Friday 29 March 2013

Road to Uluru

Last weekend I reread 'Down Under', Bill Bryson's book about his travels in Australia.  So much of what he wrote about Alice Springs and Uluru echoes my own scribblings that I'm tempted just (in the words of my eldest nephew) to write 'oh yeah, know dat.'  One of the things Bill Bryson points out is that Alice Springs, though commonly regarded as a jumping off point for Uluru, is not actually that close to it - nearly 450km away, in fact.  In Ireland, that would be regarded as a MAJOR JOURNEY, and, as it was, I had to get up at 5 to be ready for my bus trip to the Rock.  (Because I was limited on time, I booked an all-in coach trip with Emu Tours.)  The trip takes the best part of five hours each way, so it was just as well that the scenery was worth looking at.

Beginning with sunrise over Alice Springs ...

After about two hours, we stopped at Erldunda Roadhouse (incidentally, the geographic centre of Australia is just over beyond those satellite dishes).  This is the last place with phone reception before Yulara (the resort at Ayers Rock).

That was the biggest excitement for a while.  The view for the next hour or two looked like this:

And then!  In the distance, you see it ... a long, low rock appearing on the horizon.

And it turns out to be Mt Conner, not the big rock you were expecting.  Though beautiful, none the less - and, like Uluru, a sacred site for the local indigenous people.

We stopped when we got a bit closer so that we could step into the red sand and see a typical lakebed - now just a salt flat.

As we got closer to Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park, I noticed that the underside of the clouds was pink - reflecting the red earth all around.

Our first stop in the park was not 'the' rock but some other rocks: the Olgas or Kata Tjuta.  Here's me with my unattractive but necessary fly-proof hat.

And here are a couple of pictures of Kata Tjuta, a group of domed rock formations.  The snake king Wanambi is supposed to live on the top of the highest dome.

And if you think they're impressive - just wait for Uluru!

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