Sunday, January 20, 2013

Our trip to Australia: Ayer's Rock

Max and I flew directly into Ayer's Rock on January 7 and arrived around 10am. We saw Uluru as we landed, very exciting. And it was hot! And while it is usually, they were experiencing a heat wave. Yikes!

Our room wasn't ready when we got to the hotel so we went to look around the Ayer's Rock Resort Center. The entire complex included 5 hotels, a campground, a few places to eat, a few shops, a grocery store and a post office. We had lunch at the deli. I tried out what seemed to be an Aussie favorite in terms of flavor combos: roasted pumpkin and feta. As a panini, it was good but weird. I think I could get used to it though.

I mailed postcards to my parents and sister in Canada - which they actually received on Friday, incredibly enough!

That night, we went to the Sounds of Silence dinner. Amazing experience! The food was good but better was being out in the Outback at sunset, didgeridoo player Dwain playing as we made our way to our dinner table, the lightning storm hitting Uluru in the distance and, most of all, seeing all the stars once the lights were all extinguished. We could see the Milky Way! We could see two "clouds" that were really nebulas. And with the help of a high power telescope, we could see Jupiter and four of its moons. And the stripes on Jupiter! Amazing!  It was because of this experience that we chose the piece of aboriginal art that we did - but more on that later.

January 8, we were up early for our sunrise 12 km base trek around Uluru. We started around 5:30am and finished around 10am. It was warm when we woke up but there was a breeze and it was pleasant. We drank water constantly, even as it warmed to hot. By 9am, it felt like it had to be noon, and I was started to get a headache from the heat. Our guide Alex from SEIT gave me some red frogs candy which really helped. The walk itself was not difficult in any way - the trail was entirely flat. It was just really hot! By the time we got back to the hotel, it was 47°C - that's 116.6°F. Still, what a great experience, and a huge accomplishment. We learned about the local aboriginal peoples and their stories about Uluru, we saw their cave drawings, and their sacred gathering places. We saw a beautiful sunrise! I would never have climbed Uluru to begin with - would you climb the outside of Vatican City? - but after learning everything I did from Alex, I definitely never would for sure. Unfortunately, some 100,000 people go to Uluru each year specifically to climb it that the local aboriginals feel like they would drive tourists away if they told them they couldn't climb. Which is sad.

Our last excursion was a sunset camel ride. Surprisingly, I enjoyed riding a camel more than horseback riding! They are such gentle, sweet animals. Very accepting of their place in the world and easy to train. Perhaps my favorite part of our time in Ayer's Rock!

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