Ayers Rock

Trip Start Jan 13, 2006
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Trip End Feb 15, 2006


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Friday, February 3, 2006

Ayers Rock (Uluru)
We had been driving for about three hours in the desert when we finally saw a huge rock formation off in the distance, but as we got closer we saw no turnout or more importantly any hotel or resort, and soon enough we had passed it. We later learned that it wasn't a mirage but rather Mt. Connor.

We arrived to Ayers Rock or as the Aborigine call it Uluru. It wasn't impressive site from far away but as you got right upon its character came out, and the different lights of the day drew out more characters and feels. Our first upfront exposure to it was in the rain as we tried to hike the circumference of the massive rock. Well about 45 minutes we had to turn around not because of the rain but rather the mass flies that attack you the whole time. Easily, even in the rain, we each had 50 to 100 flies on you with many trying for the mouth, nose, eyes, and ears (See our Travel Note). The rained continued on and off so our fancy dinner under the stars was cancelled. To make up for it we had dinner of peanut butter and crackers and a snickers while we watched the sunset on Ayers rock...of course with all the flies.

Ayers Rock Quick Facts
-Ayers Rock is carved from one huge, unfractured piece of rock.
-It is 3.6kms long and rises 348 meters from the surrounding scrub, as almost 2/3 of the rock lies below the ground.
-Ayers Rock birth came over 550 million years ago.

The next morning we were up early (4:45 AM) for our Sunset Camel Ride out to Ayers Rock. We arrived to the Camel farm before sunrise and mounted our Camels for a 30-minute ride out to see the sunset. The ride out was awesome as the sun started to creep up to create that magical time before dawn. We stopped and watched the sunrise on Ayers Rock for about 20 minutes getting some great pictures thanks to our guide. In addition, the camel behind us got friendly with Scott as he rubbed his head on Scott's side. (I think Scott still hasn't washed that shirt yet.) Of course once the sun was up so were the flies so the ride home wasn't as peaceful. Back on the farm we had some beer bread and coffee and got to hang out with two younger camels and talk with our guide for awhile.

As we got home from our Camel Ride by 7:30 AM we got in the car, with our fly net hats, and took off for the Olgas, which were in the same national park. The Olgas are quite different from Ayers rock as they resemble pillars rather than one huge rock and our more impressive from a distance rather than close up. We ventured out of the car with our sweet hats to hike up one of the gorges and got some nice pictures. The rest of the day was spent sleeping in our room fly free!

Ayers Rock Quick Facts
-The first European explorer to reach Ayers rock was W.C Gosse on July 19, 1873.
-He named it after Sir Henry Ayers, Premier of South Australia
-The first true year of tourism of Ayers rock was in 1958 with 2,296 visitors during the year.
-1974 saw 58,360 visitors while 1994 saw 312,500 visitors.

Our dinner under the stars called "The Sounds of Silence" was on and was the highlight of our trip to Ayers rock. We were taken out to a very remote area in the wilderness with about 75 other people. The evening started with our champagne sunset where we walked up a small hill and could see the sunset on both Ayers Rock and The Olgas while we sipped champagne had some appetizers. Once the sun was setting, we headed back down the hill to our candlelit table to start the dinner. We actually sat with a very nice couple that we met in the Camel Sunrise trip the same morning, Melissa and Paul. They were from Oregon and the other two couples at our table were from the UK, so we were equally represented. The dinner was served in courses and was buffet style. After soup, we were able to be as adventurous as we wanted with options including Crocodile Ceasear and Kangaroo meat. We tried some of those since we were in Australia and overall the food was just amazing. After dessert they came around and blew out all of the candles so that it was pitch dark in the middle of the Outback. Someone came out and pointed out all of the constellations and gave us a bit of history as well. It was so peaceful and amazing to see that many stars! After we checked them out thru the telescopes it was time for us to head back to the hotel - about 11pm. It was an amazing night! Thanks Karen and Chris!

TRAVEL NOTES:
Ayers Rock is a once in a lifetime thing to see, so to it right be following these tips:
1. Be prepared for the flies!!!! They are there year around and can ruin a trip, so be prepared with a fly net hat before you do any activities in the national park. You can purchase a hat in any of the gift stores for $6.50 AUD.
2. When selecting accommodations at the resort select the cheapest possible as all of them are in the same complex and share the same resources. We stayed at the Lost Camel, which was right next to the Town Centre.
3. The food and water there is extremely expensive so we would recommend bringing your own with the knowledge that your fridge space will be limited. We did buy a 15 Liter Container of water in Alice Springs for $7AUD and filled up smaller water bottles with it. Remember it is suggested that you drink 1 litter of water for every hour outside per person.
4. The long centipedes can set you back a day if they bite you so be careful.
5. Our Recommended itinerary (As it tops 40 degrees celisus during the day most activities are in the early morning or evening but here is our recommended itinerary
- Depending when you get in plan to do the Sounds of Silence the first night
- The next morning to the sunrise camel ride
- Right after the camels go see the Olgas for a couple of hours.
- Catch up on your sleep during midday into the afternoon.
- Go out to see the Sunset at Ayers Rock and go for drinks at Outback Pioneer Hotel.
- Next day get out of town, as you will be sick of the flies.
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