in there!

But for me it was like another simple walk to a lookout and I was a bit looking forward to a real hike. One where you sweat and where you are really allowed to publicly moan a bit about the heat of the sun or the warmth of your drinking water after a few hours.

After this walk we all drove to a lookout on one of the green hills for a watch at the sun going down again. We were back at the campsite again where Dave told us all to sit around the fire and enjoy it as he prepared dinner and surprised us with a splendid camp-oven-baked apple pie desert!

Today was also the day on which I broke the news to Dave, once again.

"I am leaving the tour tomorrow," I told him. His first reply was a moody "Whatever," and he looked away. Then I explained him why and I had thought about what I was going to say for a quite a while. "I don't feel comfortable on this tour and I have two reasons for that. The first is this 20-years age difference between the over-talkative British passengers (who keep me running ahead or who make me tired of the constant waiting for them) and me. Secondly I am not a tourist, but more a traveller and there is a big difference between that. After 14 months of travelling through 16 countries I experience things differently than a tourist who reads the Lonely Planet Australia Guide before landing in Darwin and joins this tour."

When I had explained all that to Dave, he could fully understand me. Indeed, I loved the things I have seen these four days and I will sure miss the following part of the trip, but if you feel uncomfortable in the group of passengers and you have the change to easily choose a path of freedom, I rather change things for myself.

Dave secretly admitted he was having a hard time himself with this party. I mean, he, too, has to keep on smiling and answering silly questions and socialize all the times. He even told me that it had happened before, that the young one got off the tour when the majority of the passengers are much older. And that was a relief.

I was no case for psychiatrists YET! Maybe if I'd stay on this tour long enough, I would...

Someway I thought the apple pie desert that he had prepared, was a bit of a last meal and goodbye from him for me. Something was in the air, but I felt relieved. Very relieved and enlightened. Tomorrow I am free again!

Good night Bungle Bungles!