I had been in Australia for the great amount of two weeks when I decided it was time to hit the geographical bullseye and seek out the big, redrock.
Having just shook off the jetlag, and not ready to brave my American driving skills on Aussie roads just yet, I decided to get on a tour. However, before I could get to my lovely crammed tour bus in Alice Springs, I spent 33 hours on four bumpy buses from Cairns to Alice. Thoroughly shaken but not stirred I wandered onto my tour bus. Within seconds I met a nice girl to share seats with, and we were off.
We stopped off at Kings Canyon first. The walk through was beyond words.
The colours, the fresh air and the amazing landscape is mind-meltingly beautiful. However, darkness came fast, and we rolled into our camp and rolled out our swags.
Crazy Aussies sleep outside without tents, so the swags are like extra sturdy canvas sleeping bags with built-in mattresses to put yourself and your sleeping bag into.
Camping out under a cloudless sky full of stars was a simply amazing experience for someone used to the bright orange lights of Chicago.
The next day we got up well before the crack of dawn and proceeded to Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and the Valley of the Winds. Another great walk, another magnificent night underneath the clear skies of central Australia.
Then, with two nights of camping under our belts we were ready for the high point. As the bus huffed and puffed towards one of the most sacred Aboriginal sites in all of Australia, we could finally see the contours of the rock.
We did the base walk, and discovered all the sacred spots which you are not allowed to take pictures of, but which are by far the most amazing. It’s an Australia-trip must. However, nightfall came quickly once again. Part of our tour was seeing the amazing sunset over Uluru.
The deserts miss the rain
However for us this was obscured by a heavy collection of clouds. Instead of seeing the magical rock changing colours from orange to bright red, brown and every colour in between, we were treated to seeing red go to dull red and then dark.
However, the dingo that roamed the parking lot for leftover food and cups of cheap champagne made up for the temporary lack of amazing scenery.
Hardcore swaggers as we now were, we rolled out our sleeping gear as soon as we got back to camp. After a quick BBQ dinner we hit our sacks, and prepared for some amazing star-gazing. But shortly after we lay down,the stars disappeared. We pondered this for a while, until we heard the unmistakable trickle of raindrops.
“Nothing to worry about”, assured our guide, before moving his swag underneath the tour bus. The rain then went from a steady trickle to an insisting drum march accompanied by thunder and lightning. We decided to move our swags into the laundry room.
However my seat mate and I weren’t the only ones with that bright idea and within minute,the room was filled. The skies were wide open, and the room was stuffy and beyond uncomfortably warm. Our tour guide actually got flooded out of his shelter underneath the bus!
I decided to brave it underneath a steel shed near the toilets, while my seatmate stayed in the laundry.
Turns out I was under a lucky start, despite the pouring clouds. I ended up with a fairly good night’s sleep, even though the rain sounded like two skeletons shagging on the tin roof.