Our arrival in Ayres Rock coincided with their hottest month of the year. We stepped off the plane to temperatures hovering around 43 degrees - yes degrees!!! On the upside the heat means that most other people have the sense to avoid the place at this time of year so it is quite quiet. February, sadly, is also fly month; and we're not talking about a few irritating flies, we're talking about a plague of almost biblical proportions. They are that bad that almost everyone has taken to wearing fly nets to keep them at bay. Although it's expensive the Ayres Rock Resort is great. It has a supermarket, shops, restaurants, bars and about five different hotels ranging from the swanky 'Sails in the Desert' to the functional and aptly named 'Outback Pioneer'. Needless to say we're staying at the Outback Pioneer. We are only about 12 miles from Ayres Rock and about 20 miles from The Olgas. There is a sunset viewing point where you can see both Ayres Rock and The Olgas at the top of a sand dune about 20 feet from our room. The fact that we are hundreds of miles from anywhere and in the middle of the outback inevitably means that prices have been hiked - it's $12 an hour for the internet. Still, it is pretty amazing to be staying so close to the Rock. It's incredible. You really have to see it to appreciate how enormous it is. We took the bus out to watch the sunrise and then did the 3 hour walk around the base of the Rock. The colours were wonderful. The sky here is the deepest shade of blue and it looks incredible against the orange of the Rock and the red sand. Less impressive was the fact that by the time were about half way around the Rock we were covered in hundreds of flies. The only good thing is that they disappear after dark so you can eat your dinner in peace. They have live music at our hotel every night and at the moment it is a guy who does really good covers of bands like Snow Patrol, Coldplay and the Chilli Peppers, interspersed with the occasional interlude on the didgeridoo (just incase you should forget which country you're in). The dorm experience also continues to delight. Our initial enthusiasm at having been upgraded from a 20 bed dorm to a 4 bed dorm was quickly dampened by one of our room mates: a German girl who shouts "sorry" in her sleep - loudly. Our only other disappointment is that despite the outback setting we have yet to see a kangaroo or a wombat - well, with the exception of the stuffed ones in the Visitors Centre.
Next stop Cairns…