How I hitchhiked 5000 kilometres across Australia

How I hitchhiked 5000 kilometres across Australia

OK. Not 5000, but 4993. How could I have missed the 5000 km milestone? Well, with the short detours that I wasn’t able to include I definitely exceeded it.

I came to Australia with the idea of wanting to hitchhike to different places as I knew taking buses and trains would cost me dearly. I knew I would m see fewer places than I wanted to if I was to use the public transport.

I started easy, I was going to try and see how it would go. Little did I know at the beginning how incredibly lucky I would be. This is what stuck in my mind. I was one lucky hitchhiker in Australia.

I started my Australian odyssey in Darwin. The next stop was going to be Alice Springs, a town in the red centre of Australia. In the heart of Australian Outback. I took a city bus to Palmerston which was supposedly a good hitchhiking spot. I got my first ride in about 25 minutes. I don`t think my Alice Springs sign was ready at that point. The lady took me to Kathrine, the first hitchhiking checkpoint. Excellent.

The first day of hitchhiking from Darwin
The first driver, whose name I forgot, was from Kathrine

A second car, a camper-van, stopped in half an hour. My hitchhiking sign definitely helped at that point. And so I met Dave who was going all the way to Alice. I could hardly believe my ears. I couldn’t have been luckier. It was a long drive and we had to stop to spend the night somewhere along the way. Dave was kind enough to offer me a place to sleep in the camper-van. In addition, I learnt a lot about Australia from him. And I reached Alice Springs on the second day of hitchhiking. Incredible.

Hitchhiking in Kathrine with the sign ready now
A short stop at the Australian UFO centre
A short stop at the Australian UFO centre
A short stop at the Australian UFO centre
A short stop at the Tropic of Capricorn
Dave was the second driver to give me a ride (Kathrine to Alice Springs)

After a couple of days in Alice I decided to hitchhike to Uluru. I started late but guess what! A camper-van stopped in no more than 5 minutes. Carla, una chica Colombiana, who had spent quite some time in Australia both studying and working gave me a ride to the turn off to Uluru where, unbelievable as it may seem, I was picked up by Sinead in about five minutes. Too good to be true. Originally from Ireland she spent some time living in Canada, the UK, Zimbabwe, Spain, Yemen and some more countries. That’s what I call inspiration for me. Although she was a serious looking lady she gave me a warmhearted hug once she dropped me off at the Yulara campsite.

Hitchhiking from Stuart Highway to Uluru

I spent a whole day hitchhiking to get to Uluru and Kata Tjuta as well as exploring the two gorgeous places and the following day I decided to try my luck and hitchhike to King’s Canyon. I waited for an hour, the longest wait till then. But it paid off. Paddy, a New Zealander ended up going all the way there. It’s off the Uluru highway so I expected two rides maybe. The funny thing is that he wasn’t sure he was going there when he picked me up. But he did go there and we ended up hiking and cooking together.

On the way to Kings Canyon I got to meet Charlie, a 27 year old cuckotoo
On the way to Kings Canyon I got to meet Charlie, a 27 year old cuckotoo

After visiting King’s Canyon my destination was Adelaide. It meant going back to the Uluru highway, then further back to Stuart highway and then over 1000 km south. It was going to be a long one. I was picked up by a couple from Melbourne but the lady was originally from New Zealand and the man from the UK. They met while biking in Europe. Not only did they take me back to Stuart highway they also drove me further south to a campsite where we spent the night. They also invited me to dinner they cooked and a glass of wine. Amazingly enough they also picked me up the following day as I hadn’t got a ride after having an early start. They took me to Coober Pedy another hitchhiking checkpoint on the way to Adelaide.

Hitchhiking from Kings Canyon to Stuart Highway
The book I was reading while hitchhiking in the Outback. By an Australian writer!

I tried hitchhiking further that day but in vain. It was late and after three hours of trying I called it a day. Nobody was going to drive 800 km after 3 pm. So I got stuck for the first time. But I didn’t mind as Coober Pedy was an interesting town to spend a few hours in. Or perhaps the word peculiar is more suitable. I started early the following day. And I was waiting to get a ride for three hours again. And this time…. this time it paid off. A trucker and his friend were going all the way to Adelaide. Long waits sometimes really pay off.

Hitchhiking to Adelaide
The junction near Coober Pedy was way too familiar – two three hour waits
Coober Pedy was kind of a strange town
Coober Pedy is a town with a lot of underground structures so my hostel was underground

Reaching Adelaide by means of hitchhiking was a huge success. I was really happy and felt accomplished. Even if I didn’t get any further what mattered was I made it across the Outback. From Darwin to Adelaide. From north to south.

From Adelaide I went on to Mount Gambier and further to Warrnambool. What is worth mentioning is that while I was hitchhiking to Mt Gambier I got stranded on a freeway where pedestrians are not allowed and being a police magnet I got picked up by the police. Fortunately, I got away with a warning only instead of paying a 180 dollar fine. The policeman was kind enough to give me a ride to a place where it would be easier to hitchhike. A woman who had seen me being picked up noticed me and started talking to me and she and her husband offered me a ride to Keith.

A short stop to see emus on the way to Warrnambool
A short stop to see emus on the way to Warrnambool

While hitchhiking to Twelve Apostles for the day after getting two short rides I was picked up by two Indian friends who were going to Twelve apostles but were also going to stop to see other places along the way. I certainly didn’t mind. Thanks to them I managed to see five other stunning spots along the great ocean road not just the Apostles.

The two Indian guys thanks to whom I saw a lot of spots along the Great Ocean Road

My very last ride was from Warrnambool to Melbourne. I was picked up by Umair, a Pakistani guy studying in Australia whose job was delivering bread. I didn’t expect I would get a ride in 10 minutes and all the way. But thanks to him I did. Amazing.

Once I reached Melbourne I could hitchhike no more. I was tired and needed a break. But I was all happy about my 5000 km long hitchhiking adventure.

All my hitchhiking signs

A lot of Australians were surprised I was hitchhiking. They said it is not common these days as it used to be. I only saw one other hitchhiker. And guess where! In Coober Pedy. He must have been stuck like me. I had quite a few conversations about hitchhiking with my drivers and not once, not even twice, but more times they brought up the murders that were committed in the 90s. I knew about the backpacker murders because I had read about them. But there was at least one other case. Was I scared? Absolutely not. If I was scared I would never leave home. Nobody mentions all the positive situations and these actually prevail. And also I believe luck favours the brave.

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