The Outback. It’s a mysterious place that gives you a full “Australian experience” according to many backpackers. But, unless you really and truly feel comfortable driving 4WD and fixing up a car off road it can be difficult to reach as a celiac, especially if you have additional dietary requirements.
Once you determine that you don’t have enough time to drive yourself through the middle of nowhere. Your next option is an overnight tour. I did a few of those for 2-3 days, but to experience the outback, you’ll be packing food for at least a week. That’s less than ideal.
So then your final option is to fly to Ayers Rock, a very small town at the base of Uluru. It’s the most expensive option, although it’s a bit more affordable if you choose to stay in the hostel. (And, the option to have 20 people sharing a room with you isn’t as bad as it sounds.) Or, you can stay at Emu Walk Apartments where you’ll have your own kitchen, washer, and dryer. However, that option is substantially more expensive.
Here you’ll see the desert, but it’ll be a little bit less of the outback experience. View it more as a tasting menu. And, after, you’ll be learning all you can about becoming a mechanic, so you can explore Western Australia and the Northern Territory on your own.
Now, the town is self-contained. However, before I left I received numerous emails warning me about the limited food options at Ayers Rock. So, naturally, I packed quite a bit of food.
But, it turns out that the town’s grocery store is pretty well stocked. They even had gluten free pastas and taco shells, alongside some microwavable soups. And, like any grocery store they had a pretty large fruit and veg section. Needless to say, the prices weren’t exorbitant for such a rural location, and I could have done all my shopping there. (Remember that I backpack with my own set of kitchen basics.)
There was even one occasion where I was at a special event in town and felt comfortable eating there. The chefs are well trained on allergens since it is such a rural location and there is nowhere else to go. I prefer to bring my own food, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable eating everywhere. However, like I said, you may be surprised. (If you do want to dine in Ayers Rock, they recommend telling them your dietary restrictions 2 weeks in advance, so they can ensure they have the proper food in town.)
Now, I didn’t go through all this work, just to eat some basic food in a rural area. I’m hear to tell you that Ayers Rock was quite a pretty place. There are plenty of day excursions to whisk you away. And, for these, I also packed my own food!
You’ll be able to go to Uluru and Kata Tjuta very easily. However, you can also take a day trip to King’s Canyon. I found it nice to get away for a day, to learn a bit more about aboriginal culture, etc.
Around Ayers Rock there is also a camel farm. It turns out that camels are actually overpopulated in the Northern Territory because they really have no predators. (Okay, there are a couple of plants that can kill them.) Needless to say, it’s interesting to learn a history of camels in the area, and they’re all super gentle because there are so many camels around for the farm to choose.
When a camel stands up, you need to be leaning back because they’re hind legs rise first. It’s such an odd sensation! At the end of my camel ride, we landed at sunset by Uluru and were treated to a little wine. (Like I said, Ayers Rock is not your typical outback experience.) I should note that even alcohol is well labelled for allergens in Australia, so just ask to see the bottle if you have any concerns. If it’s refined with wheat, dairy, eggs, etc. it’ll be listed right next to the “Contains sulfites” warning.
If you have any questions about traveling to Ayers Rock as a celiac please let me know in the comments or by contacting me. I had such a hard time finding information on this village before I left!
Happy Travel Tuesday!