The night before I left Alice Springs one of the teams from the solar power challenge stayed at my campground, but I didn’t think much of it. It’s some sort of car race with only solar powered cars driving across Australia. But as I drove out of Alice springs I realized that they had just left the city as well, and they weren’t fast. Each car also had a following of at least ten cars driving the same speed. I’m guessing this is what people who encounters Team Rynkeby on their journey from Scandinavia to Paris each summer feels. Since they were so slow and the outback is so empty it was easy to overtake them though. And they were a lot of fun to look at.
I arrived in Yulara which is a resort really, close to Ayers Rock. It’s the only place you can stay at close to the rock and it has five different hotels and a campground. Let’s just say I’m not impressed with the campground. There’s very little shade, the camp kitchen is a joke, the bathroom facilities are very dirty and worn down and the pool is filthy. I guess that’s what happens when you have no competition… It’s frustrating though, I only have a car. I need the rest of the place to be good because I can’t boil to death in my car each day. Oh well. Luckily you’re allowed to use the other resort facilities as well so I’ve been using the pool at the five star hotel here instead. It’s really good so at least that helps. I just wish they would make an effort with the camping as well.
The first night here I had booked the sunset dinner called Sounds of Silence. I got picked up in a bus along with a lot of other people and we were driven to a spot outside of the actual park but with views of Ayers Rock. It was so amazing seeing it up close for the first time. We were given champagne to sip as we listened to a man playing didgeridoo and watching the sunset. Magical. After that we were taken down a path to where we would be eating. I was seated next to a woman in her 70’s traveling by herself from Boston, and a man in his 80’s traveling by himself from Oregon. Needless to say, I was in heaven. I had such a great time talking to them about traveling, about my summer in the US and about their lives. We had some red wine and the staff kept refilling them all the time, so I think we all drank more than we expected. When it was our turn to get the food from the buffet (which included both kangaroo and crocodile, both delicious) the man stood up, clutched his hand to his chest and said “I’m not feeling so well.” I got terrified and took a hold of his arm while a man on the other side did the same and someone brought over a chair. Turned out to be a little too much wine and too little food luckily. Scary though! We were also treated to an aboriginal dance and a star expert came to talk about all the stars in the sky. Very fascinating. I was disappointed when the busses came to take us back to the resort.
The next day I was not feeling very fresh when I wake up, but a nice and cool breeze circulated in my van so I could stay in bed until 9:30. So nice! I went to the Sails in the Desert hotel pool and just hung out. It was a good and slow day. I called my mother on Skype and saw that she was wearing a scarf, I got pretty jealous. Please remind me of this in January when I’m cold and miserable in Sweden, that I longed for the cold. Because yes, I have booked my flight home. I will leave New Zealand on the 11th of January and arrive at the airport in Copenhagen on the 12th. I’m very excited, I miss my family.
This morning I woke up at 4 because the bus to pick me up for my sunrise tour arrived at 4:30. I opened the car door and was just amazed. The starry sky was incredible, the best I’ve ever seen. I could clearly see the milky way and just had to take some photos. Wow.
And when I got to the bus the driver sang Simon and Garfunkel’s Cecilia for me so that made me wake up a bit more. We got to the viewing area in the pitch black night still, but the sun quickly rose and painted Uluru a beautiful red. I cry when I’m sad, when I’m happy and when I’m amazed. So yes, I cried. It was just fabulous.
When the sun had come up I got back in the bus for the next part of the tour, the cultural experience. We got to the cultural house and was dropped off, I was surprised to realize that there was only three of us who had booked that specific tour. But it was great actually, it was two girls in my age called Laura and Andrea and we got along great. We were given breakfast, got to look at the cultural center and sign the “I did not climb Uluru” guest book. I have no photos though, because it’s considered a spiritual place and it’s not allowed to film or take photos in there. It’s also not allowed to take picture of some parts of Uluru because they’re the “women’s places” and the Anangu men could accidentally see pictures and that’s not allowed.
A bit later a man came to get us, it was time for the weapons show. He showed us the Anangu tools and weapons that they use, they are the indigenous people who owns the land Uluru is on. He was Anangu too and the presentation was very fascinating. He showed us how to make glue for example.
We were allowed to take pictures of the tools. On the left the men’s tools (spears and boomerangs for hunting) and on the right the women’s (baskets and things for gathering).
After the presentation it was time to get back on the bus and go to the base of Uluru. We got dropped of at the climb area, which luckily was closed today. If it’s windy or very hot they close it. I don’t understand why the park insists on keeping it open, it’s so rude and disrespectful. But I guess it’s all about the money… It was SO steep though, you can’t really see but it’s very steep. I wouldn’t have gone up even if it wasn’t sacred, I would have been terrified.
The four of us walked around the base while our guide told us stories by the Anangu people and the markings on Uluru. It was so interesting but we were all glad we brought our fly nets, the flies are insane in the outback. At all times there are 5-10 flies circling your head.
Andrea, me and Laura.
At 11 we were dropped off at the resort again, tired but happy. Turns out they’re both going to King’s Canyon tomorrow too so we’ll meet then again. I was so glad to hear that, they were really nice girls.
This afternoon I’ve napped by the pool again listening to podcasts. When I was leaving that area and taking a shuttle bus back to the campground a lady sat next to me. She turned to me and said “I think I made a mistake coming here.” as she swatted away the flies. She was a lady from Tennessee and she had just arrived to the area. I told her to buy a fly net and then we talked for almost 20 minutes. She has been solo traveling for 40 years, she was super cool. I hope she does enjoy the area after all, I know it took me some time to get used to both the heat and the bugs.
The bus arrives at 4 in the morning tomorrow too to pick me up, so I’m bringing a pillow and my noise canceling headphones on the 3 hour bus ride to the canyon. I think it will be great though, I’ve been told King’s Canyon is beautiful. I’m excited to both go there and to go hiking again.
You’ll hear from me soon again!