We got picked up around 6.20 am for our 3 day trip through the red centre. And who was that guide who came walking towards the hostel early in the morning when it was still dark and hard to make things out? Benchy!!!
I was so happy to have my awesome Nullarbor tour guide for this trip. He told me straight away that I was going all the way down to Adelaide with him (7 days in total) :).
We drove to the ATA office for check-in, then headed off towards Uluru which took us all morning. On the way we had several stops, one was at a camel farm. For $6 you could get a ride around the yard, something I didn’t miss to do.
We had lunch at our campsite in Yulara, on the way there we could see the big rock in the distance. After lunch we left it aside though and went straight for Kata Tutja (formerly known as the Olgas). We hiked through and up the Valley of the Winds and were rewarded with a great view.
Then we went to Uluru (formerly known as Ayer’s Rock) to see the sunset and on the way we stopped at another viewing platform for Kata Tutja. We had shapes+dips and champagne with the sunset at Uluru, very nice 🙂
When the sun had fully disappeared we went back to the camp, had dinner, played cards and went to bed. Several people swagged (i.e. slept in a swag under the stars). However, I was too lazy to get a swag and a sleeping bag out only to pack it all back up the next day for a cloudy sky with only a handful of stars, so I slept in a tent that night. Also, because it was a big amount of camps grouped close together it was not a nice place to swag.
Day 2. The next morning we had to get up at quarter to 5, so we could leave at quarter to 6, so we could see the sunrise at Uluru at quarter to 7. There were thousands of people, but apparently that was still a calm day. Anyway, the sunrise was beautiful and it had something magical to it seeing Uluru’s shadows wandering and the colour changing.
Next Benchy gave us a talk along a cultural walk at one side of Uluru, then we set off for the 10 km base hike around that big fat rusty rock. I would have preferred to climb onto it, but because it was quite windy the climb was closed and the penalty was huge. So I walked around it. I wanted to get it done so I walked quite fast and made it back to the bus first and 45 minutes earlier than the last person. Luckily it wasn’t too hot, only 30°C.
We had lunch back at the camp and then drove off to Kings Canyon which took us the rest of the day. At the Kings Canyon Resort we had a swim in the pool then watched the sunset before Benchy picked us up. He drove us to the campsite a bit more remote outside the resort where he had dinner already prepared.
That night we hooked up with another group, had a campfire and the other tourguide showed us how to cook a kangaroo tail in the fire which is a local delicacy.
This night I swagged, because we were out in the wild and the sky was clear and awesome 🙂
Day 3. This morning we had to get up as early as the last day. We had a hike around Kings Canyon that took us 3.5 hours. During the first half Benchy told us heaps about aboriginal culture, all the plants and more. The second half we all walked at our own pace. After Benchy I was the first to return to the bus. Same as with Uluru we were lucky with the temperature. That was one of the reasons why we had to get up so early.
Back at the resort we had 1.5 hours to hang out, go for a swim or do whatever we liked. At noon we set off on a long drive back to Erldunda.
At Erldunda we switched buses. The few of us who were going down to Adelaide with Benchy got in a brand new one, the rest got into another ATA bus back to Alice Springs. We had to wait for a third bus to bring us one more passenger (the only female for the next couple of days), so we played cards and had a few beers. Then we left. We were now no longer Adventure Tours Australia but Topdeck. Topdeck is another tour operator and they both are part of the same huge business which is mostly owned by the german company TUI. But that’s really complicated and not even Benchy fully understands it.
2 hours later we reached the border of Northern Territory and South Australia. Benchy being the mad man he is got us all some funny hats and things, we climbed the monument on the border and took some funny photos 🙂
Then we drove the last bit to Marla where we hooked up with another group again and spent the night. Topdeck recently changed things so we now get prepared meals wherever we go (except breakfast) and don’t have to cook meals ourselves anymore. This is very relaxing on the one hand, on the other hand you can’t influence what food you get. The dinner at Marla was rather appalling.
Because this would be my last night with a chance to swag and the sky was awesome again, I obviously made good use of that chance and swagged outside.
And that was my experience of the red centre. What I haven’t mentioned yet – it was not red. It was very very green. Why? Because it had rained kangaroos, emus and camels only 3 weeks ago and it was all completely flooded. Like with any desert after heavy rain, green plants came up in no time. You could hardly see the red soil at all. But see for yourselves:
Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher 2