Uluru - Ayers Rock - Great Big Red Rock
Trip Start Aug 09, 2007
47Trip End Jul 29, 2008
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Our flight was from Melbourne to Alice Springs to Ayers Rock Resort. We had a lay over in Alice Springs that lasted about 2 hrs, which was really long and boring. We had also had forgotten to buy any food for the plane trip, so we were very hungry too. At this point in the trip we were being very cheap, which was sparked by the outrageous coffee prices that were found in Australia
While we were sitting, watching and trying to be as cheap as possible at the airport I felt for the very first time as a dirty backpacker. As we sat staring at each other and the TV I noticed a lady about 3m from us stand up, pack her bags and leave the table. She had however left a very large plate of half eaten fries, I noticed them immediately and apparently my mouth started salivating. Naturally Sarah looked over and asked me, "Do you want those fries?", and my first response was “No”. I would feel like a street person eating from someone else’s garbage, which to me felt a bit degrading. We discussed the situation for about 1 minute, Sarah reasoning that the cleaning staff would only throw out the food so if we didn’t eat them then it would be a waste. At this point the cleaning staff did come around to clean off the table and before they could get the plate of fries Sarah grabbed them from the table. I do have to admit they were the best fries I had had in a long time, and making them garbage fries maybe made them taste better. I guess I did feel a little like a street person, but, it did save us $10, which was used better along our travels
Ayer’s Rock Resort is where Uluru (Big Red Rock / Ayer’s Rock) is located. The town is actually called Ayer’s Rock Resort, because it is a mini-town of hotels and resorts. The town/resort is set up around a circular street that is about 10 km in circumference, and has a bus shuttle service that drives around the circle every 15 minutes. All the hotels are located around this circular street, ranging from the very expensive to the budget hostel to the campground as well as a shopping centre were you can set up tours, buy nick-nacks and get groceries. There is also a police station, car rental place and a gas station. The town is only serviced by the airport and the next closest town is Alice Springs, 400km away.
When we got to the airport in Ayer’s Rock Resort, we were deciding options for places to stay and also what would be the cost of a rental car. The price for a rental car was astronomical, so we scratched that idea. Then we asked around for the cheapest place to stay at the resort. Since we had brought our tent and sleeping gear we were ready to camp out, as long as it saved us some money. Naturally, the campground was the cheapest place to stay at the resort
When we got let off at the campground, we checked in, paid and then setup our stuff. We were arriving on a Sunday, which was lucky for us since it was the ending of a long weekend. The majority of people that had driven to Ayer’s Rock Resort Campground were leaving the following Monday to get back to where ever they were from. A lot of the tours to Uluru were not full and the prices were a bit lower.
Once we were done unpacking and setting up we decided to go the centre of ‘town’ – about 200m away - where there was a hill which had a lookout point to Uluru. It was almost sunset and this was the time when most people take photos of the largest rock in the world. Sunset lasted about 40 minutes, and we took a photo about every 5 minutes, the rock’s colour definitely changes as the sun set, it goes from a more pale red to a very vibrant red-orange and then finally to a dull brown colour. We had some amazing views and photos from this lookout. This is also the place were we met our ex-Canadian gay friend, Rick, that we spent the next day with. He was awesome and had all sorts of great ideas for things to check out - he had mentioned to us that he was on a tour to see Uluru and also another rock formation called Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). We left the lookout to go get some groceries and also to book the tour that Rick mentioned for the following day.
That night we booked a star gazing tour, which was incredible. The sky was very clear, no clouds or cover to block the stars
We left the star viewing area and were let off in front of the campground. The desert is an amazing place. It is very hot in the day as the sun is incredibly bright, and even being in the winter in Australia, it is very warm in the desert. However, come sundown and in the middle of the night the desert got very cold, we were using sweaters and long johns that we hadn’t used since the mountains of Patagonia. It was interesting to feel the temperature change, I had always heard of the large fluctuations in the desert, but never experienced it until now.
The next morning we left early to see Kata Tjuta which is another stunning rock formation close to Uluru. The microbus let us off at the beginning of a trail that led us around the rock and then through a valley. The rock was quite amazing it was soooo red and the best way to describe this rock would be “rock shit.” All the huge boulders and a majority of the huge rock formations looked like they were the rock feces of a larger rock monster or rock-being; they looked as if the rock monster had taken a huge dump. We walked around for about an hour looking at the different colours of the rock and discussing ideas with Rick.
Rick was a professor at a university in Perth, he was about 40 – 45 and was in really good shape
After we had walked around the Olgas for about 2 hrs the bus picked us up and brought us to Uluru for sunset and a walkabout. When we arrived at Uluru we only had about 1 hr before sunset, so naturally we didn’t have a lot of time to walk around the entire rock
When we got back to the resort Rick invited us back to his hotel room for drinks, dinner and some cheap Australian fare. We had to get the drinks from the one licensed retailer in the resort and we had to show Rick’s room key to do so
The Tim Tam Slam is the practice of drinking a beverage by sucking it through a Tim Tam, an Australian chocolate-covered biscuit, with both of the ends bitten off. Ideally, the inside of the biscuit should collapse but the outside should remain intact. Just before the biscuit falls apart, it is thrown in the mouth. The slam is best performed with a hot liquid, ideally something like hot chocolate (Milo in Australia), tea or coffee. It’s called the slam because you ‘slam’ it into your mouth and once you have done this you are ‘slammed’ with an immediate chocolaty taste in your mouth. Really intense. After we had finished dinner and desert with Rick we said our goodbye’s and headed back to the campground.
Ayer’s Rock was definitely a highlight for us – the only thing we didn’t do while there that we had wanted to was to ride some ferrel camels
The following day we took a plane in the late afternoon north to Cairns (‘Cans’). This is where we will rent a camper, hike around in the rainforest and take a trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Full-On mate.
Chao Chao for Now,
Nik and Sarah