Blue Skies and Big Rocks!

Our time in Alice Springs in the centre of Australia was short but sweet. After a great night in Bo Jangles we were able to have a bit of a lie in as we weren’t leaving until 10.30 the next day. We took that opportunity to catch up on all of our washing as our clothes had taken the brunt of camping over the last few days.

We were off to King’s Canyon that day but first made a quick stop at a Camel Farm a few kilometres down the road! Camel’s aren’t indigenous to Australia but were introduced many years ago when they were used to transport goods up and down the country. Once motorised transportation had been invented the camels were set free and there are now over a million in the wild. Half of the group opted to take a camel ride around the yard – as we had done this in Tunisia a few years ago we gave it a miss, but it was fun to watch the others try to get used to the Camel’s movement!

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After about an hour we set off again towards the King’s Canyon resort, about 10 minutes drive from the Canyon itself. That evening we watched the sunset over a rocky mountain range in the distance. The colours were beautiful and we tried many times to capture what we saw on camera!

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It was Oz-buser Nina’s birthday that day, so we had a lovely Indian Curry (prepared by Preya and the rest of the girls!), complete with balloons and a ‘cake’ comprising of swiss rolls and cookies!

The next morning we left the camping ground at 6.30am to make the short drive to King’s Canyon. Mark had a 3-4 hour guided walk planned for us where we would walk around the rim of the crater whilst he explained how it was formed and the wildlife that lives (or used to) live there. It is much cooler that time of the morning, which we were grateful for, and the landscape was absolutely stunning! The bright blue sky shone over the red sandstone rocks so brightly that everything around us looked like a painting!

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Our first challenge of the day was to climb a steep hill known as ‘heart attack hill’ due to the big incline and the extremely high temperatures that radiate around the canyon during the day. Luckily, that was the only difficult bit and once we’d trundled up there, we could walk on relatively flat ground around the rim.

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We really enjoyed the walk – even if it lasted 3 hours and 40 minutes – and we had some amazing views of the canyon and the national park below it. The sedimentary layers in the sheer faces of the canyon were pretty amazing and we were really glad that we got up early to go there!

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Mark pointed out various species of wildlife to us as we walked around, including tropical birds and lizards. However, we were really disappointed to have missed a deadly brown snake that some of the others spotted at the side of a walkway! Oh well, we still have plenty of time to spot some of those infamous Aussie animals!

Once we had completed our rim walk we headed back to the camp to have lunch before driving to perhaps the most famous landmark in Australia – Ayer’s Rock!

We were very excited about Ayer’s Rock and as we drove close to Uluru (as it is also known) we spotted a huge red rock in the distance. This actually turned out to be Connor’s Mountain, or ‘Fool-uru’ as the local tour guides call it, due to the amount of times it is mistaken for Ayer’s Rock. It was extremely impressive in itself however and is actually bigger than Ayer’s Rock! Across the road was a massive salt lake but unfortunately the camera couldn’t do it justice.

Our next stop was the Uluru cultural centre, followed by watching the sunset over the Rock itself. The colours were pretty amazing and we toasted the occasion with some bubbly and nibbles with the rest of the Oz-Busers.

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That night, we had a BBQ at the campsite – Richard helped cook all the meat and I was on salad duty. We had a mixture of Camel sausages, Kangaroo and Beef steak and it was absolutely gorgeous! Then it was straight to bed in preparation for a 4am start as we were heading back to view Ayers Rock at sunrise.

Whilst it was very difficult to get up so early, we are glad that we did, as once again the Rock looked amazing – particularly when it glowed bright orange as the sun popped up over the horizon.

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Once the sun was up, half the group opted to do the 10k base walk around the rock. It was a good thing we started walking so early as the sun soon grew more powerful and it got hotter and hotter as the morning went on. It was a fantastic walk – really peaceful, despite there being quite a few people doing the same walk. We completed it in just over and hour and a half – and that’s including stopping every now and then to take more photos!

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The plan after that was to go straight to The Olgas – a group of large dome-shaped rock formations around an hour’s drive from Ayer’s Rock – but we had a bit of an issue in that we lost a member of our group! He wandered off the bus whilst everyone’s backs were turned and we didn’t catch sight of him until an hour and a half later when he was spotted walking down the road. Having wasted so much time searching for him we didn’t have time to go to the Olgas so Mark decided to wait until later that afternoon.

Our back up plan was to go into the small town centre and do some shopping, check emails and have lunch etc before returning to the campsite on the free shuttle bus. When 4pm came around Richard headed off with some of the others to visit The Olgas while I stayed behind at the campsite sorting through the hundreds of photos we’d taken since we arrived in Australia.

The Olgas are the second biggest attraction in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and consist of 36 huge boulders. We first spotted them in the distance while we were viewing Ayer’s Rock at sunrise and according to Richard they are even more impressive up close.

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Our meal that evening was a Thai curry, courtesy of Oz-buser Margaret and her cooking ‘team’. Unfortunately the chilli paste was slightly more potent than expected and we all huffed, puffed and sniffed our way through the chicken and rice! The flavour was lovely though so hopefully she wasn’t too disappointed with how it turned out!!

We spent our last night of Outback camping in swags – just like we did in Daly Waters. This time however, we slept right outside our tent (just in case the howling Dingoes we could hear in the distance decided to wander over for a closer look). It was a beautiful night and it was difficult to take our eyes off the moon and stars so that we could go to sleep!

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