Back on the road
Uluru - Kata Tjuta Travel Blog› entry 13 of 34 › view all entries
Sunday, August 16
Time to say bye-bye to Sydney and head for the iconic center of the Australian universe -- Uluru (Ayers Rock). It really is just about smack dab in the geographic center of Australia, pictures of it are the most common for Australia with the possible exceptions of kangaroos, and I think it means more that I don't fully understand.
We had a morning flight so we bustled ourselves into a cab and got to the airport.....to find an enormous line to check luggage. Once again, Platinum Matters and Jeff got us through the quickie line, even though we weren't flying biz class.
The airport is not terribly large (or at least the domestic terminal isn't) and we wandered around a bit before settling down to wait at our gate.
The flight was uneventful and we strode off the plane onto the tarmac at Uluru (yes, you climb down a set of steps onto the tarmac. It's really a small airport). Got our shuttle to the resort.
At Uluru, all housing, shopping, and food is under the auspices of the Voyager company. They have 5 levels of accommodations, from camping to luxury. We were one-step-up from camping in their version of a hostel. Two bunk beds in a room with a private bath. Works for us!
Jeff and Kitty headed off to do laundry and beer (the deal is that since I did most of the planning, they have to do my laundry this trip!).
Our housing is 6-to-a-block. That is, the grounds have a plethora of block buildings with 6 rooms in each. Some rooms have double beds, some have bunkbeds. But they're all pretty basic with red dirt tracks between them.
The resort is set around an oval. The lower-end accommodations -- our hostel and the campground -- are on one long side. The higher end options plus shopping are on the other long side of the oval. On the left and right of the oval are camel tours and gas/police/ems. The oval in the middle is just short sand dunes, scrub grass, and some trails to get from one side to the other, a walk of 5-10 minutes.
Uluru is as much "arid" as "desert". The ground is covered with scrub brush and tiny flowers and spikey grasses, plus the occasional small (and even sometimes tall) tree.
I walked around the outside of the oval and almost walked myself out into the desert! One red dirt trail looks kinda like another to me. Consequently, I got to see the back of a lot of buildings. :) The shopping area, when I found it, is pretty practical. A grocer, car rental, camera shop, tour bookings, a few cafes, some t-shirt and clothing stores, souvenir stores, etc. Nothing garish really.
The information center has a nice display on Uluru and the Olgas, especially their geography. They are a type of rock...well, I can't remember all the details (sorry Justin!) but in short, they're kinda cool.
I finally wandered back to our hotel and my newly clean laundry. :)
The bar and sandwich/pizza counter and BBQ in our housing area are all in a covered pavilion, open to the sides. There's also a pool (which is too cold for even me to get into), a laundry, a lounge, a sit down restaurant (waaaaaaay too expensive) and an internet room. We decide to eat at the BBQ that night, which is really a cook-your-own-meat place. They sell you the cut of meat and include a "salad bar" (containing very few things that look like 'salad' material to me). Then you take it over to one of the 6 honkin' big grills and grill it all up to your satisfaction.
I enjoy these kind of things, if for no other reason than I know I'll get my meat cooked the way I like it! The meat options included beef and sausages and chicken but it also included kangaroo and crocodile and (theoretically) emu, though they never did actually have emu.
We all ate at the communal picnic tables in the pavilion while some guy did a decent job on cover tunes on the stage. All in all, a very easy-going kind of environment. I think I enjoyed it more than I would have the more upscale lodgings.
At sunset, we walked up to one of the many viewing areas scattered around the complex. They all have a bench or two and great views of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock and the Olgas). Sunset is fun. With the right combo of clouds and clear sky, the rocks will change colors every couple of minutes, also changing the amount of detail you can see.
But after dinner we walked back up to the viewing area and that was even better.
A good introduction to the Red Centre.