The big road trip – Uluru

Uluru and Kata Tjuta

We made it to the centre of Australia in one piece. Thankfully. Our trip from Alice to Uluru was uneventful, with a stop at Erldunda for ice cream and then overnight at Curtin Springs. This is a good stop, free and really it epitomises Australian camping. Red dust, wide open space, a campfire and a smelly toilet. There were a few folk there, some who had left their rigs there while they went to Uluru, too cheap to pay for camping or silly enough to think that one day is enough.

Now, I’ve been here before but I’ll admit that my heart skipped a beat when I laid eyes on it this time! Even from your first sighting, many kilometres away, it’s amazing. Up close … Something else entirely! The sheer size and majesty of it makes the traveling to get here worth every moment. And it should be a mammoth journey. The rock demands that you work to see it. And all my fellow campers and caravaners have done it tough too. Stories of blocked air filters, electrical faults involving fuel lines, long journeys on corrugated highways and hours of unrelenting driving in order to manage the trip in limited time frames. But we all made it and our reward makes it worth the effort.

We’re here for 4 nights (pay 3, stay 4) and spent our first afternoon getting settled and looking at the Rock from a distance. We also did the information centre at Yulara and booked Super Gran onto a helicopter flight for Monday morning. The kids and I are going to ride around the base on bikes. According to the information, Uluru is 5 times the height of the highest sail on the Sydney Opera House and 48m taller than the Eiffel Tower. When I was in Paris I bought a ticket to the top of the tower but chickened out at the first landing (about a third of the way up). Uluru is high! It sits 348m above the surrounding plain and has a base of 10+kms. It’s been returned to the Anangu people for the last 30 years and jointly managed with the commonwealth government.

Yesterday we did the ranger guided Mala walk and learnt about some of the creation, hand back and contemporary management. The walk is very short and so easily manageable for Super Gran. The Twins were slightly bored but they were well behaved. Then we drove around it, looked at it from the sunset lookout, went to the cultural centre and then had an afternoon at home. Today we drove out to Kata Tjuta and did a very small walk just to appreciate the size of this formation. The Piper played his pipes (click here for a preview. Warning this video is addictive) and we (unsuccessfully) searched for a Thorny Devil. I want to see one in the wild, so hopefully later today or tomorrow. The Twins are in the pool now and the flies are giving us some rest. They have been the only bad thing about here but when the crowd numbers are thin, so are the flies. Stick to small groups!

Sunday evening through to Tuesday morning leaving time

The Pocket Rocker has made a friend! Our neighbours are a lovely family from NSW holidaying with Dad in their new camper. The youngest little girl is 10 and hit it off with The Pocket Rocket so that’s childcare taken care of. They have been swimming, playing cards and jenga, playing soccer and hanging out together. Holiday friendships are the best. The Pocket Rocket even swapped spots on the lawn to sit next to her new friend while we watched the Aboriginal dance group. In the evening we headed out to watch the rock as the sunset. It performed perfectly, changing colours as we watched. The rising moon added an amazing touch to the left and will be superb tomorrow night …

Monday morning we headed around the Rock on bikes. Now this is a fun thing to do except for the flies! As long as you’re moving they avoid you. But when you stop … They get up your nose, in your eyes and ears, sit on your arms and generally annoy the living shit out of you. A new form of human torture. I chose a pushie that is completely different to my superb road bike at home. This thing was apparently built for comfort with a seat twice the size of my bum, “chopper” handle bars, no gears and back pedal brakes. Of course I also had my handy baggy tied to one handle bar and the hiking pack with 3 litres of water tied to the other. As stable as a tinny in the perfect storm! And did I mention that the two kids were free to ride off into the distance as I pedalled to keep up? Meanwhile Super Gran was up in the hairypopter flying over the paupers on pushies. Her report – “I loved it. I wish I’d paid for the $800 one now!”.

With the morning torture complete we didn’t do a lot in the afternoon. The kids swam and played and we got the obligatory washing done before heading out to watch the rock do its thing at sunset again. As predicted a huge yellow moon rose about 20 minutes after sunset. Almost no one was expecting it but it’s glow and sheer size were a photographers delight. Where was my camera and phone? At home on the lock box, outside the camper, where I put them as I closed the window on the trailer. Just a $1000 worth of new stuff. Hope it’s there when I get home … No pictures of my own but if I close my eyes I can see that full moon rising.

Off for dinner we headed to one of the resort restaurants and ate our fill of a three course buffet. The Piper was delighted to eat 15 pieces of sushie. A new record I think! With full bellies we headed home for our last nights sleep in central Australia. Being here is as good the second time as it was the first and it’s a place I’ll come back to again without hesitation. It doesn’t get tiresome or hard to enjoy. Next time I do it I want to have the sunset dinner experience (adults only!) and toast the rock with some lovely champagne. See you next time Uluru.

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