Callie in front of the Kata Tjuta, a rock formation near Uluru.

After spending two months in New Zealand, I (unfortunately!) only had time for a quick two weeks in Australia. This meant doing a highlights tour: Sydney and Uluru.

Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is in the middle of the Australian outback, and it really is a giant rock in the middle of a flat landscape. It’s almost hard to comprehend until you are standing in front of it.

The Uluru National Park is fairly regulated, and the only place to stay nearby is the Ayers Rock Resort—a huge place that has its own “town center” and offers a range of hotels from the swanky to the cheap. To save money, my husband and I decided to go even cheaper and camped at the Ayers Rock Resort’s campground.

Uluru set against the Australian outback.
Uluru set against the Australian outback. Image courtesy of Callie Hammond.

The only problem? Well, it’s the outback, so you can use your imagination. There were warnings about dingos, bugs, spiders, flies, you name it.

On our third and last morning at the campground, I turned in the tent to roll up my sleeping bag when—there it was—the largest spider I’ve ever seen. And it was on my leg.

Now I’ll just take a moment right now to say that as a card-carrying introvert, I never scream. You know what I mean: The extroverted girls in high school would scream for attention (over the tiniest of spiders, I might add) or when boys came near them in middle school. I could never engage in that behavior. It wasn’t worth my energy. For this reason, I have no idea what my scream even sounds like. I’d been waiting, you see, for the right opportunity. Now here I was with a giant spider on my leg, and the sound coming from me was nothing like the scream of a horrified heroine. No, instead it sounded something more like a stuck pig trying to escape the inevitable: “EEEEEEEEEE! (hyperventilate) EEEEEEEEE! (hyperventilate) EEEEEEE!”

I’m not sure if I flicked the spider in my terror or if he couldn’t take the screeching and jumped off. Whichever, the spider quickly burrowed back into the depths of my sleeping bag, giving me the opportunity I needed to escape the tent.

In the campground bathroom I barely locked the door before taking off all my clothes and jumping around in terror—to ensure that I was spider-free. I was, but at that moment it hardly mattered because I would feel like I had spiders on me for days afterwards.

As a girl who has embraced being outdoorsy only as an adult, (and is not always successful at it!), the spider incident gave me a little boost of confidence. Yes, I survived a spider attack in the Australian outback.

But that’s what I love most about the outdoors: Even when you fail or face stressful situations, you always have the chance to look back and admire your own gumption.

Don’t worry, I won’t post the picture of the spider!