Can't believe I'm down to my last 4 days in Oz and it's been great! Had the penultimate epic bus journey from Cairns the other night. Spent about 33 hours on the bus, hopping off and changing onto another bus at 3AM (Was VERY cranky about that) but made it safely to Alice Springs at 9:30 in the morning.
I'd booked a 3 day camping tour to Uluru which was leaving at stoopid o'clock the next morning so had a really chilled day reading and attempting to sunbathe (But it was TOO hot!) so I had a nap instead!
I've just returned from the Rock Tour and I can safely say I am OVER camping, especially in a country where the bugs are EVIL and un-deterred by deet! The trip itself was awesome though, we were picked up at 6AM on the first day and headed to Kings Canyon. The aim was to walk for 6 and half km FOR FUN. Yeah, fun. The first part of the walk was called "Heart Attack Hill" which did nothing for my confidence but we all made it safely around without collapsing! The guides really pushed the need to drink plenty of water, apparantly in the hotter months when it's 45 + people have died on the walks we did through dehydration. Luckily for us it was "only" 37 which is apparantly a cool day for a walk (!???) needless to say we were all sweating and sore by the end of the first day (None of us were hikers thankfully!). The first night was a "Bush Camp" which meant we stopped in the middle of nowhere,set up a camp fire, got in our swags and drank beer! It was lovely but we all passed out within minutes! We were wrecked from all the walking and the early start.
We were up the next morning at ten to five (Even Stoopider o'clock) to head towards Kata Tjuta which is a series of sedimentary domes which have significance to the Aboriginal people of that area. It's where "Secret Men's Business" was taught to the uninitiated boys and carried out. Noone knows specifically what they learnt but most assume hunting and how to be a good husband. It's now a national park and guess what? We had ANOTHER walk. This time it was 7.4 km but easier as there weren't as many steep hills to climb. For us Europeans though it was just too hot. It reached about 38 this day and we we scorched by the time we got back to the bus! The final stop of the day was the main event, Ayers Rock (Uluru). We took a short walk (No hills this time!) around the base of it and looked in at some cave art (Where the men were teaching the boys about hunting) and passed the ceremonial place for "Secret Women's Business" which noone but the Aboriginal initiated women know about. However, we do know that babies were born in this particular area in "Mala Pouch" which was a cave which represented a type of wallaby, the totem animal of this group of people. I definitely learnt loads about the Aboriginal people during this trip. Our guide was seriously knowledgeable and told us LOADS of Creation time stories which are passed down through the generations. We all sat and listened like perfect schoolchildren whilst he told us everything he knew!!
That evening we were aiming to see the sunset over Uluru but unfortunately it poured with rain. We didn't see a sunset but we were part of the 5 % of people every year (So very special!) who see waterfalls off Uluru and rainbows above it. We had dinner (In the rain) and drank some beer (In the rain) before heading back to our campsite (Where it was still raining) for a well earned shower and a few more beers. Our guide set up a tarp to stop us getting wet in the night (There wasn't much shelter here!) and we had another early night! Luckily the tarp was set up as the heavens opened just after midnight and we had a massive thunderstorm! (The electrical storms here are WICKED. Fork lightening for ages and loads of noise) However, this did not stop the evil s***ty mozzies who literally ate me alive. I am now COVERED in lumps and bumps which are itchy enough to send me a bit cracked!
Anyway, that moan over we were up again (At the stoopidest of stoopid o'clocks) at 4:15 to apparantly watch the sunrise over Uluru, but, again, it was raining so we missed it and came back to Alice Springs! I'm here now for a night and heading to Darwin tomorrow on my final epic bus journey thorugh Australia! About 21 hours.
The tour was fabulous but I think I've done enough camping for the time being! I can't get over the anmount of rain we've had here in Oz since I've arrived, it's desperately needed as everywhere is so dry and in drought but I can't say it hasn't been a bit of a pain in the arse!
Anyway, that's all from me for now, will try and get some pics up tomorrow but now I must do some washing, everything I own is covered in red dust from Uluru, sweat and rain! Noice!
Hope you are all well