The journey from New Zealand to Sydney was a standard sort of flight where I mostly read my book. At Sydney airport, I had to go through immigration, giving me an extra stamp, collect my backpack and find my way to the domestic airport. As I was limited by time, I caught the T bus, costing $6 to the other airport whereas if I got the normal bus, it would have been a lot cheaper.
Again, I checked in, walked through security smoothly and found a seat to perch on as I needed to make a phone call to the tax people. Even though it was 9.30am Sydney time, my body felt like it was lunch time so I purchased a Mad Mex burrito before boarding the plane.
After being in the air for about 3 hours, we landing safely in the middle of the desert in central Australia in Ayers Rock. I disembarked the airplane by walking down the portable stairs and entering the tiny airport. Once I had collected my bag, I stood out front in the heat, waiting for my tour bus to arrive. The bus was meant to pick me up at 1pm, Ayers Rock time, but was slightly late. However, my body was still accustomed to New Zealand time, which was 4.30pm. It was going to be a super long day!
A bus pulled over, where a tour guide started reeling off names including mine. I hopped on the bus and located a seat, sitting next to a French girl. After a short drive, we stopped off at the Aboriginal Cultural Centre to find out about some of the history and stories. It wasn’t a big place and the information wasn’t new to me as I had read about the culture in a variety of museums in Australia.
When we were already, the bus dropped us off on the edge of Uluru, which is basically a huge red, flat-topped stone in the middle of the dessert. We dawdled around it, getting to know each other and acclimatising to the heat, making sure we were drinking enough. Most of the way round, I talked to a Danish girl, who was lovely and bubbly. We took regular break, where the bus met us and the guide showed us around certain areas, telling us about different artwork, trees, caves and waterholes. As we were walking the 10km around the huge rock, the weather kept changing. At one point, it was drizzling above us with the sun glaring down and a double rainbow curving into Uluru, as well as thundering and lighting over the other side of the rock. It was such an incredible moment, experiencing different season all at the same time. It was magical.
By the time, we finished our walk, it was becoming early evening with the sun lowering. Quickly, we got back on the bus with a quick stop to the bathroom, and then journeyed to the sunset viewing area. There were many tour buses there with tables of food and wine, serving their guests. We didn’t get any of this but we did see the sun slowly disappearing to the side of Uluru, reflecting a glimpse of sun, making the red colours of Uluru shimmer. The view was just bliss.
When there was no more sun, we drove to the campsite where we were going to stay for the night and prepared a stir-fry dinner for everyone. This is when I realised our group consisted of many Danish, Spanish and French, leaving myself, an American, a Canadian and a German conversing in English. I know you can make people speak English but it is rude when you are the only person who doesn’t understand what was being said.
Anyway, once we had eaten dinner, we were giving instruction about the rest of the evening events and the time of the wakeup call, which would 4.30am. Together, we washed our dishes and set up our swag, which is a stiff sleeping bag made of canvas and a head hole to gaze at the stars. By the time I was ready for bed and in my sway, I had been up already for about 22 hours so I was feeling exhausted. I didn’t even get a chance to look at the start before my eyelids dropped and my body was in a state of sleep unconsciousness.
The next day, being woken up by a gentle strum on a ukulele (which I have discovered is such a great wakeup call), not wanting to get out of the snuggly swag, I reluctantly left my comfort and got ready for the day ahead. Kindly, the Danish girl put on some toast for me to eat with some peanut butter, together with vegemite (I know it sounds weird but you have to try it!) and a cuppa tea. As soon as we were ready, we walked up a slight hill to a sunrise view point near to Uluru. It looked amazing even with some clouds in the sky.
Back at the campground, we placed our bags in the trailer and left around 6.30am to be taken to Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuata, where we would explore the 36 domes. Our driver guided us around the creek valley, observing beautiful sights and wilderness. The hike was about 8km, meandering through the domes, up and over trails, stopping halfway for a snack. The heat started raising, encouraging us to wet our thirst but luckily we had finished the walk by the time it got too hot.
Back at the bus, we were given some refreshing oranges as a snack before driving a different park for lunch. As a group, we cut up salad food then made ourselves huge cheese and salad sandwiches, which filled a hole. Next to the picnic benches was a pool, where a few of us jumped in the cool ourselves down. However, I didn’t stay in too long as it was freezing so I just laid on a sunbed to start the foundations of my tan.
I could have stayed here forever but we had to move on, where we travelled to Kings Creek station, stopping at a few services to buy an ice-cream plus Curtain Springs and a viewpoint of Mt Connor. Also, our driver told us that we needed to park up at the side of the road to get some firewood. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t what was about to come. He showed us how to break some dead tree and split them into smaller logs for the evening fire. It was actually really fun, pushing, pulling, wiggling and standing on the branches. Within a relatively quick time we had plenty of wood, which was tied on the trailer to be transported to our next campsite.
After snoozing on the bus, we finally reached at our destination, where the fire got started and some of us lounged by the pool. Our dinner was made on the fire by our driver, where some of us helped prepare the veggies and others sat around, chatting and drinking wine or beer. Dinner of kangaroo tail, shepherd’s pie and bread was served and enjoyed by all. Obviously, I had a veggie pie with mash and bread.
Once we had cleared up, we once again set up our swags under the stars and put on our pyjamas. It seemed crazy to be going to bed at 9.30/10pm but we had been told that we would be getting up at 4.00am: another early start. At least this time, I managed to gaze at the dark sky, admiring the sparkling stars with a few of them flinging across the sky.