The Bush

In Australia, everything outside a city is referred to by the general name "The Bush". In fact, even some places within major cities get that name, too. For example, in Sydney, you may go to "Mrs. Macquarie's Bushwalk" and enjoy half an hour in a well-groomed city park overlooking Fort Denison, the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Indeed, if it were not for the abundance of cockatoos, you could paste this park seamlessly into any city park in any major city, except, of course, in Australia, where any appearance of a eucalypt (or, as they are romantically referred to here: "Gum Trees") is cause enough to refer to an area as "The Bush".

Needless to say, the "real" bush, if there is such a thing, can be found closer to the center of the continent, in the famous Australian outback. Just to give you a sense of scale here, Oz is roughly 7.5 million square kilometers in size, which is larger than Europe by a third, if you don't count Russia. Of this size, half is desert, and an extra third is something called "semi-arid desert". If you don't know what semi-arid desert is, the pictures will soon show you. Not once in the trip did we go into arid territory, nor do I think that anybody on a vacation ever does. On the other hand, going to Australia and not visiting Uluru is somewhat like going to Manhattan island and not seeing Miss Liberty.

I remember seeing a cartoon in The National Museum of Australia that explains perfectly what semi-arid desert is. It shows two sheep-herders standing in the middle of a large plateau of sandy desert. Every three or four meters, there is a small rock to break the monotony. Every three or four rocks there is a sheep. Every three or four sheep, there is a small green sprout of leaves coming out of the ground and promptly being munched by a sheep. Meanwhile, the sheep-herders are having the following conversation:

"So, this is what you call 'The Bush'. Huh?"
"I love the Australian sense of humor."

We arrived into "the bush" on the 30th of July and stayed there for a week. A plane from Sydney took us on a three-and-a-half hour journey to Ayer's Rock airport, placing us squarely into the very center of Australia, which is often colorfully referred to as "The Red Centre". (Note the British spelling.)

Not wanting to venture into the (semi) arid wasteland all by ourselves, this part of the trip was done on a group tour. Meet the group and the tour guides, Lisa and Gary (a.k.a. "Gary the Driver"):

As you may have noticed, the average age is roughly seventy, so we had some difficulties keeping up with their pace.

Here are some of the things we saw out there in the desert:


And if you want to see more pictures, you can always find them in the Bush Gallery.