Day 1 of Leg 1: Alice Springs to Yulara

— 14 Aug 2012 —

Definitely a way too early start this morning. I was frantically collecting my shit around the dorm while listening to everyone gather in the lobby. Thinking to myself, Holy shit, I’m going to be late and miss the bus and add to my list of failures. Felt bad that I woke the other 7 girls with the light, but it had to be done because I can’t pack for shit in the dark! Done and dusted with check out, I realised it wasn’t my tour (fail) so got talking to the others who were still waiting around.

Our tour guide, Sara, finally rocked up (06h30 – could’ve had another half an hour sleep in!!!) and we were on the road, after checking in the office. Which, by the way, is where I got on the wrong bus after checking with Adventure Tours. I noted I was the token Asian on Sara’s bus, however the bus I boarded was full of Koreans and Japanese. Getting off, I looked completely lost until I heard Sara’s voice coming from around the corner. Goodness knows where I would have got to if I wasn’t so observant at the crack of dawn.

The Journey

Point A: Alice Springs
Point B: Yulara
Distance: 446km

So as the others slept, I watched the sun rise over the horizon. The black turn into purple, the yellow turn into orange, then purple turn into blue. It was going to be beautiful, hot and sunny day. As the day began to fine up, the scenery was all the same. Bush, grass and more bush.

It was a long drive, made all the while longer with everyone dozing and doing their own thing. There wasn’t much socialising but then again, we hadn’t really “broken the ice” yet. I guess Sara was letting us get some sleep ready for our hike in the afternoon. I went to accompany Sara at the front when I got a tad bored of looking at my own reflection in the window.

Now let me tell you about Sara. She is an interesting character. First, she reminds me of the Rastafarian I saw whilst traveling around the south coast of South Africa. Those who have dreadies and Jamaica coloured beanies and clothing. Albeit, Sara didn’t wear those colours with her Adventure Tours uniform. Very professional. She’s young and has travelled and lived A LOT in the past 4 years. Prior to getting the gig at Adventure Tours, she was living and working in tropical Cairns. She worked as a flying fox instructor, high up in the tree tops. Random. Before that, she was travelling and living cheaply around South-East Asia for A YEAR. And before that, she moved from Adelaide and roamed parts of China. On top of that, she plans to work with Adventure Tours down the west coast (visit me Sara!!!) and then go to India. Amazing. It doesn’t really compare to my “Oh, I’ve worked in Africa for 2 years and now I’m working out of the Perth office…”) at all.

So our first eventful stop was Erldunda, home of the Camel Farm. Home of the most trophies dedicated to camel racing. Exciting times readers!!! (No seriously, I got to put my new hiking boots to use!)

Another 2 or 3 toilet stops later… we finally arrived at our camp site, just 20 minutes from Uluru. We had a late lunch (14h00!!) of burritos and then off we went again. To Kata Tjuta for our afternoon hike. Nothing too hardcore which was great to hear.

Kata Tjuta (aka The Olgas) is made up of 36 massive boulders clustered together from way back when the continents were still forming from all of earth’s movements. It is also the second most famous attraction of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, after THE rock itself. Sara took us on the Valley of the Winds walk and it took a steady 2 – 2.5 hours, to cater for all levels of fitness within the group. We had to keep to a strict time frame because we were scheduled to head to the sunset viewing spot at Uluru, where there was going to be sparkling and crackers provided for the showing.

And this is how beautiful the boulders were. The sheer rawness of each piece (includes those which have “popped” out), the colours, the perfect setting, are truly stunning. I know I’m a nerd,  but I never imagined myself  thinking rocks can be THAT cool.

After conquering the hike in good time (Woah, my boobs look weird! Hmm, first time I’ve noticed), we headed to the Uluru sunset viewing point. Where there were, 20 OTHER COACHES. Seriously, it was packed as. But Sara knew where to go and we got a prime spot to admire the last of the sunlight shine on the rock. It was beautiful. Burgundy, to coral, to orange. And I’m not just talking about the rock.

Back at camp, we got the option to sleep in a swag, a heavy-duty outdoor sleeping bag, under the blanket of stars. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep outside because it was bloody cold (in hindsight, I wish I did as this was the best opportunity) but I did get to enjoy the stars and the bush TV once again.

I couldn’t help but think of my time in Botswana.


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