Mount Connor

Mount Connor

One of the places on our Australian holiday list was Uluru, and we decided to this year. Being in the middle of the country it gets very hot, so we planned to go around September, once winter was ending so it wasn’t too hot in the day or too cold at night.

We only wanted to take a couple of days off work, so spent a while debating whether to do the trip ourselves, or join in with an organised tour. In the end the big distances involved in the drive, the fact hire car companies don’t insure you to drive at night in case you hit a camel and the cost actually being cheaper for the tour meant we decided to go with the tour. We booked through the YHA, although the company was actually Rock Tours.

The tour was pretty action packed, with a lot crammed in, so this will be a two parter.

Day 1 – Alice Springs

We flew out to Alice Springs on Saturday morning, which is about a three hour plane ride. Time passed quickly with X men on, and we enjoyed seeing a lot of not very much out the window.

Once we landed it was pretty much lunchtime, so we checked into the YHA and headed out for some lunch and an ice cream. We stocked up on some snacks for the trip which was definitely a good move. There was a 24 hour disco as part of a festival week which was pretty comical to look in on.

There is some stuff to do in Alice Springs (but not a weeks worth probably). We didn’t have a lot of time though, so just went on a short walk up Anzac Hill to watch sunset. Alice is bounded by the MacDonald range if mountains, but apart from that it’s not especially pretty, and the sun went down mainly over big industrial units and car parks! We had some nachos for dinner which ended up bring free because the messed up our order, and headed to bed nice and early ready for the tour the next day.

Anzac Hill Memorial

Anzac Hill Memorial, Alice Springs

Day 2 – Kings Canyon and bush camping

We joined the tour very early at 5.25am, and turned out to be the first people on the bus. We spent about an hour driving around Alice picking people up, including going to two places twice because the people failed to get up. Grumble.

After a quick coffee stop Kellie got some good 90s tunes going on the stereo and had us drawing our names and pictures on the bus windows (in special pens) so be could work out who everyone was a bit easier. There were 16 of us in all.

All in it took about 6 hours to get to Kings Canyon. We went on the 3 hour rim walk around the canyon, which was very cool with lots of big red layered rocks. It was about 34 degrees, but a fairly dry heat. We stopped a lot and drank a lot of water (having all taken the 3 litres each recommended by the safety signs). Kellie explained a lot of things to us about the area which was good, including about the rare Pygmy koalas only found in Central Australia. I was sceptical about this, but then we saw some real ones in a tree….Some of the people in the tour believed they were real ones a bit longer than they should have done!

Pygmy Koala

Pygmy Koala

After the canyon walk we drove a couple more hours, stopping to collect some fire wood for the evenings fire. We also caught sunset over Mount Conner, which at first we spot bought might have been Uluru. It looked pretty cool in its own right and would have been interesting to see closer up.

We got the camp pretty late, built a big fire and cooked chilli and damper bread on it which was tasty. Because there was literally nothing around the stars were amazing. I tried some star photos, but need more practice on those. That evening we did bush camping, sleeping out in swags around the big fire. The swag is basically a big thick army style bag with a foam mat inside it. You sleep inside your sleeping bag inside the swag. We got taught about making lines around them and putting salt down to stop snakes and spiders!

It was very cool opening your eyes and seeing so many stars out above you. That said, I didn’t sleep very well because 1) I was scared of snakes and spiders and 2) I was actually really really hot with the combined heat of my winter down sleeping bag, the swag and the fire. I tried to solve this by sticking my arms and legs out to cool off, but that just made problem 1 worse! Cool as it was, and although I did survive the night, I’m enough of a spiderphobe to want to sleep in a tent in future!

Stay tuned for more about Uluru and Kata Tjuta in the next post.

Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon

 

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