3.5 Day Outback Safari

Trip Start Aug 16, 2004
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Trip End Aug 13, 2005


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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

We came back yesterday evening from a 3.5 day tour of Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. There were 18 people on the tour including ourselves - a bit bigger than the Kakadu trip! Huss, our guide was similar to our Kakadu guide, Andy. Both seemed to have neverending knowledge about the history, culture, flora and fauna of the area. Superb!

Day 1 started with a nice relaxing midday start with our first stop being a camel farm. You could take a quick ride on the camels, which I recommend. However, having already ridden a camel in the Sahara Desert, we didn't bother this time.

We were aiming to get to Uluru (Ayers Rock) for the sunset but we had a couple of unplanned stops. The first was to collect some firewood for our camp. This was actually planned, however, getting the van stuck in the sand was not. So a bit of teamwork and a lot of pushing eventually resulted in the van being on the road again.

Stop 2 was because Huss spied a Thorny Devil and went to catch it for us to take photos and hold it. The Thorny Devil is a very ugly lizard, but it also looks quite cute!

So these delays meant that we had to stop at a random sand dune to watch the sunset. Not very spectacular but we weren't fussed as we still had day 2 at the rock!

After sunset, we made it to our campsite, which was luxury compared to Kakadu. We had proper toilets and showers and a gas BBQ. Brilliant. Didn't have tents though - just slept under the stars in our sleeping bags and swags. Didn't manage to see any shooting stars myself, but apparently there were a few about.

Day 2 was a really early start at 4:30am to catch the sunrise at Uluru. This was quite good, to see the rock changing colour as the sun's rays hit it. However, we were all slightly disappointed because at the sunrise point, you look at the rock, and the sun is rising behind you. The same thing happens at sunset. From the sunset point, the sun sets behind you as you watch the colours change on the rock.

After sunrise, we went to the cultural centre to learn all about the local Aboriginal culture. A lot of the information is not known as it is kept within the Aboriginal community. There used to be 300 different Aboriginal nations with 300 different languages. However since white man invaded Australia, there is now only approximately 30 Aboriginal nations left. The cultural centre is definitely worth a visit - to try and appreciate the traditions and cultures of the native people. Uluru is in the middle of a national park, and so there are some sites that are not allowed to be photographed or walked on as they are considered sacred by the Aboriginal people. The rock itself is also considered sacred, but people are allowed to take photographs and climb the rock, as part of a deal that was made when the park was given back to the Aboriginals from the Australian government in 1985.

So, after the cultural centre we went to see if the climb was open. It had been closed earlier due to high winds, but now it was open. It is permitted to climb it, but the Aboriginal people prefer that you don't. So I didn't. Graham did though, and he took a video from the top of Uluru. Whilst he was busy climbing, I did the 9km walk around the base. Much more my style - flat! Still hard work in temperatures of 32 or more. Take plenty of water and rest often.

After lunch and a swim, we went to Kata Tjutu (The Olgas) for a 6km walk through the Valley of the Winds. It was windy! Kata Tjutu is 38 giant rock domes, and they lie in a line with Uluru and Atilla (Mt Connor). It is at the other end of the National Park from Uluru and again there are some spots where photography is forbidden due to sacred ceremonnial sites.

Once back at the campsite it was another night under the stars, but with a cooler breeze so that sleeping was a bit easier.

Day 3 - we got up early again to see the sunrise again but from the sunset point. This was the best thing about the tour as it was the first time that Huss had taken a group there. It was well worth it - the views of the sunrise was fantastic, helped in part by a bit of early morning cloud which made the colours stand out more. After that, the day was more relaxing as we did the Mala walk at the base of the rock. This is a 1km informative walk and is best done with a guide to explain the different stories and features of the walk.

From then it was a long drive to Kings Canyon for another swim and then dinner. Most people were tired so went to bed early in preparation for the 6.5km hike the next day. Not us, or the 2 Canadians on the tour. We decided that preparation was best spent in the pub. Unfortunately this meant a 6km walk there and a 6km walk back. This turned into a bit longer as we kept getting lost! Did eventually make it back to the campsite after learning how to play the didgeri-cones!!!

The final day involved a 6.5km walk round Kings Canyon. This is a fairly easy walk apart from the first 250metres which is commonly known at Heart Attack Hill. Myself and Graham also decided to take a helicopter flight over the top of the canyon. This was really good, and if you have the money then just do it! After lunch it was a very long 5-6 hrs drive home to a long shower and a nice soft bed. Brilliant!
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