Monday, 22 October 2012

Outback Adventure Time! (otherwise known as trip to Uluru)

So we finally made it to the "outback" after living in Sydney for close to 15 months!  We planned this trip when we first got back from traveling back to the states in June and realized how quick our time here was going by.  We left on Friday morning and came back to Sydney Monday evening.  I think it was the perfect amount of time to spend in the Uluru area.  Although a lot of people do a mini-road trip from Alice Springs, which would mean more time is needed.  

Really the only consensus we had from people was that the trip would be expensive.  The set up just makes it that way... it is in the middle of nowhere and there is one "town" that has all the different levels of resorts.  However, they are all owned and run by the same company, keeping costs pretty high for everything.  I will say I did not have as much "sticker shock" as I thought I would.  I guess because Sydney prices are so high, I really was not phased by the cost of food in the Uluru area.  Anyways, we knew it was going to be a costly trip, but it was completely worth it! 

We spent most of the time exploring the national park areas- we did I think all the walks that could be done.  We also spent some down time at the hotel just relaxing and reading.  You can fly direct from Sydney to Uluru, which is what we did due to limited time.  The airport is what you would expect on a small island- one tiny landing strip and a very tiny terminal.  It is nice how quick you can get in and out of airports of this size though.  Then a 10 minute (if that) drive to the hotel and you are all set!

The first day we landed and were at the hotel by a little after noon. We went to pick up food supplies for the next few days (you know important stuff like peanut butter, nutella and bread).  After check in we drove over to Kata Tjuta (formerly called the Olgas). 

Quick little observation/commentary here.  So for those of you not in Australia and don't know a whole lot about the history here, there has been and in many ways still seems to be a lot of tension between Aboriginal people and other Australians.  This particular area is not Aboriginal land again.  However, this is all relatively recent when the land was "handed back" to them in 1985.  When white settlers first came they had renamed Uluru to Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta to the Olgas.  Many people still refer to them by these names and have still not transitioned to calling them by their traditional names.  There is part of your history lesson for the day!

Okay, so we went over to Kata Tjuta and did a short walk called the Walpa Gorge Walk.  My pictures don't really do any of this justice, so you will just have to take my word that the land here is special.  I have never seen any landscape that looked anything like this anywhere.  It really was amazing. 

The Gorge.

I added this more as a reminder to myself when I look back... but any time you stopped to take photos or just look around, you were attacked by flies.  Not the type that will bite you, but super aggressive ones that just will not leave you alone!  I  stopped for the hubby to take my picture and they swarmed. 

This photo was from the hotel the next day as we were heading out.  These are early days here as it does get hot.  Even though it is just spring time now, temperatures were over 100 each day.  They suggest being done with any bush walks by mid-day.  Some of the longer walks, like the Valley of the Winds that we were doing this day will even close at 11am when the temperatures are too high.

Here we are on our way!  This was the first lookout point on the Valley of the Winds and where it closes later in the morning on hot days.

Random bird.

 Here was the second lookout point of the walk.  This isn't a really challenging walk by any means, but there are a couple tricky parts where you are just walking up steep parts of rock.  This was at the top of one of those slightly tricky parts of the walk.  Worth the effort.

The hubby- ready for a day of hiking in the heat.

Oh.  Hi kangaroos.

Sunset at Uluru.  There were bushfires all around while we were there and it made the sky look really hazy.  

The second full day we spent at Uluru.  We started with the Mala Walk where if you go early in the morning, there is a free guided tour by one of the park rangers.  It was great to have a bit more of a discussion about the importance of the land and history (besides what we had read about at the cultural center).

One comment about pictures of Uluru... because it is a sacred site, there are many parts of the rock that you are not allowed to photograph.  None of these pictures are from those areas.

The hubby contemplating life.

Another soap box commentary by yours truly.  The picture above shows the climb up Uluru.  This has been open for years and due to many reasons remains open today.  It is incredibly disrespectful to the Aboriginal land owners for this climb to be done.  This land is considered sacred and it is just in bad taste to climb it.  We discussed it during the morning tour and because of pollution from people making the climb up the rock, all the watering holes in the area are now contaminated with ecoli and many of the animals that had lived here are now gone.  The government is planning on closing the walk I believe she said in 2015, but they are trying to get this expedited.  Part of this is by proving less than 20% of visitors to the park actually climb.  By not climbing, you are in fact helping to get this closed sooner.  Okay off the soap box now :)

Sunset at Uluru- better than yesterday.

Our last night we did stargazing, which was incredible.  It ended up being a private tour because they initially thought it would be too hazy from the smoke.  It was hard to see along the horizon, but otherwise beautiful clear sky.  I am not skilled enough to have good night pics with the camera yet :(  I'm working on it.

The following morning we woke super early to drive out and watch sunrise.  Really pretty spectacular with all the smoky haze.

 Yay!  Outback adventure accomplished.  This will be a busy week for me.  Prep for our late housewarming/halloween party (which means if I am not too rushed while baking, several recipes) and then my sister is visiting the following week! So much fun stuff going on I can hardly contain myself!  

Hope everyone has a great week and check back soon for some more updates on life and fun halloween recipes.

Jervis Bay weekend and other Sydney adventures

A bit behind as usual...

I have had this entry all set to post for a couple weeks and just did not get around to it!

Here is the quick recap on Jervis Bay... Monday was Labour Day here in Australia.  This meant road tripping it down to Jervis Bay with some friends for the long weekend.  It was a great time relaxing and enjoying some time outdoors with friends.  

The hubby and I had never been to the Jervis Bay area and we were very excited.  It is only a few hours south of Sydney, but is one of those places that just feels worlds away.  

Here is a speedy view of the weekend via pictures!

We left after everyone finished work on Friday night and wanted to get on the road.  So we stopped about half-way there to get some food and look what we found.  Thats right.  The Outback in Australia.  And yes to answer your questions, we got the blooming onion and they have free refills.  Awesome.

This is the beach next to Hyams Beach (can't remember the name) these supposedly have the whitest sand in the world.  We all debated how they can actually establish this fact and did not come to any real conclusions.  There is a high amount of quartz in the sand that makes it so white.  It was in fact a very white sand, but I couldn't tell the difference between that and other "white sand" beaches I have been to on islands and such.  Still very beautiful though.

Another beach picture while I was wandering around.

 We all did a nice long bush walk through the national park area on the first day.  These are a couple pictures I took along the way...

My obsession with all sorts of signs continues...

Oh, hey dolphins... no big deal just swimming along near the beach.

Another shot of the dolphins passing by...

Flower on the beach

 We got a bit Australia'd here... we drove over to see a lighthouse thinking we would see a nice old lighthouse perched on a cliff.  Nope we got ruins of a creepy lighthouse with some old stories of a cursed family who used to live there.  Yeah, scary.

Pre-kayaking in the bay.  I didn't take my camera with me.  But we did see some more dolphins while we were kayaking... until a site seeing boat scared them away from us. 

 Last stop before heading home was a place called Sanctuary Point.  It was more of a nature reserve type area than a beach.  I really liked it... kinda felt like I was in the White Mountains of NH or something.  Just very peaceful...

Sunset as the weekend came to an end...

A few other random things from this quick getaway to this past weekend we spent in Uluru (that's coming up in the next  post!)...

MasterChef Live- Took a cooking class on Ricotta Hotcakes and Pears.  Super Yummy.

  These are from Maroon 5... Not very good pictures of my trying to zoom from my iphone... alas.  This was my second time seeing them live and it was awesome.  I think the hubby is a fan now.

Here is our friendly neighborhood bat.  He has moved into the wires across the street.  I like him.  I think he scares the possums and loud birds away :)