Monday, March 2, 2015

Day 8 Australia - Alice Springs to Ayers Rock

Sunday 1st March, 2015 - Drive Alice Springs to Ayers Rock

Approx 462 km / 6.5 hours
Leave very early this morning to make it to Ayers Rock in time for your 3:00PM tour.

We are up and ready to head out. As we are heading to settle our bill a tour guide approaches and we say no we are not on a tour.

Outside the tour bus.

We get in the car but the bus is blocking our way. Then the driver comes and calls us by name and says we are his missing passengers for the drive to Ayer's Rock. No, John says, that was changed by our agent when she booked us a car instead.

A stop for coffee.

Our car!

John says I better enjoy my coffee and finish it to the last drop at $6 each!!

Another break for the toilets - did you know that they recognize Canadians because we ask for the restroom?

Everyone we met kept telling us to get fly nets, but it wasn't until John was chatting with an Aussie bloke at this stop that we took this seriously, he said we must buy them.

We think we are smart and can see Ayer's Rock or Uluru in the distance and turn off to get a photo.
Another couple (Aussie) are there and John says now we don't need to visit it, she says "that's what we used to tell the kids".

Turns out it is Mount Conner.

Mount Conner, also known as Attila and Artilla,and occasionally found as Mount Connor, is an Australian mountain located in the southwest corner of the Northern Territory, 75 kilometres (47 mi) southeast of Lake Amadeus at the border of the vast Curtin Springs cattle station.

It reaches to 859 metres (2,818 ft) above sea level and to 300 metres (984 ft) above ground level.

Mount Conner is a flat-topped and horseshoe-shaped inselberg, part of the same vast rocky substrate thought to be beneath Uluru/Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta/Olgas.

Arrive Ayers Rock
Ayers Rock/Uluru rises 348 metres from the desert and has a girth of 9.4 kilometres. These statistics
alone assure its star role as the world's most famous monolith, yet it is estimated that at least two-thirds of the Rock lies beneath the surface.

Desert Gardens Hotel
Yulara Drive,
Ayers Rock NT 0872
A comfortable 4 star hotel at Ayers Rock Resort, Desert Gardens Hotel is set amongst magnificent ghost gums and flowering native shrubs.
Relax in the comfort of your private balcony or courtyard, or unwind near the pool over cocktails.
It's only a short stroll to the numerous lookouts, where you can view one of the best sunsets in
Australia, with the spectacular play of colours across the face of Uluru. Once the sun sets, you
can try some Australian native delicacies at White Gums Restaurant, or try one of the other 13
dining experiences available throughout the Resort.

We arrive around noon and woo hoo our room is ready. We are finally learning to let the bell boys cart our luggage and we are so glad as our room is way around the back.

We are so glad for our fly nets!! Little buggers LOVE to fly around your head.

Time for lunch.

My kangaroo slider $19 and the bread was hard as was John's.

Lamb focaccia $21. Neither of us enjoyed this lunch and it sat forever in our stomachs. Anyone who knows me knows I never complain about indigestion.

Kata Tjuta and Uluru Sunset
Transfer Type: Seat in Coach
Duration: 4 hour(s)
Pick up: 3:00pm Desert Gardens Hotel , Ayers Rock
Drop off: 7:00pm Desert Gardens Hotel , Ayers Rock

Travel to the mystical 36 domes of Kata Tjuta.

The bus is full and Pat is our driver and Joey is our guide. You have to pay $25 per person for a national park ticket. This slows up the process. Joey also insisted that everyone have at least a litre of water so we and got one.

They are full of cautions about the heat and what happens if you get dehydrated.

Kata Tjuta, sometimes written Tjuṯa (Kata Joota), and also known as Mount Olga (or colloquially as The Olgas), are a group of large domed rock formations or bornhardts located about 365 km (227 mi) southwest of Alice Springs, in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia. Uluru, 25 km (16 mi) to the east, and Kata Tjuta form the two major landmarks within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The 36 domes that make up Kata Tjuta cover an area of 21.68 km2 (8.37 sq mi), are composed of conglomerate, a sedimentary rock consisting of cobbles and boulders of varying rock types including granite and basalt, cemented by a matrix of sandstone.

The highest point, Mount Olga, is 1,066 m (3,497 ft) above sea level, or approximately 546 m (1,791 ft) above the surrounding plain (198 m (650 ft) higher than Uluru). Kata Tjuta is located at the eastern end of the Docker River Road.
On the way, stop at a lookout for panoramic views the southern side of Kata Tjuta.

I am totally fascinated with the plants growing here.

We make a bathroom break or what Joey calls the most expensive toilets in Australia, or as she called them the Dunny — The toilet, W.C., or bathroom. If someone busting to know where the dunny is, tell 'em to "follow their nose to the thunderbox".

Continue on before arriving at the base of Walpa Gorge. Spend sometime exploring the gorge and the unusual conglomerate rock formations. The walking trail through Walpa Gorge follows the natural creek between two of the tallest domes of Kata Tjuta.

2.6 km return/1 hour
This short, easy stroll leads up a rocky, gentle slope and then into a shady, moist gully.
It ends on a viewing platform between the towering domes.

Some choose to walk all or part of the way. John did the full walk.

There used to be twelve different walks here, winding through the valleys and gorges between the rocky domes. Today only two remain. The others have been closed, in part to protect the fragile environment, but mostly to allow the Aboriginal owners of the land to conduct their ancient ceremonies.

The area is not only closed for white people, it is also off limits for Aboriginal people who have no business there. Only those who are inducted to the necessary level are allowed to access certain places and only for the required ceremonies or as otherwise specified by the cultural law, Tjukurpa.

In the late afternoon travel to the Uluru sunset viewing area. Witness and photograph the striking
colour changes of Uluru at sunset whilst enjoying nibbles and a glass of wine.

This was a great setup. Each tour bus had its own table and the wine was free flowing.
As we approach.

There are some aboriginals selling some paintings. We are told that these are half the price of the same items in town and we shouldn't barter as they don't understand the concept.

 We just make it back to the hotel in time for our 8 PM dinner reservation.

Neither of us liked anything on the menu, rather rare for both of us. So we share an appetizer plate for two $40.
Crocodile, wallaby, emu and kangaroo. The croc was good, the wallaby was chopped and smoky, the emu like beef and the kangaroo still tough.


  1. Am really enjoying your Australian tour.Wish I had bought a fly net. This was the only place in Aus that I took a tour, found it incredibly expensive but how can you go to Aus and not visit the red centre? Felt they had you over a barrel.

  2. Ayers Rock is one of those places I would love to see for myself someday. Beautiful!


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