21.11.2010 - 30.11.2010 34 °C
After picking up Dave in Katheryn, we drove 600k south to Tennant Creek passing soil n brush. 6 hrs later we arrive in Tennant Creek. Now Tennant Creek, whilst this has a bottle shop (which by the way is seperate to supermarkets - you actually have to go to a seperate store to buy alcohol which I still can't get my head round, something to do with licencing laws out here) is by no means more than a stoppover which you make grudgingly - in n out as fast as you can go! We went to the old YHA which made our hearts sink slightly as we pulled up and saw what looked like tin containers... Infact they were our dorm rooms. With aircon. Apparantly. There were four bunkbeds in our room which was ok. Outside the kitchen were two bird cages with ill looking parakeets in them, a wall of rock samples (for some strange reason, but i loved it nonetheless), then onto the female bathroom (which has a sign in saying 'aids travels the world too!', a gentle reminder to those who were ignorant of this).
There was a wooden outdoor pool, not sunk into the ground but a freestanding wooden frame filled with water. The steps had collapsed somewhat but it was still useable. Indeed the swallows or other equivalent birds frequently swooped down for a refreshing drink out of it mid flight. So all in all a fairly strange hostel on the outlook, but actually an ok place to stay. If forced. The next morning, onto Alice Springs, but not before reaching my highlight so far..... The Devil's Marbles!! 15 minute photo shoot later of me doing the usual photo poses it got crowded with people, so we made a move onward to Alice.
We arrived and sought out Toddys backpackers, which was fine, had two pools and a kitchen but breakfast was a sorry affair- you had to ask for your breakfast at the reception desk and were given two pieces of bread in a plastic bag to do with as we wished. Which of course we toasted, but it was depressing they were too tight to trust us enough to ration bread from normal bread bags like other hostels...After settling into out room, we went for walk to find the tourist info centre for more info on Uluru, routes and weather forecasts, but they weren't that helpful. We called ahead to book our accommodation at two resorts in the red centre so that we wouldn't be left stranded in the outback then we went to Bojangles saloon bar for a well deserved beer. And a pack of crisps.
We set off the next day bright and early and drove the 6 hrs to kings canyon resort where we made our tea and prepared ourselves for the next days events. We got up early and drive to kings canyon, hiked up it. The beginning was 100m steep climb where we spotted lizards on the rocks on the way up, we saw the river filled with trees instead of water and the sides of the gorge, a deep orange with black crusting.
The walk went along the canyon rim, and we were onstantly climbing up weathered rock that had formed a kind of stairway as the rain had eroded the outer parts away, to then go down to a lookout over the canyon, to climb back up to continue the walk. We went down to the Garden of Eden, climbing down alongside rock piles, to the bottom of the river bed where there was a stream of sorts, more stagnant pools surrounded by sand and trees with stones strewn throughout. We clambered over these before realising perhaps this wasnt the garden- didnt look so grand. So we went back to the main path and found some steps and a path which lead us to the proper garden, a huge pool of water, refreshingly cool which you could swim in. We didn't cos at that moment it started to spit and thunderclaps could be heard getting nearer n nearer and we weren't quite sure how much of the walk we had left! So we headed back to the car somewhat faster than we started and set of for Yulara resort near Uluru. It was more basic than the kings canyon resort but the same price unfortunatley! Just nearer to the next two places we wanted to go. We settled in and had dinner then an early night...
The next morning we got up and drove to the Olgas, which are north west of Uluru rock. We Walked along the trails stopping at three lookouts. This time the rocks were more eroded by wind than rain, they had black channels running down them, algae. It was cool when we did our walks and the wind certainly provided a fresh breeze. Once we finished the walk we drove to the su set lookout nr Uluru to watch the sun set. Whilst this was nice to watch it wasn't amazing as it's been made out to be (perhaps it was the weather?) but I took photos nonetheless.
We drove Back to Yulara resort n had dinner, agreeing that whilst were in the Red Centre we'd make the most of it n get up for sunrise at
Uluru. So we got up and drove to the sunrise viewig point (same as the sunset one) and watched the sun rise over Uluru...with the crowds...then we had breakfast and drove to the visitors centre. We waited til the cafe opened at 7 and got a cuppa tea then at 8 made it to the free ranger guided tour at the base of Uluru. 1.5 hrs of bush talking later, desperate for a wee, we head back to the visitors centre to read up on the rest of the Uluru rock facts- mainly though, to use the toilets.
Now, in case I haven't already, I should introduce Ron, Laura n Daves Ford Falcon estate that has faithfully been travelling with laura n I since we left Darwin. He has his moments of not liking my iPod music (he regularly skips my favourite tracks without notice or hanged the volume) and has certain 'features' you have to get to know but apart from that he's ace. The next paragraph is delicate ... We all lost a good friend on our last day in the outback. Ron would not start again - he stubbornly remained immobile outside Uluru Rock visitors centre, despite L and D trying all the tricks in the book. To cut a long story short, Ron ended up being towed to the Yulara mechanic on a Saturday afternoon, the outcome of which was that Ron is now awaiting to be crushed. Laura, Dave and I had to hire a car to drive back to Alice Springs so that I could catch my flight to Cairns n so L n D could regroup n decide what to do next...Back in Alice we had a day to recover from our loss and say our farewells. It felt strange leaving them behind, in Australia, after having so much fun, and I have great memories of our time together. In particular our three hour game of 'I packed in my suitcase' which lasted from Uluru to Alice Springs!! Agh...