If you go to Alice Springs to see Uluru, then be prepared for a long drive. We had originally intended to hire a car from Alice and tour Uluru and Kings Canyon, but all the car hire places set a 400k limit and charge about 60 cents per kilometer above that, so it would have turned out very expensive. As we are time (and cash) poor we decided to do a tour with a local company.
They call it the longest day trip in the world, you start at 05:50 in the morning and get back to your hotel at 01:15 the next morning having coverd around 1100 kilometers!
There was us, a small French family and 7 Romanians on the coach. The first part of the journey is pretty interesting. You get to see the red centre of Australia and our guide David was very entertaining as well as knowledgeable about the sights, the flora and fauna, and the local wildlife, though we soon grew tired of everything then being translated into Romanian over the microphone straight after he had spoken!
After 3 hours we came to a roadhouse stop for breakfast. This was in the middle of nowhere, but there were a few other buses there, and we had an excellent all you can eat cooked breakfast (I can eat a lot), I also managed to get a pretty decent cappucino (for a small extra donation).
Strangely, they also had emus there that you could feed, so we did!
The onwards through the countless kilometers which were now less interesting as for the most part, the landscape is pretty much the same. We went through cattle stations that took 30 minutes to drive through, these are massive, but considering you need 1 acre of land to feed 1 cow, its not surprising they were so big!
A couple of hours later we stopped for late morning tea and a view of Mount Connor, often called fooluru because of its similarity to the Uluru, sadly we didnt have time on the tour to see it close up, but it was definitely worth closer inspection.
More driving brought us to the first lookout sight for the Olgas, and amazing rock formation, that we would be seeing closer up later in the day. Now due to losing a huge number of photos and only being able to recover some, the only pictures I have of the Olgas are a couple of dodgy selfies. It was 38 degrees and the flies here were terrible so forgive how we look, but this was taken between swatting the flies!
What you may notice here (and something we noticed when we flew in to Alice) is that the red centre looks pretty green. They have had record rainfall, so green was sprouting out everywhere.
500k after we started we came to the town of Yalara, just by the rock itself. This is a small town set up for tourists, so it is a few hotels (of varying prices) a camp site and some shops that sell souveniers for inflated prices. We had our lunch here (just a chicken wrap brought on the bus), but really it wasn’t much of a stop. What is interesting about here is that you can fly straight in to Ayers Rock airport and stay right next to the rock, the airport itself is now busier that the airport at Alice Springs, you may want to consier that if you want to see Uluru but are time poor, but I’m glad we went to Alice (in hindsight) as it is old Australia and not like the many modern cities we have seen.
Anyway, it was then off to the Olgas, we went to a different lookout sight, with a stunning view, then into the valley of the winds itself for a short walk, which was stunningly beautiful and stunningly hot, we now know what a loaf of bread feels like once they shut the oven door!
Then on for a walk around Uluru, not the whole way, we didn’t have time and it was too hot, but a couple of excently guided highlights where we saw the waterhole, some amazing ancient paintings and some of the more interesting features of the rock itself. You couldn’t climb the rock the day we were there, they shut the walk as it was over 35 degrees, but the Aborigines dont want you to climb it at all as for them it is a sacred site. There are signs up everywhere asking you not to climb it, however if you want to, you can. Every year thousands of people do, and a few people have died doing it (the heat generally gets to them).
Below are a few of the pictures I still have, taken on the walks:
Then it was on to the main event, sunset at Uluru from the viewing point. You dont watch the sun set over Uluru, you watch Uluru as the sun sets behind you. But before that you have a bbq with some Aussie champagne, where we had some snags (sausages) burgers and kangaroo steaks which were excellent (look for them in the exotic meats aisle). It really was amazing what they kept on that coach.
And then the main event, we had an amazing day, but watching Uluru at sunset was something pretty special, as the sun goes down the colour changes, the shadows in the rock appear and this amazing place becomes even more spectacular.
Then it was a mad dash back to the bus for the long long drive home, which included some heavy braking for some cows on the road, a bird smashing into the windscreen and absolutely no sleep for me (sad face).
We got back to our hotel about 01:15, completely shatered, but we had to be up at 6:30 as we were flying to Adelaide the next morning, oh the joy of travelling!