I'll never be able to wash all the pink sand out.
14.10.2014 36 °C
So the third and final little excursion was to Uluru and Alice Springs. Or Ayers Rock to those who don't speak the native language. (I don't either, but I like Uluru better).
The plane in took us right near Uluru so we got a perfect welcome to the big massive rock, apparently Australia's most photographed landmark. (I thought it would be the Opera House. This fact surprised me).
We checked into the nicest hostel we've stayed in for the entire trip and then went to take what would be the first of millions of photographs.
The resort around Uluru is like a little toy town. Made for tourists and really clean, small and cute. There is a little town centre with shops and cafes (my favourite? Ayer's Wok. A Chinese takeaway. Mega lolz. Never ate there, just like the name). There is a little bus that takes you round for free, although it only takes about 15minutes to get anywhere you like.
After the best ever pillow and comfiest bed in the world, we woke up for the trip.
Picked up by a mad bird/Sheila called Kellie who was our Rock Mama for the weekend and jumped on the fun bus.
When we got to Uluru it was absolutely STUNNING. We'd seen quite a bit of it from the distance of the resort, but finally seeing it up close was absolutely awesome. And not in that American way people say awesome all the time. But the genuine, original meaning of the word. Up close you realise how many different features and parts there are to it, with not one rock face looking the same as the one round the corner.
Kellie told us it is 348metres high and is one huge solid rock. But the thing that got me even more, was that this is literally only the tip of the iceberg - the rock has another 6KM underground. 6K!!!!! Incredible. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but some boffins sent some sonic rays down or something and the bounce-back showed it was 6K deep.
That is a big bloody rock!
Actually, using the word bloody is funny. Although the sand and the rock itself APPEARS red, that is only because it has been dyed by the sand around it. Chip away a bit and it is actually white in most places, but looks black where rain (yes, it does rain there occasionally) and other stuff as run down it.
We walked around the whole thing in two stages on the first and second days. (I think I remember it was 9K in total) and found so many different aspects to it, including 5,000-year-old paintings, waterfalls, watering holes, caves, homes for animals, caves used for ceremonies and even a "kitchen cave".
The Aborigines believe Uluru is sacred and therefore when they leased it back to the government in the 1980s, they asked that people don't climb it. However, when the white man previously took over and declared it was theirs, handrails had been built up one side of it. Although there are warning signs about the dangers of climbing it, together with the requests from Aborigines asking people not to do so, we saw loads of tourists still climbing it. But it looked so beautiful from the plane and below, I don't see what the point would be. For starters, about 36 (?) people have died climbing it. Although this is only the figure for people who died while still touching the rock (heart attacks, falls etc). Many more people are thought to have died afterwards from heat stroke and exhaustion, back at their hotels.
Anyway, enough about death.
After Uluru (and seriously, I cannot emphasis enough just HOW pretty it was, especially during sunrise and sunset) we went slept in swags.
A swag, for those who are not familiar, is basically a very small tent, or a large sleeping bad depending on how you look at it. It fits over your sleeping back and there is a flap you pull over your head.
It sounds horrendous, but actually I would have slept really well if it hadn't been for the hacking horrible cough I had throughout the trip. And there is nothing like laying on your back, looking at all the stars, without anything or any sounds between you and the heavens.
After swag adventures we climbed Kata Tjuta nearby. Not quite as impressive, but definitely on a par. This was a LOT of steep climbing, in the middle of the day when it had reached about 36degrees. So basically was VERY sweaty. But after all the alcohol of Whitsundays and Fraser Island, I think a little exercise did us the world of good.
Our three hour walk included a very steep ascent of steps (towards the END of the walk, when you're already knackered and thinking you wanna just die a little bit). I sounded like an asthmatic when I got to the top. But WOW. We were told not to turn around until we reached the summit and that idea was definitely a good one. It was absolutely stunning.
After another night in the swag (no spiders, thanks to a ring of salt around the bed- top camping tip!) we moved onto King's Canyon and yet more steep steps. However, this time they were at the beginning of the walk and we started at 6.30am. So it was a lot cooler. (As another aside - it was surprising how easily I got up at 4.45am each morning. My teenage self wouldn't have recognised me).
King's Canyon was another mount of stunning scenery, although unfortunately I didn't get to share it with Fay this time as her feet were killing her from the previous day's adventure. However, it was nice to get to know some of the other members of the group a little bit better and I chatted to Evan the American, Suze the American living in Sydney and Kellie our tour guide (the Tazzy).
The final part of our tour was a camel ride in the desert. Well, round a little track next to a store which was in the middle of the desert. Our camel had one hump, as I'm told all Australian camels do. (Did you know Australia has more camels than Egypt? And that the Saudi Arabians buy their camels from Oz? True.) It was very bumpy but so much fun.
At the end of our trip we finally arrived in Alice Springs (after suffering a flat tyre literally yards from the town entrance). We were knackered and my cough was horrendous at this point. So I'm sad to say that the adventure ended here, and we didn't paint the town red as originally planned.
The three trips were all awesome for very different reasons - Whitsundays for scenery, Fraser Island for banter and Uluru for culture. I wouldn't have wanted to miss any of them out and they were all my favourite for different reasons.
After this, it was on to Perth, which I will bore you about in my next post.
Thanks for reading. xxx
PS- We went with The Rock Tours. And you can find them on FACEBOOK etc.