Stop 5

Trip Start Jan 29, 2008
Trip End Apr 30, 2008

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Flag of Australia  ,
Thursday, February 21, 2008

We arrived at Alice Springs at 8 in the morning or something ridiculous, having travelled all night from Singapore.  needless to say we were pretty tired and stepping out of the airport into a wall of heat didn't really help much.  The taxi driver confirmed it was over 30 degrees already - help, we're going to fry!!!

We got settled into our hostel and quickly decided the only course of action was to have a siesta - at 10am.  Oh well, better early and then we might get something done during the day!! 

After a quick nap we headed into Alice springs which would probably normally be a ten minute walk, but in that heat it took us about half an hour.  And the flies, have I mentioned the flies?  I've never seen anything like it, and I used to spend some time in stables and around horses.  There is actually a good reason why Australian men used to (didn't see anyone wearing them so far) wear hats with corks on the end of long strings

Alice Springs is a tiny little town but I thought it was quite quaint and I'd have loved to spend a bit more time there.  It was only about five streets by five streets, very quiet but I'd say the locals are lively enough.  Apparently they have an annual boat race on the river that runs through the town.  The only problem being that the river bed is completely dry and has only been full once in the last fifty years.  Like I said, I'd say the locals are fairly lively.

We found a lovely lovely Austrian girl working in a travel shop in town and basically we had planned to go in and book a trip to Ayers Rock but we basically got out whole trip through Australia planned for us instead!!! 

We went home happy and got some groceries on the way and cooked our first home cooked meal in a long time.  I can't remember now what it consisted of, but it was cheap and cheerful!

The next day we were up at 5am to meet our bus to Ayers Rock.  On the upside, we did get to see the sun come up over the desert....

Our bus drivers were seriously nuts.  The two guys, Shorty and Peter took it in turns to drive while the other slept and the guy driving had a headset to keep us updated on what was going on in front of us, which in fairness wasn't an awful lot seeing as we were driving through the desert. Every now and then though there would be a wedgetail eagle eating a dead kangaroo or something off the side of the road.  We also saw where one of the farmers had collected up all the wild camels off his land (quite sizeable farms round here - 2 million acres, imagine the road frontage Marie!!!) and was keeping them in a pen before selling them.  Apparently camel steak is quite nice or sometimes they export them to Saudia Arabia of all places.  It was particularly amusing when Shorty drove - he really was shorter than me and seemed to have a lot of trouble reaching the clutch peddle.  I'm surprised there was a clutch left at the end of the day cos he really killed it.  And they say that women can't drive...

Anyway, after about four hours on the bus we arrived at the Uluru National Park.  The land is now owned by the Aboriginies and leased to the government for use as a National Park and is therefore no longer Ayers Rock but the original Aboriginal name, Uluru.  To say it was about 10 when we got in and it was already above forty degrees tells you what we were dealing with.  We firstly went to the Kata Tjanka rocks and walked up through a walkway between them.  An hour later we were back at the bus and suffering dehydration from the amount of sweat we'd lost.  Sarah had taken to using her mosquito net head cover (who'd have thought that'd come in handy - apparently they're worn quite a lot over there) while we were walking and we then headed back to Uluru itself.  The tour guides were well up on the Aboriginal folklore behind the rock and it was actually very interesting.  The other thing that hits you is how big it is.  You kind of don't expect to take a full day to get driven round a big rock, stopping off a few times for a walking tour.  We finished the day in the time honoured traditional Aussie way - a barbie overlooking Uluru while the sun set.  That was quite good fun, particularly because at that stage there was a very strong wind and everyone's plastic cups kept flying all over the camp area, with various people chasing after them. 

We were well ready for bed by the time we got to our hostel at Ayers Rock.  We spent the next day chilling out at the resort.  For anyone thinking of visiting I wouldn't recommend staying at Ayers Rock.  It's one big resort split into hotels/campsites and hostels all owned by the one company who can charge what they like and there's no local town or village so the place lacks any kind of personality or character.  Much better to travel from Alice Springs I reckon ( you see, I'm even talking like one of them now!).  Anyhow, as we were chilling out, waiting for our flight to Cairns, it started raining.  Can you believe it?  Everywhere we have visited to date, whether it be 30 degree heat in Bangkok or 40+ degree heat in the middle of the Australian desert, it rains when we're there.  Apparently we're very lucky - only 1% of visitors to the rock see rain while they are there.  Anyhow, onward and upward to Cairns, lets see if it rains there....
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