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.

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