Birthday helicopter flying over Ayers Rock
Uluru, Northern Territory
Uluru (27.07.2012): Today is Adam's birthday. After a wee lie in we awoke for tea and present time complete with my decking of a birthday banner and balloons. Adam always takes his time with presents - even though he didn't have many. I made breakfast pancakes whilst Adam opened his last present: a helicopter flight over Ayers Rock. We have both never been in a helicopter before and it was an awesome and exhilarating experience. Adam rode in the front seat with the pilot. Surprising taking off and landing was much smoother than in a plane. Our first proper view of Ayers Rock was not a disappointment.
On landing back at the campground we drove 15km from the resort to the rock stopping off at the cultural centre to learn some more of the aboriginal significance of the area. Next stop, feeling guilty having read that the aboriginals regard the rock as sacred not wishing people to climb it, we headed for the climb. We couldn't leave not having conquered it. The climb had been closed all morning due to high winds but opened up within 15 minutes of us arriving.
Well the climb was exhausting. It went on and on. Some points seem almost vertical. Definitely one of the most challenging things I have done. It took me around 2 hours to reach the end of the climb, having twisted my knee part way through. Just when you think you are at the top, the climb goes on and you were in fact only halfway. Adam left me and can say that he was the first person to reach the top of Ayers Rock on 27.07.2012.
The view from the top was amazing; the Olgas could be seen in the distance along with the resort and the aboriginal camp. The climb down was scary biscuits. We both felt a sense of achievement in making it back. There are many health warnings about the climb. Over 35 people have died and many have been injured try to conquer it. I am not sure I would do it again in a hurry! - Once is enough!
It was about 17:00 by the time we finished the descended from the rock. We then drove to the sunset viewing points. The sun sets around 18:15 here at the moment - at which point the temperature plummets. We made off with some nice photos and headed for the Pioneer Outback BBQ. Adam's birthday meal treat although he had to cook it himself!
First of all we walked through a butcher counter where you select you meat (or in my case vegan burger). Adam could choose from crocodile, emu, kangaroo, etc.. He picked kangaroo kebabs. You then move on to a BBQ area where you cook your own food. It was kinda fun though Adam didn't know how to cook kangaroo and cooked for too long. We had access to a salad buffet with hot jacket potatoes and corns. Definitely our most filling meal yet, knocked back with a nice cold beer whilst listening to the ranch entertainment.
After we headed back to the campground for a game of cards and one of our beers. We only have three each. There are so many restrictions of getting alcohol here. You have to complete a form and buy it from certain places due to alcohol problems amongst the aboriginals. Petrol is also restricted for the same reason as many aboriginals have become addicted to petrol sniffing. Where available petrol will be locked up and you have to go ask for the key or someone will fill it up for you. Mostly in the outback you can only buy Opal fuel - which is odourless. It seems so strange that there has to be all these restrictions. I also didn't like the way they were shooing the aboriginals out of the Pioneer Outback BBQ. There is clear separation.
What a great day!