The magic continues…

After a week long “art tour“. We are now  waiting outside the motel to be picked up by “Wayoutback tours” for the start of the 4 day adventure around the beauty of the red centre and visiting that magnificent monument of Aboriginal culture and Dreamtime, Uluru.

It was 5-30am, it was cold, and I was so pleased I had bought that beanie.

At 6am our transport arrives and we meet Jake our driver, tour leader, cook, organiser and teller of dream time stories and good all round Aussie bloke, good-looking in a lean, laid back way and with the most gorgeous blue “Paul Newman” eyes. We all fell in love with him…

We are the first aboard so, of course, choose the front seat. We stop at another couple of tourist accommodation places to pick up a Swiss couple and an Australian family of 4. The rest of the group will be flying in to Yulara airport near Uluru and will be picked up later, much later, as it is 500 kilometres from Alice to Ayers Rock resort camping ground, which will be our first nights stay. So we settle in for the 5 hour drive.

On the way we stop at a camel farm to get out and stretch our legs with the option of a ride around a paddock on a camel, we gave that a miss…

Another brief stop at Aboriginal run Ebenezer Roadhouse to look at mediocre Aboriginal art work and have a snack of toasted sandwich and cup of  coffee. Hmmm…

Another hour and Jake pulls into the side of the road. “right everyone out” he says, “we need to collect wood for tonight’s campfire”. This became a regular activity, but today there is only half the group on board. It is certainly easier with all 16 helping on the rest of the days.

There is plenty of dead wood lying around and we soon have enough to satisfy Jake.

At Yulara, Ayers Rock Airport we pick up the rest of the group. What a multinational lot. As well as  the young married Swiss couple and the family of 4 Australians, Mum, Dad and 10 and 12-year-old boys, we now have 2 young back packers from Singapore, 2 female friends in their 40’s from Germany and a family of 4, Mum, Dad and son and daughter in their 20’s from Belgium. We all get along very well together.

The wood is dropped off at the campsite and we get a first look at the permanent tents we will be sleeping in. The camping area is large and split into compounds so each group has an area away from each other group. With a cooking tent and a camp fire pit.

outback tour uluru pc 029_4000x3000But there is only one large toilet block and it was way over on the other side of the camping ground from where our tents were. I checked it out!!!

outback tour uluru pc 032_4000x3000Can you see the notice on the wall? Look closer at what it says!!!

outback tour uluru pc 030_4000x3000This notice was in a very prominent place at the entrance to the toilet/shower block…  But more on that later… Hmmm…

Now, at last we are almost within sight of Uluru/Ayers Rock. This iconic, ancient monolith was created over some 600 million years, and the Aborigines have been in the area for the last 10,000 years. It originally sat at the bottom of a sea, but today stands 348m above ground. One of the most startling Uluru facts however, is that some 2.5kms of its bulk is underground. (for more interesting facts go here)

Jack gets to sit in the front passenger seat, riding shot-gun with Jake, and he gets to take some great photos as we get closer and closer.

outback tour jc 046_4000x3000We stop to take photos at a quiet lookout spot, and Jake tells us some of the history of the Aborigines in the area. outback tour uluru pc 050_4000x3000

I take a video, the wind is blowing and the sound quality is not very good, but have a look at it.  youtube(https://youtu.be/dg0kbA673bg) Jake is a wealth of information. The company sends their guides to live with the Aborigines for a while to absorb their culture and one of the highlights of this tour was Jake and his depth of knowledge.outback tour uluru pc 057_4000x3000

Now the magic begins we head for the base of Uluru and meet our Aborigine guide, Valerie, who speaks in her own language that is translated by another Australian ranger. We are requested not to take photos of any Aborigine person.

outback tour uluru pc 065_4000x3000We gather around the Mutitjula Waterhole and Valerie tells us about the life style and culture of her people and the bush tucker that can be found in the area.outback tour uluru pc 062_4000x3000

Then we are taken to a court-yard, outside a shop with paintings and memorabilia for sale. Valerie squats on the ground and demonstrates and explains the meaning of Aborigine art. We are then invited to do a painting and tell our stories in the Aborigine style of painting. It was fun.

It is now late afternoon and time to head to the viewing area to watch the sunset at Uluru. The travel brochure  tells us we will ” experience the famous changing colours of Uluru at sunset, away from the crowds, complete with wine and nibbles” Well that wasn’t quite true as in reality it was an area for bus tour groups and not general public and each bus group had their own table area for wine and nibbles.outback tour uluru pc 101_3536x2567Even sharing this special moment in a group did not detract from the beauty of the surroundings.outback tour uluru pc 103_3762x2453As  the sun set the rock appeared to be lit from within and the colours slowly changed.

The buses started to pull out, but Jake said we will wait a bit longer and the very special magic was about to happen. Tonight was the night of the full moon and as we watched it slowly appeared from behind this amazing red beauty.outback tour uluru pc 139_3831x2243outback tour uluru pc 140_4000x3000As the moon disappeared behind a band of cloud we boarded our bus to head back to camp.outback tour uluru pc 144_3565x2420

I was not disappointed with the day. Maybe we could’ve hired a car and come on our own but I think the experience gained so much having Jake guide us and explain about this very unique culture.

Back at camp the fire was roaring and a delicious buffet meal was waiting cooked by a couple of helpers. We sat around the camp fire swapping stories and getting to know each other.

Now about those toilets…

I went for my final call there before settling down in the tent. It was dark and I had a head light on but that is a big toilet block and when I came out I came out of a different entrance. Oh dear, I was totally disoriented, I do not have a very good sense of direction at the best of times, but in the dark, in the bush and all the compounds looked the same, I was definitely thinking of those dingoes…

Well eventually I realized my mistake, so went back in and started again and thankfully found my way back to our camp.

The tents were very cosy. The camp stretchers were comfortable with a sleeping bag and extra blankets and my beanie on, I was warm as toast and had a very good nights sleep.

Jake warned us we will be up at 4am in the morning to catch the sunrise over Uluru… (to be continued)

31 comments

  1. I am supposed to be reading about horticulture, but I find your blog to be so fascinating! I have read about Uluru. I have never seen anything like it. (Of course, I do not get out much.) I saw the Painted Desert back in 2012, but I know it is nothing like Uluru. I have seen quite a bit of desert, even though I do not get out much, but I can not imagine traveling so far across nothing to find that! The deserts I know have hills and mountains off in the distance. Even the Mohave desert is surrounded by mountains, and some of the mountains are quite high. In studying Australia, I learned that the highest mountains are only twice as high as the mountains I live in, and that there are not very many of them there. My home is at about 1,200 feet, which is barely higher than the World Trade Center. That would not seem to be very high, except that I am only a few miles from Monterey Bay to the south, and the San Francisco Bay to the north. It is hard to imagine an entire continent as flat as Australia is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Tony. Yes this is a very old country geologically and only a few mountains further south. We have the dividing range separating the coast from the outback but that is more undulating hills, though our old van we travelled in for a few years around Oz did find some of those hills challenging

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  2. What a fun and exciting experience! Jake does look very handsome indeed and I’m sure he was a great guide. I love your story about the toilets and the dingoes! I could imagine getting myself into the same predicament. Are you going to be sketching Uluru? I want to visit this place! 🙂

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  3. The toilets sound challenging, give me an en suite any day! Was your visit how you expected it to be? I was worried that it would be too commercial and hyped-up and that I wouldn’t enjoy it at all, but I was very pleasantly surprised that despite the crowds as sunset and sunrise, it still retains an aura of magic. Although saying that, our walk in the Olgas / Kata Tjuṯa was my favourite experience away from all the tour buses.

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  4. I don’t know how I missed these first time around, Pauline. In close up the rock is not like I expected at all, with all those curves that you can get close to, but the photos with the moon are definitely magical. 🙂 🙂

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