Ayers Rock and beyond....
On Monday, we finally crossed over the border to the Northern territories! We decided to drive as near as we could to our most eagerly-awaited desitination: Ayers Rock(Uluru). The drive was mostly uneventful and full of outback scenery, until we hit Mount Conner, about 100KM from Uluru. This is the rock that many people mistake for Uluru and it was a very beautiful welcoming spot! There is no climb up this rock, unfortunately, but it made for quite a picture. We moved on to our resting destination for the night, Curtin Springs. This "town" is basically a roadhouse with free camping and a $1 charge for showers(honour system works here). Anyway, everything was good there and we even stayed on Tuesday night after our Uluru treks.
On Tuesday, we headed off to Uluru and Kata Tjutu (The Olgas)....we spent the morning doing the 5 Mile "Valley of the Winds" walk around the less-well known rock formation of Kata Tjutu - 30 odd large rocks that are large and spectacular. In the afternoon, we climbed to the summit of Ayers Rock (also named Uluru ever since it was returned to the Aboriginals). It was a seriously hard climb - probably one of the hardest we've ever done. Both Christy & I had a hard time on the way up( Well, mostly me). Anyway, it was a grueling almost-vertical climb for nearly an hour under the hot sun followed by several steep up and downs through the undulations of the rock's top. It was quite a hike. But totally worth it. The views were amazing and we took loads of photos, which we hope to be able to upload soon.
After the climb, we drove around the base of Ayers rock and then parked at the "Sunset area" viewing spot. There were tons of people there taking photos of the sunset as it hit the rock. It was great! Ayers rock glowed blood red in the sunset. We met a couple there that were taking a cross-country 4WD trek from Sydney and got some great travelling information on future exploits.
On Wed we headed from Curtin Springs to Alice Springs(Alice). On the way, we stopped in at a Camel farm for pics. In Alice we stopped at the Desert park which is a wildlife park located in the desert, specialising in their nocturnal desert creatures exhibits. It was very interesting.
On Thursday, we moved on to the West Macdonnell ranges, just west of Alice. What a stunning place! We visited Simpsons gap, a nice little watering hole in the desert and rock-climbed at Standley Chasm. We moved on to one of the oldest aboriginal towns in Australia, Hermannsburg and toured an old Lutheran mission, where we also purchased some unique aboriginal art. From Hermannsburg we moved to Ellery Creek Big Hole, a national park camping site and torusit attraction.
Ellery Creek turned out to be a great spot to stop for us. The waterhole there was very scenic, set in a gap between two mountains and very stunning in the sunset. We also happened to meet some very nice Aussie touring families there. They invited us around their fire, where we were joined by another group and we had a great time. Of Course, this time was spent consuming and exchanging different beers (We exchanged our Kiwi beer for their aussie beer)! They also shared their damper( traditional aussie bread) with us, which was very Yummy. They have invited us to call them when we get up to Darwin area, which we definitely will.
On Friday, we moved from Ellery to Ormiston. In between we vistied Serpentine gorge, which was another beautiful trek for us. We visited the Ochre pits, a site that the local aboriginees use to extract clay for ceremonial paints etc. We got our campsite at the very competitive Ormiston Gorge just after lunch and went on a walk over and through the gorge. Words can't explain how nice this place is and digital cameras cannot do it justice. All around us were photo-opportunities! We hiked the gorge riverbed for two hours and then had a nice quiet nite at a great campsite.
It's Saturday and we were on the road at 7:40 am. We are travelling to see a site called the Devil's marbles and on Sunday we hope to stay in Mataranka and take advantage of the nautral hot springs there. On Monday we should be in Katherine/Darwin region.
Hope all is well in the US and Eire.
We will be back in touch shortly!