This is a tough post to put together as I obtained so many wonderful photos thanks to moody skies and such a beautiful spot. At he bottom of this post I will put a link to all the photos in my google album for those who would like to see more.
After the Daintree I made it back to Cairns where I got all my laundry done, resupplied and had a lovely supper. First thing the next morning, 5am’ish, I was off to the airport for the next leg of the trip. Cairns airport is pretty small and efficient so no issues like I had encountered in Sydney. In fact I was shocked by how lax everything is. At no point, arriving at the airport, security or boarding was I ever asked to show ID. Canada you show at least 3 times, this trip, none. As long as you have a ticket, get onboard, we don’t care who you are.
This was my first flight on Qantas, no complaints at all. Lovely 3 hour flight over to Ayers Rock Airport. Coming in I managed my first glimpse of Uluru and Kata Tjuta and red sand. What a different world from what I had seen in Canberra, Sydney and Cairns. Which was kinda my plan when I was plotting this trip, I wanted to experience extremes.
My tour was with WayOutback Australia Safari’s and I was scheduled for the 5 day Red Centre Kangaroo dreaming tour (they really should look at renaming this haha). I had called a few days in advance to confirm they had advised that since I as arriving 4 hours before my pickup time that I should ditch the airport and go hang out at the Outback Pioneer Hotel while I wait. Good call as the airport was tiny! Grabbed one of the many hotel busses where the driver gave a nice overview of Ayers Rock Resort (yes, that is the name of the town) and described how the free bus service worked and gave a tour of the town. I can see why, the entire town is tourists.
This was one of my concerns going to Uluru was going to be the amount of tourists. And I was not wrong. I found them distracting and annoying for the most part, but that is just my personality of not liking crowds. I was able to get my head away from fixating on all the people and still enjoy everything I was seeing and yet still have a chuckle at some of things I was seeing (more on that later).
The hotel was nice enough to store my big suitcase and stuff so I could get a bite to eat and just relax while I waited for the tour. Right on time, the 4×4 bus showed up looking for me and we were off to get situated at our first camp spot (just a km or two from the town) and meet the rest of the people on the tour.
Our first night was setup in tents – basically a tent city for all the different tour groups but each group has their own area. Fortunately our tents were very sturdy and well setup as the forecast was for a pile of rain. Only I can go to the rainforest and have great sunshine and then go to the desert and have rain. That first night we had 90mm’s of rain. Almost half of the annual rainfall of that region of Australia. Anyhow, we were given our supplies (sheet, sleeping bag, towel, tent) and we got all situated. Our tour guide was Suzie, a fun filled lady who was an amazing guide for the next 5 days. The other 15 people were from Australia (2 people), Germany, Belgium, England and Switzerland. Thus we ended up with most people speaking english and dutch. But I will say everyone did speak english and got along very well despite the occasional breaking off into language groups. We had nobody who was really negative and everyone made the best of every situation and pitched in around camp. It was so great to have a group this size and no one being left aside as no one liked them. This was my first experience with a tour group and when I was planning this trip I agonized about doing something like this but I came out having had a great time and made several new and close friends.
After sorting out tents we were back in the truck and off for our first views of Uluru. On our way, the rain began – but it made for some lovely moody skies for photography.
On our arrival we did a self paced walk through Cultural Centre (they ask that no photos be taken) to learn about the political and cultural history of the area and why it was so important to the Aboriginals to regain access and control of the region. They have a nice craft shop there where things are being made on site. We were then off to Uluru itself where an aboriginal lady (Verna – i believe was her name) gave us a tour in her native language while a young man who lives in their community translated for us. They had a wonderful rapport with each other that was funny and endearing. She talked to us about several of the caves in the regions, which were for woman and which were for men and what they were used for – as much as she could say and many of them are still used for various rituals and you can only know if you are a member. She had also brought along many of the tools they used and these were shown to use with their purposes. She then brought us to a cave with drawings and walked through many of the drawings and their meanings. It was a very interesting chat.
Afterwards we started off on a slow walk about some of the base of Uluru. This walk was the beginning of a new friendship with Carol and Carla. They were on their honeymoon and from the Sydney area. Their sense of humour and mine was an instant hit between the 3 of us. For the next 5 days we would have a great time together with lots of teasing and laughter. What a great couple and wonderful people. New friends for life. All my hesitation of being on a tour with “people” went out the window after meeting these two. Made the entire trip worth it just on their own.
Meanwhile, the walk around the base was incredible. The sun came out yet many of the clouds stayed in they sky. That with the red soil and a huge rock, make it next to impossible to take a bad pictures. Enjoy.
As the day got later we headed off to the location where everyone goes to watch the sunset and to see Uluru change colour. It was pretty obvious that the weather was not going to allow this but it was a good excuse to drink champagne and keep socializing.
It was at this point that you started hearing the whining from many of the tourists about how they were being ripped off. “Came all the way out here and there is no sunset.” HAHAHAHA, I just sat and laughed. Who are they blaming? Weather happens. But I did note that many of these folks complaining were not the ones who are on tours but the ones who were staying in the luxury hotels in Ayers Rock who were being bussed to each site as many of them could barely move under their own power. But to hear whining while sitting looking at the is amazing view because the sun wouldn’t set just had me shaking my head hahaha.
I was supposed to be off to an art exhibit after sunset called the Field of Lights. But the thunder, lightening and pouring rain started around this time and it was cancelled. Kudos to WayOutback as they refunded the extra money I paid for this with no complaint.
Back to the camp site where supper was waiting for us, some kind of Kangaroo meat sauce poured over pasta – it was really good! And once cleanup was done most people headed off to bed as it was raining pretty hard. I was exhausted after having been awake since 4am Cairns time and there was a 1.5 hour time change coming from Cairns making my day even longer. Was sleeping like a baby until my smoke detector in my tent started going off at around 3am. This became a theme in other tents over the next few nights but it seems to have been from the cold and the dampness. Here I am stumbling around in a tent at 3am, in the dark, without my glasses trying to figure out how to shut off a smoke detector that is bolted to a pole and no way to access the battery. The damn thing went off every 30 minutes for the rest of the night. I should have just ripped it off and put my boot through the damn thing. The rain fell all night and that led into the next day – to be continued 🙂
For all my pictures of Uluru visit – Scott’s Uluru Gallery