Thursday, June 08, 2006

Sunset on Uluru

Uluru at sunset
Today we're headed into the Australian Outback. We woke up early (0630) and left the hotel, headed to the airport in a cab. We got there, checked in, and went to confirm our tour at Uluru. It was harder than necessary because it took some effort to figure out the phones. We tried to add our frequent flier number to our tickets at the gate, but the guy behind the counter gave a very unmotivated excuse as to why he couldn't do what every other gate attendant has been able to do for us. We boarded and before we pushed away from the gate, a hydraulic leak forced us to deplane--we were now about 45 minutes behind schedule and called the tour place to cancel our plans because the plane would be arriving too late.

We got $15 to use at the food court, but before we could buy anything, they announced that they would be re-boarding our flight. I got a Whopper combo from Hungry Jack's...better known elsewhere as Burger King. Kacey tried to get served at a cafe/bistro, but the two people "working" there were incompetent in meeting their customer's needs and showed no cooperation in helping us meet our flight. We did meet our flight, and the pilot said they added more fuel to fly faster and make up time. We could see Uluru (also known as Ayer's Rock or "the Pebble") from the air just before we landed.


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Our rental car was waiting for us, so we hopped in and drove to the campsite (Ayer’s Rock Resort Campground) to check in. A tent with two beds and a lamp, "fully furnished." As I was checking out the campsite, Men at Work's "Land Down Under" came on the radio...




We drove to Uluru and walked around the community center and part of the rock. We saw old paintings, watering holes, and the stories of the Rock. 
At another location, we saw over a dozen tourists climbing the scared path of the wisemen and not being very appreciative of its cultural significance. We didn't climb the Rock.

Those folks apparently can't read either.







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We'd planned ahead and brought along a bottle of Australian Shiraz to drink as we watched the sunset on the rock. The red rock glowed brighter each minute until the sun vanished, then it rapidly turned brown.








Dinner was a BBQ, I grilled emu sausage (good), croc skewers (good), kangaroo skewers (very good) and beef sausage (so-so). We then went out to the observatory where our enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide pointed out the many ways to find south using the Southern Cross and numerous constellations. We also looked though a telescope at the moon, Saturn, and a few stars. Fun fact: There are more stars visible from the Southern Hemisphere because it points into the middle of the galaxy.

It was much colder at night than in the day, probably dipped to 1-5 C. We had our thermals on under the comforters (we stacked both of them) but stacking them made it even worse because we had to push the two single beds together to get the comforters to cover both of us. No blankets provided. Very disjointed sleep, but very refreshing to wake up in the cool, crisp air and breathe in the freshness.

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