From Perth we flew to Alice Springs where we hoped to book onto a 3 day trip taking in Uluru (aka Ayers Rock), The Olgas (aka Kata Tjuta) and Kings Canyon (aka Watarrka). Still very much in the Asian mindset of doing everything last minute, we got a few eye rolls and sighs from our hostel ‘tour agent’ when we asked to book on a 3-day trip leaving the next morning, but she eventually managed to find us a place on one and off we set early the next day.
Five hours later, we arrived in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta. National Park. As the temperature was predicted to be 48 degrees C, we spent a few extra hours in the cultural centre, waiting for the temperature to fall to a mere 40 degrees before setting off on a very short walk to the Olga’s.
Sunset at Uluru, where we drove afterwards, was spectacular for very different reasons- Our guide told us that a cyclone with 140mph winds was predicted to be coming our way (hence our free upgrade from sleeping in swags to tents….although what good a tent would do in 140mph winds I don’t know)! As we approached Uluru, we could see the dark clouds massing to our west and saw the beginnings of some very cool twisters behind lots of lightning. All the tourists who’d braved the winds and the extremely annoying millions of flies that constantly try to fly up your nose, eyes, mouth and ears (Thank God for fly nets and the top tip we’d had to get one- thanks Tom and Jules!!) stood with their backs to Uluru, snapping shots of the storm instead. Fortunately for us, the storm by-passed our campsite and all the tents where still standing in the morning. We heard a campsite several miles away had been utterly destroyed by the storm so we were pretty fortunate 🙂 !
At 3:45am the next day we got up to see Uluru at sunrise and then do the 3 hour walk around its base before the heat was too unbearable. How the Aborigines survived for so many thousands of years in a land this harsh is beyond comprehension! It was very interesting learning more about how they survived and why Uluru is such a sacred space for them.
The rest of the day we spent driving through several different eco-systems en-route to our campsite near Kings Canyon. After dinner, stories and games around the campfire, we got into our swags for the night, trying not to think too much about dingos (wild dogs which sometimes get aggressive) and creepy crawlies that might try and eat us as we slept under the full moon. I think Alex was a bit freaked out when he awoke at 00:00 and turned to see a Dingo a few metres away from us. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!) it didn’t stay around long enough for me to grab the camera!
The next morning we were all psyched up for a 3-hour walk around Kings Canyon. Fortunately, the ‘difficult’ section we had been warned about, would have been what guides in Asia called ‘very easy’ so the time we spent psyching ourselves up for a horrendous climb where completely wasted! This was our favourite walk of the trip though- much more interesting and varied landscape than we’d already seen.
All in all, a fabulous trip!