We’ve taken a bit more time off to go to Uluru for a few days and met up with our friends Rob, Mary, Marcie, Bob and Junene and Ken who are travelling through the centre on a caravan and camping trip. We’ve stayed for a couple of days to join them as they passed through Uluru. It was a good opportunity to continue my 60th birthday celebrations with a stunning dinner together In the desert under the stars.
This is the longest set of birthday celebrations that I have ever had in my life. They began with Jill taking me out to a spectacular restaurant in Melbourne (Vue de Monde -one of the top two or three restaurants in Australia) and then continuing it through our recent European Trip. My 60th birthday was actually spent travelling from Rome to Athens, where we had a little celebration in the bar before dinner.
We didn’t have the best start on this trip to Uluru when our flight via Sydney had to return to the terminal with an hydraulic problem before takeoff. However, we were very efficiently transferred by Qantas to an alternative flight though Alice Springs. It was good to see Rob, May, Marcie and Bob at the airport at Yulara when they came to meet us.
On our first evening in the ‘Red Centre’, we drove out to the sunset viewpoint in the National Park to see the sunset over Uluru (Ayer’s Rock). The changing colours were quite spectacular and the clouds in the sky certainly added to the effect.
On our second day, we had drove out to Kata Tjutu (The Olgas) and walked through both Walpa Gorge and the Valley of the Winds, Uluru is certainly the most popular icon of the ‘Centre’ but in many ways Kata Tjuta is the more spectacular of the two monolithic outcrops of the area. Many people think that they are geologically connected, but they are made of very different types of rock. Uluru is composed of a metamorphosed sedimentary rock called Arkose, whilst Kata Tjuta with its 36 domes is made up of a conglomerate rock. The rounded, water worn rocks in the conglomerate are clearly visible as you walk through the rock formations. That night, we had a BBQ dinner around the camp fire with everyone in the campground that is part of the Yalara tourist resort.
On our second day, we were up at 6.00 am to go around to the eastern side of Uluru to see the sunrise. It wasn’t quite as spectacular as the sunset, but the gentle dawn with its pink & blue skies that eventually lightened to flood the rock with a golden orange colour was very scenic.
From there it was back to our hotel to shower, change and have breakfast. We spent the rest of the day walking around the base of Uluru (Ayer’s Rock). We started with a short guided walk with the local ranger and learned something about local aboriginal lore and culture. From there, Marcie, Bob, Junene and I walked around the base of the rock and met everyone else for lunch at a picnic site.
The highlight of our trip occurred last night when all eight of us went to the ‘Sounds of Silence Dinner’ under the stars in the desert. It began with drinks on the top of a large sand dune and we watched the sun set. We could see both Uluru and Kata Tjuta from our vantage point and it got noticeable cooler as thee sun went down. From there we moved down to a site which was set up with linen covered tables and we had a beautiful three course meal, listened to a didgeridoo player and had an astronomer tell us about the stars that we could see.
I was the recipient of some- very nice, but totally unnecessary presents and went back to the hotel by 9.00 pm for a final drink and feeling very grateful that we have such a great lot of friends.
This morning, Bob, Mary, Marcie and Bob, along with Junene and Ken continued their way on their outback camping trip while Jill and I are flying back to a much colder (and hopefully wetter) home in Melbourne.