18th December 2008
Oh how rude... my alarm goes off at 4am and I am not impressed! Its still dark outside!
I'm up and ready for my 4.45am pick up time by Adventure Tours - our chauffeur for the next days is Jess and even at this early hour, can tell I'm going to have a giggle with her!
We pick up another 11 people (some Danes, some Germans, a Korean, an Aussie and some more Brits) and we hit the road. I hadn't quite realised how far Uluru is from Alice Springs - its not a short hop thats for certain!
Our first pit stop of the morning (the only one we actually pass in the next 5 hours or so!) is at Erldundra - a petrol station with Emus and these giant echidna and lizard structures... I have a feeling the people who live around here don't get out very much...! This is the place that I bought a necessity though - a pink face fly net - we're so going to be seeing these on the catwalk next Summer! No seriously, the flies in the outback have serious attitude and flock around your face because of the lack of moisture elsewhere. I didn't want any of them making a nest for themselves in my eyes!!
Ironically, despite the intense heat (its going to be up to 40 degress over the next 2 days during my trip), Jess tells us that the Red Centre is the greenest it has been for at least the past 8 years with a fair amount of rainfall recorded. Jess had even seen it rain on Uluru in the past few weeks! Crazy!
We continue on our quest to the first of our destinations - Kings Canyon - stopping at another roadhouse for the most welcomed cup of iced coffee ever and then later for a picnic Jess style.
Its baking hot and we've been on the road for 8 hours. Perhaps I should have flown directly to Uluru instead!
We finally arrive in Kings Canyon and the idea is to do a full 5km hike up into the canyon but rather than wanting to kill us all from heat exhaustion and dehydration, we head out on the fairly docile 1.5km creek walk which, given there is a waterhole during our walk, is very refreshing (at least until we realise that there are leeches in the water!).
Back on the bus and time to head another 3 hours or so to Uluru (Ayers Rock to most of us!). We bypass Mount Conner - a bigger monolith than Uluru but a privately owned one so can't get near it really. It is here that I have one of my first (and I wish the last but sadly not to be) encounters with sand flies... in my new Jungle Jane mode, i'm quick to go and explore the salt lakes that exist beyond a sand dune by Mount Conner and I'm soon regretting it from the number of sand fly bites I manage to get within 5 minutes climbing up the dune. Evil things!
We arrive in Yulara - the township next to Uluru - where we're 'camping' for the night. I have the option of my own little hut or I can 'swag' - sleep out under the stars in a sort of sleeping bag. Given the number of bugs I can see, I am thinking that swagging is just one step too far for a City girl like me and I wimp out... We're in time to see the sunset at Uluru and I hadn't quite realised the proximity of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) which is another rock formation nearby. The formation looks like Homer Simpson lying down! I take far too many pictures of Uluru...
We have a bbq for tea and then we all head off to bed early - another early start in the morning (4.30am) if we want to catch Uluru at sunrise...
I'm comforted (?!) by the number of companions I have in my hut of the insect variety... I'm a City girl, get me out of here!!!!!!