The Red Centre

Trip Start Jan 11, 2012
Trip End Jun 17, 2012

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Where I stayed
swags and underground!

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Joined Groovy Grape for a 6-day Rock Patrol tour - along with 20 other passengers! Alot of distance covered and a lot of rock seen!

Day 1
Large freighter trains carrying god knows how many containers - I tried counting them but lost count numerous times!

Flinders Range extending ~300km N-S - we had a sneaky view and then headed for Alligator gorge - no alligators, just a fly-invested dead kangaroo  :(

Camped near Wilmington and tried out minced kangaroo on the BBQ. The camping comprised of a swag (army zip-up thing with mattress inside) plus a sleeping bag - rarely needed as so boiling! Awesome view of stars over head.

Wildlife: wallabies, kookaburra, bearded dragon and a huntsman spider (looked like a Halloween rubber thing for 30min until it moved towards our breakfast!)

Day 2
Salt Lake Hart - tiny compared to Lake Eyre - which does show up on maps! Crystallised salt forming hexagonal shapes glistening in the sun. This area is all part of the Great Artesian Basin - an E-W wedge in Oz.

Headed to Coober Pedy - a bizarre alienated world in the middle of nowhere - people live underground due to heat/cold on the surface - and this is all for opals! They were pretty though :)

Checked out a kangaroo sanctuary with orphaned or physically damaged animals - including 2 small roos = all bony legs in blankets. Fact of the day: kangaroos are lactose intolerant. The kangaroos felt like soft carpet, but sadly us humans were bitten like crazy here by the mozzies.

Our group stayed in a bunk house cut into the rock - more of a cave than actually underground - nice enough - sadly we had to get up at 4.30am and move on, so not exactly a full night's sleep!

Wildlife: wedge-tailed eagles plucking at road-kill (the young have yellow 'shoulder-blades'), corellas (white parrots), 100's of emus, and cows.

Day 3
A long drive to King's Canyon - us lot slept in the back of the bus - still wearing our PJs - our bonus of getting up early was a lovely peachy sunrise over the fields through the trees and scrub.

King's Canyon - sandstone and shale with a fault creating the canyon. Fabulous views  - the rock being an incredible orange colour. Garden of Eden with its giant ferns and palms - canyon walls reflecting in the pool where we splashed around - a perfect cool down.

Wildlife: thorny devil (yellow and black scary creature that eats just ants!), spinifex pigeons.
Vegetation: tomatoes with purple and yellow flowers.

Day 4
Downside of 'swagging it' - damn snorers!

Wildlife: wild horses which were introduced - now they're caught and sold abroad, itchy grubs aka precessionary caterpillars outside of Oz and pink cockatoos.
Vegetation: wild melon aka camel weed - like little green tennis balls on string.

Uluru (348m) - the monolith's name comes from a sacred water source at the top of 'the rock'. I was surprised at how green the area was with spinifex grass and desert oaks.

Wildlife: 3 little mice at the camp kitchen - only one survived the night..

Day 5
Sunrise with pink fluffy clouds - just our group were there to enjoy its splendor - with stunning views in all directions including Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Returned to camp, to make batches of pancakes - slathered with anything sugary including Nutella, maple syrup & even marmalade! Re-energised, we did the Uluru circuit - the waterhole even had water flowing into it from recent rains. Heard about certain Aboriginal initiations for both men and women and different sacred sites and even saw some rock art.

Sunset with 100's of 'randoms' - sadly cloud coverage but we did enjoy a platter of sausages, cheese and crisps and some good chatter!  :)

Day 6
Sunrise behind Uluru with a lit-up Kata Tjuta. Did our final walk Valleys of the Winds in KT (~500m) - it's very true to its name! It's a mass of eroded conglomerate forming large orange domes. Also saw mistletoe, eucalypts and dry creeks.

On our long drive to Alice Springs we met up with a dingo and some of the group took to our camels for a bit of a walk/canter/run! Hilarious fun and definitely something UK service stations should set-up to ease the pain of motorway travelling!

We arrived at Alice Springs between the East and West MacDonnell Ranges - in the middle of nowhere - yet again!

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