At some point during the night we reaffirmed that dorm rooms are the worst. Our roommate, we would later learn named Josh, stumbled in at 11.30 and proceeded to exit and re-enter the room several times, turning the lights on and off and slamming the door each time. Lynn had wisely chosen to sleep with both earplugs and eye covers so she was blissfully unaware of Josh’ Triumphal Entry. Eventually he passed out (in what we would later learn was the wrong bed) and I fell back asleep only to wake up a few hours later to the sound of the A/C fan losing a bearing and being quite vocal about it. I blindly turned it to a different setting where it didn’t protest as much and went back to sleep. I finally woke up for good at 3.55 am, apparently ready to take on the day after my exceedingly excellent sleep. I waited an hour to wake up Lynn and we packed up and left, much kinder to Josh than he had been to us, headed off to catch the sunrise on Uluru.
We were a bit behind schedule and had to head clear across the park to the sunrise viewing area but Lynn made up time in the car and we caught some excellent colors on the rock as we circled it on our way. We made it to the viewing area just in time and after a less than amazing start, we did eventually see the rock turn bright orange as the sun came up above some clouds on the horizon. We also managed to spot who we believe might be a time travelling Mark Twain who would continue to fascinate me for the rest of the day every time we crossed paths, which would be a lot.
After sunrise we moved the car to a park closer to the rock (coincidentally the one where you start the trek to the top – but it was again closed for “safety”), filled up our waters, made some sandwiches for the day and started off on a 9.6 km walk around the base of Uluru. It is in fact a very large rock. We enjoyed the coolness of the morning and could feel it emanating off the rock the same way it feels in a parking garage in the middle of summer.
As we made our way around, we appreciated the many faces of Uluru and kept trying to pick a favorite before deciding that they were all impressive in different ways. The sheer size of the thing kept us in awe for the full 3 hours of the walk, especially when standing at the base of a vertical cliff lookin up, or when there were gum trees available for comparison. Along the way we had a debate about the Anangu Laws which discourage pictures of certain areas as well as climbing the rock itself. We both spent a fair bit of time struggling to come up with an analogy in western culture for someone climbing their sacred rock and eventually gave up. If anyone out there has a good one please let us know.
We ended our walk with another spotting of time travelling Mark Twain in a portion of the rock that looks like the curl of the waves we had seen along the Great Ocean Road. I awkwardly took some pictures of him for posterity before we headed back to the car and ate our sandwiches.
It was now 9.30 and we had one walk left to do in the Uluru portion of the park before we had done them all. Our plan was to finish early before the sun was at its fullest since the temperature was forecast to be 104 F today. With plenty of time to complete what the park guide called an hour walk we headed over to the Dune Hike.
The hike itself was quite difficult, over loose red sand through the dunes on the outside of the dessert (you can remember the spelling because you always want more dessert right – that’s a terrible joke I have with Lynn). It was slow going across the sand but it gave us ample time to look for wildlife and Lynn to show off her tracking skills as she managed to spot two snake tracks across the path. We reached the end much faster than expected though, and a little disappointed, headed back to the car. We finished in 30 minutes and figured that the hour guideline must be for the tourists who haven’t been walking ten miles a day for the past three months.
Done with the day’s planned activities and the temperature breaking 95, we headed back for naps. The mysterious Josh was gone again and we slept for two hours before waking up and deciding it was lunch time. We hit the local grocery store and stocked up on tuna and crackers, carrots and hummus, and kangaroo skewers for dinner.
After lunch we headed over to the pool where we spent the afternoon reading. Lynn is now proudly 58% through her book about the settling of Australia and she is quite certain it is the longest book she has ever read. Every so often a thunderstorm would blow over and we even had another sighting of time travelling Mark Twain!
Eventually we decided a walk was in order and we headed off to check out the other three hotels in the Ayer’s Rock Resort (There are only four hotels available anywhere near Uluru and they are all part of this resort complex. Well technically five, but one is luxury tents for $1200 a night per person so we don’t count that one.) We managed to get inside the first one, the Sails in the Desert, just as another storm blew over and we enjoyed listening to the rain on the canvas ceiling from the safety of the lobby.
After the storm was over we went outside and were hit with a wall of eucalyptus smell. We had noticed that when it rains in the desert here, immediately afterwards there is an olfactory barrage as the plants and dirt are stirred up. We have both decided we like the smell of eucalyptus so we don’t mind one bit.
We continued on to the grocery store, where the high price of ice cream put a damper on the next phase of our plans, before finishing our walk through the hotels and heading back home. There was a crowd starting to gather at the hotel bar, so we decided to join them for a pint of ale and had a great conversation about politics, personal freedom, and Lynn’s strong beliefs about how the American education system is failing the youths of today (maybe that explains their rowdiness in hostels).
Bellies empty, we headed to the kitchen to prepare our kangaroo and made a stir fry of it and some mushrooms with a side salad. It wasn’t great. We both decided we’re not huge fans of kangaroo and drowned it in Sweet Thai Chili Sauce to make it palatable. It’s gamey but in a different, worse way, than lamb which I also don’t really like to begin with. Thankfully it wasn’t dry and tough like the last time I had it, which is apparently easy to do because there is very little fat in it.
After dinner we relaxed in the bar area and Lynn read the news while I examined our pictures and documented the days activated.
Daily Walking Miles: 13 miles
- There are flies literally everywhere. They don’t bite or anything but they are super annoying and have an affinity for going in your ears and up your nose. The traditional way of keeping the flies at bay was to wear a dead fish on your head and as the fish oil would drip down your head throughout the day it would keep the flies away. We chose the more sanitary method of handkerchiefs over our heads.
- You have to present a room key for any hotel to purchase alcohol here. Apparently it was part of the deal that was reached when the Anangu people allowed the hotels to be built because they don’t want their own people able to drink.
- We have started a new twitter account, @unimpressedDnL, where we sarcastically are unimpressed by the amazing things we see on our trip. It amuses both of us a lot to channel the people that make up a lot of our Facebook feeds.