Uluru, or Ayers Rock as we know it back home in the UK, is obviously a place that we relate to when we think of Australia. Never really understanding the story behind this amazing natural wonder of the world I did feel a little naive visiting. But it does have an incredible, historical story and value behind it, and receives great respect from tourists, however there are those who ignore the signs and just go ahead and climb the rock and photograph particular areas of it that advise not to. Sad really.
In the photo above is Mount Conner, part of the same vast rock as Uluru and is often mistaken to be Uluru as it lies on the same road running to it. And yes at first we did all make that mistake. It is often known as ‘Fool-uru’. This is probably the closest to a photo you get unfortunately, due to the rock being on private land, so unless you want to pay to go on one of those expensive tours, seeing it from a distance it is.
We arrived at the rock after a long drive through the border of the South to Northern Territory. Suddenly into tourist world. Buses, coaches, campers and caravans flock to Uluru everyday in time for the stereotypical red, glowing sunset photograph. Of course we had to be part of the picture. It is a beautiful, amazing part of the world to see and to say you have seen at the age of 22. The only disappointment is the flies. Hundreds and thousands of them swarming around you makes a stroll around the rock very unpleasant, unless you want to cover your head with a net and look stupid. To be totally honest you only really need to spend perhaps even half a day at Uluru, depending on how far you hike or whether it is a sunrise or sunset photo you take, but once you’ve seen it there’s only so much you can do here.
That evening we headed for an early night at a roadside camp spot before getting up for our sunrise view of Uluru. We had a bowl of tinned soup whilst admiring the orange glow of the night and the stars come out and smother the sky.
The following morning we made it to the National Park ground for opening time at six o’clock. It was bloody freezing! Definitely worth the early morning rise though. However it obviously attracted crowds of people with their huge cameras and loud voices, so it is hard to find a time and place to watch the sunrise in complete peace at Uluru.
That day we moved on to our next stop, Kings Canyon, where we stayed overnight at a campsite in the bush. With an afternoon free, the sun shining and the opportunity of an ice cream we all chilled out around the campsite pool, well apart from Tom, he disappeared and was found hours later asleep! As the night fell the dingoes began to howl, and hunters guns were going off. Quite a different environment to sleep in compared to my quite little town back home in the UK.
The next day was another five o’clock wake up call ready for our six km hike through Kings Canyon before the sun came out and became too hot to walk. To be honest we thought the hike was going to be much harder, but after around 100m of climbing steep steps, it is a relatively flat walk amongst the canyon. We did it in half the time than expected; around two hours. The landscape and views were amazing. On route you come across the Garden of Eden, a creek wedged between the Canyon housing dinosaur aged plants, and a dry river bed where water would run through during the days of rain, but that is very rare for the Outback. I would definitely recommend making the visit to this incredible formation of rocks and to do the full hike, it really isn’t as hard as they make it out to be.
Following on from Kings Canyon we hit the centre city of Australia, Alice Springs. One word; horrid! We parked up in the eerie town centre, no one was to be seen other than a bunch of drunk aboriginals roaming the empty streets. Turning up on a Sunday was probably not the best idea, and it clearly showed, however after unexpectedly having to stay longer in Alice we gave the town another chance. Not worth it. It lacks any sort of decent shops, restaurants or cafes, a completely shattered atmosphere and no sense on community. Very disappointing. Thankfully we were put up in a really lovely campsite, around five kilometres out of the centre, which made up for the dead zone city.
Three extra days later in Alice, with Jucy all fixed up, we were back on the road, and heading to our last leg of the journey along Barkly Highway and onto Flinders Highway till Cairns. Stopping off along the way at the famous mining town, Mount Isa. Again not the most attractive town but one of the larger ones along the way. Other stop offs included Cloncurry, my favourite Outback town in Oz, just for the pristine look of the place; it appeared to be adapted more to our current century, Julia Creek, Richmond, Hughenden, Prarie (another story to be told here!) and Charters Towers. Last stop was Townsville overnight, where we free camped by the beautiful Saunders beach. A very special last night.
6,500 kilometres later we made it to Cairns!