Sunrise and Flies at the Rock

Trip Start Dec 03, 2004
Trip End Nov 31, 2005

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Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Another early morning, hurrah! This time the excuse is that we have to get up for sunrise, so we stumble around trying to put our swags away in the pitch black. The drive back into the park gives me a glimpse of the black silhouette of the Rock, framed against an amber crush of early morning light; the red and purple bands have just begun to peek above the horizon when we pull around to the opposite side of Uluru, because we're actually here to watch the effect of the light on the Rock, not the Rock against the Light.

As the sun rises, Uluru goes . . . more red. And there are more flies. And again, about five hundred people milling around, working the angles, looking for the best photo. I'm glad when we get back on the bus and are dropped off for our nine kilometre hike around the base.

Right out on the walk we run into an inquisitive dingo in the grass; maybe the same one that ate Lindy Chamberlain's baby. It looks like a reddish dog to me, which in a way is what it is. Dorothy and I walk ahead of the others, gritting our teeth as the sun rises to the right angle to completely blind us. I shoot sideways glances at the faces and folds of Uluru. Partway around we duck off the main trail to meander between eucalypts to a little waterhole, where a reflective silver basin of water contemplates life at the bottom of undulating waterflows. Here the rest of the group must have passed us, because when we finish walking around they are already back at the bus, irritably swatting flies and contemplating lunch.

There's no rest for the wicked, though, and no food either, until we dash over to Kata Tjuta (previously known as the Olgas, a series of rounded red domes in the desert) and hike up the canyon between two of the domes. I'm overcome with tourist-sickness, the feeling that nothing is worth contemplating except a pool and a margarita. Everyone is crabby, angry about the flies, and by now ominously hungry. Firie whisks us back to the camp for chicken burgers and restores equilibrium, then drives us the couple hours up the road to the Kings Canyon Resort, where we are given time to cool off in---yes---the pool.

Our camp that night is in the bush, but a less lonely bush I could not imagine, as four other Adventure Tours Australia busses are gathered around the little cabins. We have a camp fire oven with the coals from our bonfire (wood gathered on a little side road where the bus almost ran down a herd of wild horses). The little tents and their tiny bunks are sweltering that night, and the younger Germans are up 'til all hours chattering and dancing about to inaudible music. I know the five o'clock wake up will be unbearable.
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