Day 18: Back to Alice Springs

Yesterday, we watched the sun rise on Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), and set on Uluru. So this morning, we set out to see the sun rise with Uluru as our main view. But it was cold! At approximately 6 degrees and with the wind blowing, it was not the nicest place to be at 06:30. The sun rising was really nice, and Uluru got a nice extra reddish colour from it, but we have been cold four hours after that.

We have to leave Yulara today to head back to Alice Springs, as we fly out to Darwin tomorrow. We also have to hand in our car at the airport, so gas has to be put in. This Toyota FJ Cruiser has not one but two fuel tanks, for a grand total of around 160 litres. And it needs it all, as the gas mileage is not great. One might even say it is bad. The 4 litre V6 is burning through the stuff at a staggering rate. Today, I got half a tank of gas for $160 AU! For those keeping count, that is well over €110. I did put in around 75 litres, but still.

The drive back from Yulara is awesome! Clocking in at about 450kms, it takes you through an arid desert with great variance in colours and vegetation. It also is much greener and much denser in growth that you’d expect. With the great West MacDonnell Ranges as its backdrop, it is breathtaking views all around. And you still have to focus on driving on the wrong side of the road at 130km/h on a narrow two lane road where the other lane has oncoming traffic!

The weather has been great today, albeit a little cold. We hit a high of 16 degrees today. Just as a reminder: in a few months it’ll regularly be over 40 degrees, so it is quite chilly out right now. After arriving at Alice Springs, we went for a stroll in the nearby Old Telegraph Station Reserve in the hopes of spotting some wildlife. And we did! Back in the resort we determined we saw Euros, a kind of Wallaroo. This is an animal similar to a Kangaroo and a Wallaby, but in height just between them. The Euro is the most common of them. But they are a joy to watch. 🙂

Day 17: Uluru!

Today, we can spend the entire day in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, as we spend not one but two nights in the village-like Ayers Rock Resort. This Resort is nothing short of a small town, as it has three hotels, a campground, 8 restaurants, an amphitheatre, a petrol station, a supermarket, a whole load of bars and even a suburb where the staff is housed. We, of course, are in the cheapest hotel called Outback Pioneers Lodge. And it’s great. Even the water is drinkable straight from the tap and does not smell like your average swimming pool!

We start the day really early as we want to be at the gate of the National Park at 6AM. We bought our entrance tickets with a three day validity yesterday already, and so we are all geared up for the 75km drive to Kata Tjuta to see the sun rise and shine its first beams of light on these rocks. The good thing about this place is not only that, but also that you can see the sun rise from behind Ayers Rock. So cool!

After breakfast we have picked a walk at Kata Tjuta, and wanted to walk about an hour to and from a lookout point between two of these huge rocks. After arriving there, we were astonished by the beauty of the place, and after talking to a local guide, we decided to walk the extra 1.6km to the second lookout. This was quite a strenuous walk, with lots of climbing and loose rocks on sharp inclines. But the view at the second lookout was totally worth it. The group with the local guide was walking the same track, and we decided to tag along and continue on the 7.4km full loop, something we actually wanted to avoid doing at the beginning of the day. But, having completed the full Valley Of The Winds Loop, it was the best thing we had done in a long time. When you are at this NP, ignore that lone big rock everybody is looking at and head for Kata Tjuta. It is so much better!

Later on this afternoon, we have walked near to Ayers Rock (Uluru, as the aboriginals call it) to learn a little bit more about the cultural significance of this rock to the Aboriginal people living here. We ended the day looking at the sun setting on Uluru, where it creates a almost magical red shine on the rock, unlike the usual red. It gets way more fiery, and lights up beautifully. Great!

Tomorrow, we have another big day of driving in front of us, as we will complete the circle and return to Alice Springs.

Day 16: Heading for the rock

As our new car is only scheduled to arrive at Kings Creek Station around 10 this morning, we have some downtime ahead of us. We made the most of it by sitting around the tent (it’s tiny, and there is a shared bathroom which we need to share with about 80 French people) and enjoying the early sunshine. The guy from Outback Recovery arrived precisely on time, and our car was swapped in under 20 minutes. Yay! We also got rid of the hideous Safari Brown colour, and now have a shiny Blue one. To top things off, the new one has a full tank of gas in it, while we didn’t fill the other one up. 🙂

The drive to Uluru was amazing. The skies started off fully blue, but as we went along, small white clouds started to appear, until when we arrived at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the skies over Uluru had a few but not too many clouds in them to make for an awe inspiring view, unlike any you have seen on a postcard of this iconic rock. This probably is the best gift I could’ve wished for over here.

We have spent the rest of the afternoon at Kata Tjuta, or The Olgas as they are also known, and have even watched the sun set with these mountainous rocks as a backdrop. Tomorrow, we’ll start early and will see the sun rise, so that means we have to be at the gate of the Park at 6AM!