Published: January 19th 2010January 14th 2010
Cheers! At Sunset
Just had the best three days in the Red Centre. The scenery is amazing and the trip was hard work, but so enjoyable!
My friend Andrew finally flew in from Hong Kong after a two day delay (due to the snow at home in London, couldn't be further from the weather here!) Me and Siobhan packed up our apartment we departed Melbourne for Alice Springs, a small town in the middle of Australia. The aboriginal locals sit out and about everywhere in any shady area. There's a stark contrast between the aboriginals and the tourists. I think homelessness must be a big problem and the community as a whole probably has bigger problems, but the people hanging around everywhere with dirty clothes and smelling of body odour did make me feel a little uneasy. I wouldn't really want to stay in Alice Springs for any period of time to be honest, but it was interesting to see all the same.
The next morning we were up at 5am to depart at 6 on our trip to the red centre. The drive took most of the the day with a few stops on the way. Me and Andrew went Camel
Lost to an OAP, we had the hump!
racing which was a good laugh, but resulted in painful knackers afterwards!
We spent our afternoon walking around the beautiful Ayers Rock. It took just over two hours and I must admit, we really felt like we'd seen it afterwards! The whole area is sacred to the Aboriginals which caused problems for us. We'd heard various people telling us how much the locals get mad at tourists for damaging the land. Apparently this included peeing on the rock itself. I didn't think twice when someone told me about this, but when you're walking for two hours under the instruction to drink a litre of water an hour, not peeing in the area becomes one hell of a challenge! We wondered if the rule extended to the whole area around Ayers Rock and for fear of bad karma and a lack of toilets were so grateful to get to the end of the base walk where the toilets were!
We ate well with three good meals a day. Lots of simple food like a cross between spag bol/chilli and curry with bbq lunches at cattle stations on route. We ate our dinner on the first night with a glass
Sleeping under the stars (and mosquitos)
of wine (well, plastic cup) watching the sunset at Ayers Rock.
That night we slept under the stars, which was absolutely beautiful. Not sure they really prepare you for it in the brochures though. A swag is literally a piece of foam on the bottom with a canvas top. Plus it was still in the mid-thirties by the time we went to bed so I for one didn't even get in my swag, I just lied on top watching the stars. Not sure how many cockroaches or other insects crawled over me in the night but there were definitely creepy crawlies around as when we'd lit the fire, most of them followed the light and incinerated themselves! Not that I was complaining!
The next day was my Birthday. We were up at 4am to drive back to Ayers Rock to see the sunrise, which I personally preferred to the sunset, although as you'll see from the photos, we're starting to look more dishevelled as the trip goes on. We didn't have a shower the whole trip, although there were a few impromptu stops at rivers, watering holes and a swimming pool one night, so there were chances to
The Red Centre
Red dirt covered most of our clothes by the end.
get a little bit cleaner. The bus certainly got filthier as the trip went on as we all trudged more and more red earth in after each hike. My birthday evening was spent with lots of food and wine at a nice campsite with a pool, before climbing back into our swags for another night under the stars. The booze made me forget about bug spray and I woke up covered in mozzie bites which are still itching three days later! Oh well!
Our other hikes were to the Olgas, which was lots of red hills, with one spectactular view through a valley out to the desert. Our final hike on the last day was Kings' Canyon. We were up at 4am again and at the summit by 7:30am, which I think is a personal best in terms of early achievement in the day!
We'd started the first day wondering how we were going to make it to the last as we were roughing it a lot more than we thought we were going to. By the last we could have carried on, but it was nice to get back to the hostel with the rest of the
and (un)winding road
group for our goodbye get together. We toasted our trip sat out by the pool watching the outdoor makeshift cinema where they were screening 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' which had been partially filmed in the areas we'd hiked. It's a brilliant film and was a great way to end an amazing tour!
There are more photos below