Alice Springs, Uluru, & Kings Canyon, NT
Nov 20, 2006
|ALICE SPRINGS / ULURU / KINGS CANYON - Tuesday 14th November to Sunday 19th (Days 18-23)
Arrived in Alice Springs at around 09.30 after a very long and tiring overnight, 16 hour, bus journey from Katherine. Although it was around 37c, it was a relief to get away from the extremely humid conditions of Darwin to the dry heat of central Oz. Spent the rest of the day looking around Alice, a surprisingly modern, though small place (28,000 population), a third Aboriginal.
Wednesday 15th November (Day 19)
Up at 05.30 for the 4.5 hour trip out to the Ayers Rock Resort. Got first site of said rock, now renamed Uluru. In the afternoon we visited The Olgas, then on to view Uluru at sunset, along with 3000 other people! This is the second time I have seen the sunset here and I am convinced it's a case of the Emperor's New Clothes with regard to the changing colours! Enjoyed a glass of wine, and got some good photos.
Thursday 16th November (Day 20)
Up at 4.00 am!!!!!!!!! Yes you read that correctly, 4.00 am, to get a view of Uluru at sunrise. It was freezing cold at that time of the morning, so a warming cup of tea was gladly consumed. Then off to Kings Canyon, another 'short' bus journey (4 hours). Found we had been allocated an amazing spa room with a great view of the surrounding bush (see photo). Saw a 3 ft lizard just outside the room!
Friday 17th November (Day 21)
Woke up to find again Gill had been a victim of Ginger ants, this time she caught them in her toilet bag! (she is becoming paranoid that they are targeting her!). Gill decided that all this travelling had got to her so had a lie in while I went, yep you've guessed it, very early again (5 am) to do the 'rim walk' of Kings Canyon. The views were simply breathtaking (see photo). Fortunately there were only 5 of us with the guide rather than a whole tour bus. Then back to Alice, another 6 hour bus journey. These really are unbelievable distances between places out here.
This was really the end of the APT tour of the Red Centre, where we met mostly English couples in their 50's/60's doing the same tour, some also going to the cricket. Our overall view of Kata Tjuta (Olgas) and Uluru is that it is worth seeing but this really is on the main tourist trail. Just to give you an idea of the numbers visiting these sites apparently 400,000 a year visit Uluru and the Olgas(mostly Japanese from what I could tell!). Kings Canyon and the West Macdonnells were spectacular, and less crowded. Since I last visited in 1989 there has been a dramatic increase in numbers, helped by the new Ayers Rock Airport! I read that in 1987 20,000 people a year visited Kings Canyon, and that in 2004 there were 280,000! I suspect that these numbers will go up again when they complete a more direct road between Alice and Kings Canyon within the next two years.
Saturday 18th November (Day 22)
At last a lie in, well untill 08.30 anyway, for a half day tour of the West MacDonnell Ranges. At Simpson's Gap we saw a Kangaroo and some Rock Wallabies, then a walk to the superb Standley Chasm. With barely a breath we then set off for a guided tour of Alice visiting the fascinating Royal Flying Doctor Service; the School of the Air (some pupils are 1000km away from Alice!); and the Telegraph Station, the original location of 'Alice Spring'.
Sunday 19th November (Day 23)
Late afternoon had a 2 hour flight to Cairns, tropical North Queensland, to be greeted by rain! Not surprising being in the 'Wet' Tropics of Oz.