The flight from Perth to Alice Springs was magnificent. Looking down on all those miles of weird landscape and nothingness. And as we came into land I was surprised to see how green it was. Apparently they had a huge rainfall at the beginning of the year and everything just sprang into life. It doesn't usually look like that! But it was still so hot and the flies were back. I had booked onto a three day camping trip which staated the following day and was joined by an English couple, a Danish father and son, two Italian guys, a dutch girl, a Norwegian man and a really irritating bloke from Virginia who loved to talk about American politics at the top of his voice and loved his kangaroo leather hat.
First day was a visit to Ayers Rock which has to be seen to be believed really. It was closed to walkers because of the extreme heat and even walking a short part of the perimiter path was quite a struggle as there was so little shade. In the evening we went to a lookout to watch the sunset over it. It was a beautiful sunset but sadly no good for lighting up the rock - too much cloud. But never fear! We were provided with copious ammounts of champagne and nibbles - one tableload for every bus party and we were a very small party!! Yum. We camped for the night but it was very civilised as the tents were permanent and we had proper beds. Lighting was a joke as we were all given wind- up torches which were substandard and faded really quickly. If you lost something you had to wind up the torch and hunt for the article at the same time. Breakfast was interesting as most people were wearing odd socks and had their t-shirts on inside out. Our wake up call had been at 4.30 too which didn't help matters.
So we were up early to see the sunrise over the Olgas. As soon as the sun came it promptly disappeared behind a huge cloud so that was rubbish but at least we were ready to start hiking in the cool of the early morning. The Olgas look much like a bumpy version of Ayers Rock but in my opinion more beautiful. We had a lovely walk and again it was great to see so much greenery and wild flowers. There were also hundreds of caterpillars rolling around on the rocks so in weeks to come the place will be lively with butterflies. Makes a change from black flies anyway. Steve (our moody guide) didn't walk with us but while he waited for our return he managed to get some great photos of some young kangaroos which hopped right by him. This was also Australia Day and whilst the rest of the country was celebrating with street parties and fireworks here in Aboriginal territory it is ignored. They call it "The Invasion"! Naybe they are right. We visited an Aboriginal culture centre and they were selling a lot of artwork and wood carvings - at a price!
On day three we went to King's Canyon after another ridiculously early wake up call. I almost didn't climb this one because it was so hot and exposed but I am so glad I did. It was amazing. I knew nothing of this canyon at all until I got there but it really was worth seeing. Steve told us loads about the rocks and history of the place and so it was hardly a fast paced climb! around everycorner there was yet another dramatic view. I reckon they do this trip in that order deliberately as it just gets better and better! Down in one gorge there was a 'Garden of Eden' with a natural pool to swim in surrounded by palm trees. The only thing was there were about 50 other people down there too having a wallow. We sat and ate fruitcake. That afternoon I was absolutely horrified as the couple from Brighton ate 3 ice-creams each. The husband also had a vanilla milkshake!! He never even made it to dinner that night.
Back at Alice Springs and I went straight for a dip in the hotel pool. There I got chatting to a farming couple from W.A. on their annual holiday which they always spend in another part of Australia. Then we were joined by a mother and daughter from Altrincham. A bit posh they were. On my last morning I went over the road and had breakfast in the hospital cafe. i reckoned it would be cheaper than the hotel buffet. It seemed that all the staff were white and all the patients were Aboriginals. They hang around on the streets of Alice in groups getting drunk night and day. I think they invented binge culture.