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.
But 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!!!
Can you see the notice on the wall? Look closer at what it says!!!
This 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.
We stop to take photos at a quiet lookout spot, and Jake tells us some of the history of the Aborigines in the area.
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.
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.
We 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.
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.Even sharing this special moment in a group did not detract from the beauty of the surroundings.As 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.As the moon disappeared behind a band of cloud we boarded our bus to head back to camp.
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)