What do you do when you’ve just spent six days in the Simpson Desert on your own, having driven over every one of those 600 million sand dunes by yourself?
Australia's best-kept beauty secret
If you’re in Birdsville you go straight to the pub, of course. For a celebratory glass of bubbly. A shower can wait for another hour or so!
Read more from Kathleen Swinbourne: Five golden rules when travelling in Australia
Well, that celebratory glass turned into two before I dragged myself away to check in to the caravan park, have a shower, wash my clothes and make myself some dinner. Then it was back to the pub for another drink or two.
I spent a few days in Birdsville last year after I drove up the Birdsville Track. Believe me, the drink you have to celebrate doing the Birdsville Track is nothing like the one you have to celebrate the Simpson Desert. It was a good night. I even won a game of pool and I can’t play pool.
And, as is usual when I meet people and say I’m travelling on my own, we got into the game of “but what if …”
“But what if something goes wrong?”
“But what if the car breaks down?”
“But what if you do a tyre?” somebody asked.
“I’d change it.” I replied
“Have you ever done a tyre on your travels?” they asked again. Actually, no, I haven’t. I have changed many tyres in my time, mostly because when I was a single mother on the pension I had a very cheap car that shredded tyres, but I’ve never done a tyre when travelling in the outback.
But driving to Windorah next morning, slightly the worse for wear, I was sure that was about to change.
Stones, rocks, gravel and lots of dust were floating through everything. There was so much dust, that even with no other cars around I couldn’t drive with the roof open. Seems I’d washed off the Simpson Desert dust only to replace it with more dust. And not even nice, red dust this time.
I have never been so glad to see tar as I was when I finished that road.
The, 600km later, from the wide open plains to jump-up country, over a greater distance in one day than I’d travelled over the entire previous week, I pulled up and camped beside a river. Something I hadn't seen for a while!
Next morning I popped my head up out of the swag and startled four kangaroos who were grazing nearby. I love being outback!
Next stop, Eulo, to camp by another river and where I’d booked in for Australia’s best outback experience – an artesian mud bath.
I’d spoken with Jo before I left Birdsville and booked in for a sunset bath. When I arrived in Eulo it was only lunch time and a gloriously sunny day.
So, after setting up by the river I wandered off to the mud baths to see if I could get in early. What could be better than sitting in the bath, in the outdoor bathroom in the sun, fire blazing in the corner, enjoying the luxury of a hot mud bath?
As it turns out, there’s nothing better.
I’ve been to Eulo for a the first time with Doc back in 2011 on our way home from the Cape. Last time I had a . Now I try to finish off every trip with a mud bath, it’s that good. It is so good that two teenage boys who had been forced into it by their parents pronounced it “yeah, all right”. High praise indeed!
I spent two hours sitting in the warm, milky mud water, with a glass or two of wine and a plate of nibbles. Just soaking up the mud and the sunshine, while watching the birds land in the gum tree by the billabong outside the perspex wall.
From the time I’d finished soaking and exfoliated with the extra mud, then moisturised with the date moisturiser, my skin and hair felt better than they had for weeks.
Then a couple of drinks in the pub, and back to my camp to light the campfire before watching the sun set behind the river.
Eulo is Australia’s best kept secret