The Red Centre (or dust, flies, rocks and flies)

On day one we started out at 5:45 in the morning picking people all around Alice and even a few near Uluru. We started to drive there round there 6:45 and we wouldn't arrive near Uluru till 13:30, it's quite a big distance to cover.

The bus we had was pretty comfy and the 3-dayers were lucky ones this trip because it was a combi-bus for 2, 3 and 5 day trippers and we were going to do something on day 3 from the day 5 program. Normally, they drive back
to Alice over sealed roads (via Stuart highway) on the 3-day trip. But the 5-day trippers go to another camp and to get there they go across a huge stretch of gravel roads, which we now also got to experience! (more on that later)

Once we got to camp on day 1 we dropped our stuff, had lunch and went to Kata Tjuta the Olgas)where we did a walk of about 2 hours through the Valley of the Winds.. That was a great start to everything, if a bit steep at times. (worse was yet to come! ;))

After we were done there we went to Uluru to see the sunset.. And that was pretty good!! Seen a lot of colour changes in the rock with the changing different lighting conditions.. chocolate-brown, light red, bright red, dull brown and just rock once the sun set.

After that we went back to camp where the guide/host started to make dinner. There was a huge hotplate (I guess that's what it's called) at the camp site on which he
warmend loads of sausages, steaks and some veggie
foods for the vegetarian (and the rest of us) in the group. Dinner was outstanding and there was plenty to go around for everyone!! He said it when the tour started that the amount of food wasn't going to be a problem and he was right!!

After dinner and cleaning up we sat around the camp fire just talking and soon people started to turn into their tents for sleep.. I of course was one of the last ones, partially because of me and partially cuz I just had
to watch the evening sky.. Unfortunately the guide didn't know many constellations so all I got to see was the Scorpio one (easy one and my own star sign!) and
apparently the southern cross as well.. :\

The beds in the tents were fairly comfy but the slip-sheet for the sleeping bags was way too short, so that made sleeping a bit tricky. I kept waking up every hour or so, nd seeing as I turned in round 11-ish and we had to get by 5 again, not much sleep was had by me.. (2nd night in a
After a good brekky @ camp we went to Uluru to see the sunrise and do a walk. The sunrise (as the sun set) was cool, but not as much of a colour change as usually happens apparently (pretty hazy). After that we were dropped for a walk round the rock, you couldn't do the
whole circle and the sunrise so I had to make a choice, I picked the sunset and the half length walk. I 'had to make
do' with half of the walk.. It's a pretty impressive feeling walking next to that giant piece of rock I can tell ya.. Seen some great views and took loads and loads of pics. Having come back at the beginning, the guide was
doing an hour's guided walk along part of the rock, which was very cool because he told loads of stuff about it!

After the walk had ended we headed to the cultural centre which had all sorts of very cool (and bloody expensive!!) aboriginal art pieces, as well as an intro into Aboriginal culture which was pretty cool. Next to this was an art
shop, and in that were a few aboriginal women doing their
painting, sitting on the floor of the shop. That left me, and several other from the tour, with a funny taste in our
mouths.. The whole purpose of the centre to us seemed to bring the aboriginals more into the western society in Australia.. And the only place you see them with one the holiest places for Aboriginals was almost as animals in a
zoo or circus doing their tricks. All the people behind the register etc were all whites..
And yes, the shop also had cheap(ish) stuff but that was
pretty tacky for the most part.. It was either genuine art at hugely inflated prices or the cheap tacky touristy stuff and nothing in between.

After Uluru, back to camp, have lunch, clean up the tents and the kitchen, pack the bags and head of to the
next camp, at a cattle station.. When we got there the guide was going to cook dinner on the coals of the fire, chicken, veggies, damper and a pasta.. It all tasted pretty good!! After that, sitting round the campfire
again in a very stuffy and clouded evening.. So not seen many stars that night unfortunately :( I am in one of the darkest, least light poluted places on Mother Earth and it's cloudy... :s

Another early start on day 3 (0500 again) we had lunch, packed up and went to King's Canyon for a 3.5-hour walk along the rim of the canyon.. The first part was
incredibly steep and we did that in two stages, to give everyone time to catch their breath! And even though it was round 7 in the morning, we all got pretty hot. I went to my first water bottle in that climb alone almost! :)
Once we got to the top we were treated to some stunning
views and the walk around the rim was pretty steep at times, climbing over rocks, walking close to the edge of a cliff.. About 1.5 hours into the walk we got to the 'Garden of Eden' which was simply stunningly beautiful.. It's a place covered on almost all sides, which has loads of trees, other plants and a small river and lake in it. After talking loads of pics there we went back up to the top and made it to the other side of the canyon and had some of the best views of the entire trip there.. (Parts of Priscilla, Queen of the dessert were shot there!!!)

So, afer about 3.5 hours we got back to the car-park, all soaked in sweat and thirsty as heck (I had emptied 3 bottles). That was followed by a picnic lunch very
close by.. Then we made our way to the next camp-site (for the 5 dayers) where a bus was going to pick us up and take us to Alice..

As said before, this was a huge stretch of unpaved gravel road (about 200kms or about 125 miles for the metricly challenged), and boy was that fun!!!! As I said, we drove in a pretty big truck and the guide didn't exactly took it calmly.. When we approached the gravel road we were
doing about 110km/h and he slowed down just a tad, to around 90km/h or so!!! The bus was shaking all over the place and we hit quite a few big ramps in the road, where you'd be launched from your seat without the seatbelt!! :D

That whole piece was about 3.5 hours of rally driving in a truck (almost) and loads of fun!! Almost better then the entire camping trip.
It's funny, most people go to the Red Centre to see the Rock (Uluru) and many don't feel that that was the best part of the trip. For me the King's canyon was by far the best part, followed by Kata Tjunga and Uluru the last. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy Uluru, far from it.. It was very impressive and aweinspriring at times, but the walks were just that bit better then Uluru
The heat wasn't all that bad in this time of the year in the desert (it's very early spring mind you) but the flies were bad, at some points you really had to keep waving your arms around to make sure they weren't all over you. At one of the stops we made along the way, they were selling caps which said.. Wot flies? I found that to be pretty funny!
Anyway, it was a great, great trip and I have no regrets at all that I went there.. In retrospect, I should really have done the 5-day tour instead of the 3-day tour but who knows what the future will bring?!

I’m pretty sure I’ll be back in Australia.. I just love this place!

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