We wanted to stay there even longer but Bruce Lee was calling us back to the bus as we had more sightseeing to do. We were headed closer to the rock to complete the Base Walk that we’d started yesterday – we had about 7 more kilometers to see up close. Everyone kind of split up on their own at their own pace and we took the middle group and really enjoyed the morning air, the rest of sunrise, and the rock. At each viewpoint and every turn we could see and discover something new about the rock and up close it’s even more massive. It was truly amazing and worth two nights camping in a swag!
After finishing the Base Walk it was unfortunately time to say goodbye to some of our friends as a few Rockies were flying out directly from Ayers Rock airport. We said bye to Debby and Mike and one of the German girls. We then started the long drive back to Alice Springs. It’s about a 5 hour drive with no stops but of course you have to break it up. Our first stop was for lunch at a picnic site near a salt lake with a view of some other mountains.
Lunch was again wraps but this time with deli meats and such. Bruce Lee mentioned that he was supposed to have made pasta but his gas burners broke that morning. Good thing that happened now at the end of the trek! Poor Bruce Lee has worked very hard, doing everything himself. He does all of the driving, leading, cooking, etc. as the tour doesn’t have a separate driver or anything. At least we can sleep on the bus but he can’t. On the drive after lunch I notice that he was looking a little tired and ragged and so we all changed seats and engaged him in conversation to make the time go by faster.
Our last stop before Alice was a camel farm to see some animals and partake in an optional camel ride. The original British explorers used camels to explore the outback as horses couldn’t last more than 4 days without water and there’s no water anywhere in the Northern Territories of Australia. So they imported camels 150 years or so ago and they’ve been an integral part of life here ever since. Dave and I thought, why not, so we hopped on for a ride. We weren’t expecting it but the camel broke into a run on the lap back which was painful for the both of us.
Otherwise, the ride was quite smooth and I would compare it to a horse (definitely easier than an elephant!). We also saw some kangaroos up close (up until now we’d only seen them hop across the road in front of the bus which is very cool) and even a dingo but I think it was very domesticated as it accepted a belly rub from one of our tour mates. We enjoyed the rest of the ride home chatting up the young blokes who took a liking to Dave (one of them told me that my husband was a ‘gem’, didn’t I know this already?) and at exactly 5pm pulled up to our hotel/lodge. I was never so happy to check in, see our luggage and our lovely hotel room and shower.
We had just a few hours because the tour was meeting up at the Rock Bar for dinner and drinks later in the evening. We did have time for laundry which was so great to feel completely cleaned up (although the red sand from the outback got into Dave’s shoes and his socks and turned all our white socks pink). At 7:30pm we called a cab and met up with about half of the group for dinner.
We sat next to the German girls who liked Dave a lot also (I think he’s really embracing the backpacker lifestyle) and our British blokes. I had some delicious beer called the Beez Neez which smells like honey. I decided to be adventurous and try camel pie that was on the menu. I know that I just rode one earlier in the day and here I am eating it but it’s all about survival of the fittest I say.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that good as the meat was a bit tough and the pie wasn’t cooked all the way through. But you can’t win them all. Eventually, sitting at the table got to be awkward and boring so we suggested moving the party next door which happened to be Bo Jangles Saloon where we knew they sold Darwin Stubbies. Dave’s new friends were very interested in this challenge as Dave shared his story so we all trekked over. Unfortunately, they only had one left so we all went in together and it filled about 7 glasses of beer. We requested some good old-school music from the DJ and enjoyed a relaxing evening. Around 11pm the bar closed so we shared a taxi with Bruce Lee who lived in the direction of our hotel. No one else from the tour stayed in our hotel so off we went, exhausted but happy (and clean).
Bruce Lee woke us up just past 5am on our third day so that we could pack up and head to the same lookout point to watch sunrise over Ayers Rock. While we're waiting for sunrise Bruce Lee made us breakfast so that was nice. We had great fun watching sunrise and trying to keep warm all together. We also got some good photos of us 'jumping’ over the rock. We’ve seen sunrise over many spectacular places on this trip and this didn’t disappoint.