Here we are in the middle of Australia. The red centre. We arrive in Alice Springs which according to our helpful and informative taxidriver is a town (not a city) in an oasis as it is surrounded by hills. It definitely has a town kind of atmosphere that is quite relaxing. We wander around a little bit and enjoy one of our best lunches sofar in Oz. We look around in some aboriginal art galleries and see the same work by an artist we have seen before in Melbourne. She (Jeanie Petyarre) and her sisterss make some extraordinary paintings and we decide to buy two and send them home. The Australian meat dish (smoked emu, kangaroo steak, camel pie and barramundi fish filet) in our lunch restaurant is also delicious so I guess we have found our favorite restaurant in Alice. Next day it is time to pick up our Bushwagon. It's a 4WD camper so we can get of the main roads. It's a lot smaller as our previous one but quite comfy. Only sleeping feels like you're in a coffin. First we have to do some shopping.
Groceries are no problem but then we want to buy some beer and wine at the liquor store. Now it gets interesting. As we are in the Northern Territory they have a law that you can only buy alcohol for take away from 2pm onwards. Well we don't want to wait for that and as there are not so many places on the way to buy liquor we just have to drink water and juice on this trip! After this small mishap we start our trip. We drive along the Mac Donnell ranges visiting some great gorges for a few hikes and we find the desert to be a lot greener than expected. Green trees and bushes are dotted in the red soil. There's only one thing well actually a lot of things that are bugging us. The flies! Man they are annoying.
They prefer to go into your nose, ears and in between your camera and face when you try to take a picture! Maybe we should buy one of those nets to put over your head. It just looks really silly and we decide to stick to the Aussie handwaving. For our first night we decide to bushcamp on a small camping only accesible for 4WD. Lots of loose sand and just before we find a nice spot we get stuck in the sand! Time to get the portable spade out and free ourselves.
We succeed and find a beautiful spot virtually under a tree with 3 nests of brown Falcons in it of which one is occupied with a couple. An amazing sight and a great experience to have dinner knowing these Falcons are watching us. Next day we head out to Kings Canyon with a detour to a huge meteorite crater (Tnolara) quite an impressive sight to see this crater appear out of nowhere. From here we get deeper into the outback. A long unsufaced road brings us finally to Kings Canyon.
You can tell that you are in tourist country. More tourists than we've seen sofar in OZ. The rim walk that you can do here in Kings Canyon is absolutely impressive. The canyon was formed 400 million years ago as sanddunes were packed onto each other which gives a thin layered kind of rock formations. The gorge in it was formed some 40 million years ago when the canyon started to collaps. Now it's time to go to the major tourist attraction of Australia: Uluru a.k.a Ayers Rock.
Now here it's business. You can only stay at the resort area which in a way makes sense as tourists are packed together and can do less damage to the surrounding area which is sacred to the aboriginals. The campground is actually quite OK. Its here we decide to stop the handwaving and start looking silly wearing those facial nets. It helps but drinking through those nets is pretty hard.Time to do some serious sightseeing. First we go to Uluru for the base walk around this huge monolith. As it is sacred for the aboriginals and they don't want you to climb it we respect their wishes (not like everybody, as you can still climb it). The base walk around it is also rewarding with great views on every side of the rock and the vast plains that surround it. Off course we went to watch the sunset (with a couple of hundred other people) which is quite dramatic.
Now Uluru is not the only rock here but also Kata Tjuta a.k.a. The Olgas are in this national park. They are as impressive as Uluru if not more impressive. The walk of the winds through the Kata Tjuta is definitely more beautiful. Also the sunset at Kata Tjuta is more dramatic and far less crowded so I guess our favorite is Kata Tjuta. On the road back to Alice we finally get to see the immense plains of the outback. Red soil, yellow grasses and small schrubs for miles and miles and miles.
We stop for lunch at Stuarts well, where at night Dingy the singing Dingo performs. We would have loved to see it but we have other plans. We spend our last night camping in the East Mac Donnell Ranges. A lovely setting near a dry river with green gum trees red rocks and some peace and quiet after the busy nights at Uluru.
After a few small hikes we have to head back to Alice. Guess where we had our last dinner in Alice! Yep the red ochre grill our favorite.
So this was another great trip with scenery so much different but equally impressive with only one minor thing.... we didn't see one kangaroo on our way ( not even a dead one along the road). You'll hear from us again after our trip in the Darwin region.