The Red Centre.

Trip Start Jan 16, 2008
Trip End Apr 27, 2008

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Monday, February 18, 2008

We arrived in Perth 5 days ago and headed straight out into the nearby suburb of Fremantle, a trendy town and the haunt of all the backpackers in the area. The first day in Freo was great, but we couldn't quite work out what all the hype was about - there were a few nice shops and it was a really picturesque town, right on a big port, and the weather was equally great, but apart from that it seemed no different from your average seaside town. We took a trip into Perth city centre on the trains, which run like clockwork and put our system back in the UK to shame, and hit the shops to replace all our belongings that were ruined from a month in Africa, and then headed back to the hostel.

The hostel was by far the most uncomfortable night sleep we've had so far on the whole trip. We were put into a cosy 16-person dorm and, rather than the dry heat that Perth is known for, it must have been climbing towards 100% humidity, while the evening temperatures remained well above 30. We didn't have the luxury of air conditioning either.

Nevertheless, the next day we awoke (or at least, got up), and decided to hire some scooters for a few hours to have a ride up the coast. While walking around, a whole new side of Freo opened up that we had totally missed - trendy bars and cafes stood alongside trendy clothes stores on a long street which ran parallel to the marina. It totally changed our opinion of the town, and it was a really cool place to hand out. After walking around for a few hours we finally found the scooter place and, after a few minutes trying to get used to riding the scooters (we both shot out of the car park and nearly crashed in the same parked car opposite, something about accelerating and braking at the same time), we finally got to grips and spent an enjoyable 2 hours scootering up the coast and seeing the beaches that Perth is reknowned for.

The following day we caught an early flight to Ayers Rock. It was a funny flight - I think the pilot must have been training because the landing was hilarious, but we arrived just about in one piece at midday.

Yulara (the town built for Ayers Rock) is a funny place and reminded us both of Disneyworld. Everything was immaculately groomed and the hotels themed. It's the most expensive hostel that we'd be staying in on the whole trip so we hoped we wouldn't be disappointed, and we weren't - really nice, new rooms of 4 people, with air conditioning and a nice bar. We watched sunset over Uluru (Ayers Rock) that night from the viewing point and then went to the Outback Pioneer BBQ, where you buy meat from the counter and cook in on their BBQs, and we enjoyed a feast of Kangaroo, Emu and Beef sausages and Crocodile.

On our only full day in Ayers Rock we took a short helicopter flight over the rock and luckily the visibility was great and the views we got were stunning, taking in Mt Connor and The Olgas (similar landforms) aswell as the massive Ayers Rock.

The midday heat was way too hot to go out so we took the opportunity to chill out in the room. I've just finished reading Dan Brown's Angels & Demons and, considering I don't read much fiction, it was a fantastic book.

Ayers Rock's only downside is the flies - they are absolutely everywhere and, unlike normal flies which you can waft away, these flies land on you and stick - you have to actually knock them off your face. They're also attracted to all the moisture on your face - mouths, nostrils and eyes. We should've invested in cork hats.

We had hoped to go on a stargazing tour last night at Ayers Rock Observatory but unfortunately the clouds came in and obscured our view of the stars. At least its an excuse to come back. Instead we had a few drinks in bar and tucked into our homemade dessert of powdered chocolate mousse (we've realised we've got to start cooking for ourselves if our budget is to last us).

Then this morning we had an early start at 5am to crawl out of bed up to the viewing point to see the sunrise over Uluru and, after a few more hours in bed, flew up to Cairns, where it's been raining ever since. It's an awesome hostel and a shame we can't stay for longer to enjoy it, but tomorrow morning at 7am we start our journey down the East coast of Oz to Sydney...
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