Mum and I embarked on a holiday to Australia last week! When I told people I was going to the outback, everyone was shocked, and not in the good way. I guess it is not your classic winter getaway for a few reasons:
- There is no beach
- It is in the middle of nowhere
- There are flies everywhere
We flew out on the sunday of Queen’s birthday weekend; WLG to SYD, then SYD to AYQ (Ayer’s Rock). We were staying here 5 of the 7 nights of our holiday. Ayer’s rock is not what I expected. I thought it would be like a barren desert, stuck in the past, with tumble weeds going by. As soon as we landed, my thoughts changed immediately. The airport was modern and there was already a big coach with comfy leather seats waiting to take all the holiday makers to their accommodation; which turned out to be 1 of the 4 options:
- Desert Gardens Hotel – Fancy (this is where we stayed)
- Emu Walk Apartments – Standard, but good if you want to cook your own food while on holiday
- Sails in the Dessert – Very Fancy
- Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge – Average, options of shared bathroom facilities available
All of the accomodation is owned and operated by the same company, and is known as Ayer’s Rock Resort. It turns out that Ayer’s Rock is a purpose built tourist hub. Ayer’s Rock resort consisted of the accommodation and a ‘town square’. The town square took a whole of 30 seconds to walk around. There was a cafe, a restaurant, an asian takeaway shop, an info centre, a supermarket, a post office and one or two souvenir shops in the square. There were not any real ‘locals’. The permanent residents were the staff employed by the resort; about 800 people. They lived in purpose built accommodation behind the Outback Pioneer.
Ayer’s rock is situated in the middle of the red desert, with nothing else around it. The only reason people travel here is to see the wonderous Uluru and Kuta Tjuta. This was the basis of our trip – typical tourists!
Each day we did a different tour; the tours were run by a company called AAT Kings. There are a few companies to choose from; but I would highly recommend these guys. They were all very entertaining and had good stories to share.
Our first tour consisted of checking out Kata Tjuta; it is not as well known as Uluru but it is perhaps, even more spectacular. It is 200 metres taller, and consists of 36 different domes. We walked through the valley of the winds; and stopped at two of the lookouts. Afterwards, we watched the sunset over Kata Tjuta, with nibbles and bubbly! My kind of holiday!
Look out number two
Sunrise over Uluru:
We got up bright and early to watch the sunrise over Uluru, and it was spectaular. They recommended you took a photo every minute around sunrise. This was so you could catch the colour change of Uluru that is not obvious to the naked eye.
Sunrise over Uluru
After marvelling at the rock from the viewing platform, we drove right up close to Uluru and then went for a 5 km walk around the base. During the walk, we learnt about the Aborigine culture and heard many stories about how certain parts of the rock were ‘formed’. These stories all contained magical animals, some who could change forms. Some sections of Uluru are considered ‘sacred sites’ and you are not allowed to photograph these areas.
We stopped at the same spot that Will and Kate visited while on their royal tour! That was exciting, as I am a royalist. There was so much to see and explore; pretty watering holes, aborigine paintings, wee caves etc. I was having a great time, however I was freezing my but off – quite ironic really since you would think it is constantly warm in the desert. It gets down to about 5 degrees at night, and up to about 20 to 25 degrees during the day.
It is frowned upon to climb Uluru these days, it is considered to be like climbing all over a church. However, about 26% of tourists still do climb the track on Uluru. It is said that when it gets down to 20% of tourists, they will shut it down completely.
The track that people can climb on Uluru
Uluru up close
Some aborigine paintings on the surface of Uluru
Walpa Gorge, Sunset over Uluru and a BBQ dinner:
On our third tour, we headed back to Kata Tjuta as we wanted to walk between the two biggest domes that were there. This is called Walpa Gorge. It was like life on Mars. We then drove to Uluru and watched the sun set; this time at a different platform, and again with bubbly and nibbles! Amazing. Mum skulled back about 3 wines in the space of 30 minutes. Lets just say she was really enjoying herself. After the sunset, we had a BBQ dinner in the desert with Uluru in the background. We had even more bubbly, and it was such a fun night! Many laughs were had amongst us tourists; most of whom were 50+.
Sunset over Uluru
Walking through Walpa Gorge
I was not expecting much from this because I had heard camels were smelly and slow. However, I really enjoyed myself! We went out to the camel farm, which is the biggest in Australia. The camels did not smell, and they were really well behaved! I got to ride on a ‘baby’ camel named Wally. He was a cutie. The ride lasted for 45 minutes and was really pleasant.
Me and Mum on Wally and Lazy Dazy
Mum and I then flew to Alice Springs for the last two nights of our holiday. Alice Springs was much bigger than Ayers Rock – it was an actual town. It kind of reminded me of Lower Hutt (my home town). There wasn’t much to do there. However, it did have a lot of history. They had the first telegraph station in Australia, The Royal Flying Doctor’s and the School of Air were both established here also. The MacDonnell Ranges (which stretch over 640km) are also situated just outside of town. We did a full day tour where we explored all of the above.
Overall, I had a great holiday. I loved Ayer’s Rock and I would definitely recommend going! However, I could take or leave Alice Springs. The ranges were beautiful, but the town centre itself was a bit dated.