A Travellerspoint blog

Australia - part 10

Mini tour of Red centre - the rocks!

sunny 27 °C
View Around the world in a few months! on Labgirluk's travel map.

After an indecently early get up and taxi ride to the airport we left cairns for Alice Springs.. Randomly the quantas flight took us via Ayer's rock airport with a half hour wait in the airport, only to get back on same plane in same seats... It did, however, give us a lovely first view of Uluru..
Arriving on a Bank Holiday is not the best way to see a small town in the middle of nowhere – not a lot is open! Fortunately a few shops were open so we could buy our very necessary fly nets. They were the best buy ever! I also bought a new pack-away bag in an aboriginal design. Can’t miss me now!
Thankfully the hostel took pity on us residents and set up an offer of buy one drink at full price and get a meal for free! So for 6 dollars I got a bottle of cider and chilli con carne with cheese and tortilla chips... They also lay on brekkie for the early leavers between 4.30 and 8 so we knew we’d have breakfast the following morning too.
Up and having breakfast at 4.30am to be ready for a 4.50am pick up. Main case was being left in storage at the hostel and just what was required packed into the rucksack and brought along.
The trip from Alice springs to Ayer’s rock takes 4 ½ hours on a good run without breaks and only 3 right turns in all that distance! At the right turn from Stuart Highway to Lasseter highway we stopped at the Erldunda roadhouse, and then Curtin springs, for a break and refuel of the bus. On the way I got a lovely pic or 2 of the sunrise, while the rest of the bus slept.. We also passed Mount Conner, which many people think is Uluru, turn around and go back to Alice. We were still 200km from Uluru!
Arriving at Ayer’s rock airport mid morning to drop a couple of passengers off, and then 1 at a nice looking hotel at the resort, we headed to our camp ground. Meat and salad sarnies for lunch were made and eaten and then we had back to the resort to pick up the rest of our tour group. From there we headed to the national park and our first stop, Uluru. We went to the cultural centre first and read up about the history of the aboriginals in the area and the return of the land to them. I managed to buy a couple of small pieces of art for a decent price, and with info on the artists themselves. I was thankful I had left my main credit cards in the bus as I fell in love with a gorgeous piece of art at a steal for 3000 ausd (about £1500)! It was so mesmerising and had been named ‘galaxy’. I would have had to have it shipped directly home too. Still wish I’d bought it though.
From there we headed to the base of Uluru where the guide loudly talked to us about the reasons why we shouldn’t climb Uluru and that climbing will be banned from October on the 34th anniversary of the land being handed back to the aboriginals. There were still plenty climbing it though. I don’t think many really think about how they are disrespecting a sacred site nor how dangerous a climb it is. Instead we walked around the base and our guide gave us talks on certain areas and made sure we respected the sensitive sections and didn’t take photos in those marked up.
From there we headed to our camp for the night at Ayer’s rock camping ground. This was my first ever experience of sleeping swag. These ones were the older style so no frame to hold the canvas off the face/head. They all had a mattress and pillow in so we just added a sleeping bag and that was our bed for the night – under the stars. Mark , our guide also talked about the ‘monster flap’. A section of canvas that you could flip over the head to completely enclose you against the chill and bugs. Since learnt that only Mark used that phrase and other guides use the flap as a place to stand to take shoes off before getting into bed.....! I had rented a sleeping bag as I didn’t have room to carry one myself but I was a bit annoyed that many others who hadn’t pre-booked were still given a sleeping bag and didn’t get charged for the privilege....
We then trooped up to the camp ground sunset /sunrise look out point, not the best point as sunsets between Uluru and Kata-Tjuta and not behind it as we had thought it would, but it was private so much quieter then the main ones.
After dinner we sat around the table and played a game – no campfire allowed in this location.... We all crashed pretty early as most of us had been up since 4am and we were having another early morning call to get up, pack up, have brekkie before heading to the lookout for sunrise.
From here we travelled to Kata-Tjuta, another set of rocks nearby. Also red rock but a totally different layout. Kata-Tjuta translates to many heads and there are many separate rocks rising out of the ground. Here we went for a walk (!) to a couple of the lookouts. This involved lots of ups and downs and scrabbling over rocks and avoiding the loose ones as well as climbing a rock face – looked daunting but was easier going up than down... But the views were worth it. We then turned around and made our way back (about a 3 hr hike in total) and headed back to the camp ground for lunch before getting back in the bus for the 3 hour drive to the King’s creek station, our camp ground for the next night... This camp ground had a campfire so marshmallows had been bought in anticipation, as well as stopping on the side of the road on the way to collect firewood. This stuff was very definitely dry, unlike our last firewood forage in the rainforest!
Camp was set up again but this time we grabbed our swabs and set up in a ring around the camp fire, using the rolled up saga as comfy seats. Dinner was a bbq including kangaroo steak as well as a pork sausage with salad. The garlic bread was delayed so put on the fire and eaten afterwards, in some cases in between mouthfuls of campfire toasted marshmallows! A bizarre combination I can assure you.... 😆
Eventually we headed to bed as another 5am start was needed to get to King’s canyon and do the 3 hour walk before lunch! We arrived and were on our way up to the rum by 8am! We went from north to south so the first stage, up heart-attack hill, was completed while relatively cool. It was one steep hill of steps, and I still hate them! Once at the top though.... Breeze, no flies and breath-taking views... We walked along the ridge, and then down a dip to visit the garden of Eden. This is a pool up on the canyon ridge. Due to the stone make up of the canyon there is a layer of non porous shale that stops the water from draining away. Just amazing. From there back up on to the ridge and along some more. We saw some flat worm fossils as well as sea ripple effects worn into the stone – proof that the canyon and surrounding area used to be under the ocean many millions of years ago... Mind boggling!
Eventually we reached the end and headed back down to the bus. This one was a gentler descent as it was some steps with a bit of path instead of just steps. In some ways I’m glad we got the steep one done at the beginning as I don’t think I’d have liked going down them...
From there we had a 5 hour bus ride back to Alice springs, with stops at both Curtin springs (had bbq lunch there) and Erldunda roadhouse (ice cream stop) to break up the journey. This trip seemed to zoom along but that might have been something to do with the raucous card game we were playing in the back of the bus for most of the journey back! We arrived back in Alice about 5.30pm and were dropped off back at our hostel. Thankfully they were doing the meal for free with a drink deal so we did that, had a shower, repacked our small bags ready for the next 3 day tour – Alice Springs to Darwin...

Posted by Labgirluk 02:27 Archived in Australia Tagged sunset uluru sunrise kata_tjuta king's_canyon red_centre northern_territory swag_camping

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