....EIGHT DAYS A WEEK!
If you've ever been on the road for a long drive or five, you'll understand the importance of having some music to listen to.
Add to this the individual tastes of seventeen other passengers whose ages range from ten to seventy and things can get interesting. Geoff, our fearless, camel-lovin' tour leader passed around his iPod for us to select a song each for an 'on the go' soundtrack and the resultant sounds that accompanied the rainbow desert landscape of Central Australia were a strange mix indeed. Think the Beatles, Kaiser Chiefs, Black Eyed Peas, Midnight Oil, Mozart, Abba, Moby, David Gray and Red Hot Chili Peppers just for the first session.
By the fifth day my notebook was being used more to write down songs to search out myself to download than to record any decent diary details. However, I learned a lot of things on this trip; none of which were mentioned in the brochure:
Being warm is far more important than being stylish. However, I did take off my beanie when a camera was around because it makes me look as though a big blue donger is growing out of my scone. If I was wearing my head torch as well, I might as well have been a walking advert for circumcision.
Apples and meusli bars taste like MasterChef manna from heaven when you're roughing it and have just done a seven kilometre hike through rock and rubble. Almost-frozen champagne also tastes delicious even when it's 4C, windy and dark and you're standing in front of Uluru and the Olgas (Kata Tjutu).
Carrot cake (with the lusciously, cholesterol-ly, cream cheese icing) featured in my dreams. Every single night. Not chocolate - why?
Dutch, Canadian and German backpackers use musk lifesavers as a dare in drinking games. It's apparently a rite of passage to buy a pack and see who can keep it in their mouth the longest before gagging. First one to spit it out has to skol their drink. "I thought they were mini urinal cakes," said Reinier.
Large milkshakes enjoyed at a road stop soon turn into intestinal cottage cheese when enduring a bone-shaking 2 hour drive on an unsealed track.
I actually have bum bones. After days of sitting on rocks, dirt and swags, they made their presence felt.
It is easy to horrify Italian kindergarten teachers. Making innocent conversation as we did the dishes, I said, "So, your husband tells me that you two first met at a nightclub?"
"No! no no no no no!" Her eyes were wider than the plates she was stacking. Her husband and translator, Alain, wandered over to ascertain the cause of her distress. They chatted rapidly in Italian.
He smiled. "She thinks you meant a Strip club."
Some things at Uluru are more shocking than the price of coffee and souvenirs in the gift shop. One bloke stood behind his open car door, pulled down his trousers and sprayed his Kyber Pass and Dangle Twang with deodorant before hitching up his pants and going to work on his armpits. Most passersby were spared this scene but I unfortunately was approaching from the rear.
We had a competition one night around the campfire to see which of us had the best porn name (first pet you had + first street you lived on). Penny won with Pussy View. Lord knows what she thought of our bawdy hoots of laughter because she revealed to us the next day that she's studying to be a Uniting Church minister.
Robbie, our guide from the Oak Valley Aboriginal community says he likes to eat Witchety grubs raw and at the base of the bush they live in, "but my grandies turn up their noses. They take 'em back to nanna to cook."
Hygiene standards become incredibly lax. By Day Five I was wiping a knife smeared with homous onto my dusty jeans, then using it to cut up some chicken; wiping it again on my legs before cutting up some tomatoes and giving it a final swipe across my upper thigh. There. Nice and clean and put straight back into the cutlery box.
And I finally found the perfect place to fart without detection or disapproval by offering to hold the balloon strings as it filled up with hot air.
Best holiday ever.