Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Up early () and out around 8 for “brekkie.” We made our way over to the
After that, we walked over to Circular Quay and got on a ferry to cross the harbour. We got over to
The bike tour began in the oldest district of Sydney, known as The Rocks. We met up there a little early and had a nice chat with a guy from the
Our guide was a college-age guy named
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Well, we’ve done everything we need to do here at Ayer’s Rock, so we slept in this morning! After checkout, we spent a little time wandering around the resort grounds before one last look at Uluru. It was a cloudy morning which kept things cool. We made our way back to the airport, killed a few hours, and then we were on our way to our last Australian city,
Flight was nice, & the descent into
We had a quick dinner then went out to the Sydney Aquarium. I’m so glad we went, because we got to see two things that evaded us in the wild – a platypus and a big ol’ sea turtle! The platypus was smaller than I’d expected, only about a foot in length. It was more bizarre-looking than I’d expected, and kind of looked like he knew he was strange. I remember learning about the platypus when I was a kid (on some set of cards I had??) and it was neat to finally see one J The turtles were just big gigantor turtles, they liked to wedge underneath rocks and stuff to prevent drifting. Some other highlights included little penguins (KI style!), a huge tank with reef fish, a shark tank that you could walk under, and another walk-under tank with “Dugongs,” big things that looked like manatees to me. It was a very good aquarium, but for some reason there was spongebob crap everywhere. That was a little bit obnoxious.
We made our way back to the hotel and watched the end of the rugby game. Michael had learned the rules over the past 2 weeks so he explained it to me.
A few times I woke up in the night, and I loved opening my eyes to see the Harbour bridge just outside my window. This city has definitely charmed me.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Today we slept in a bit (which means not viewing sunrise). We headed out to the roc by . Our mission for the day was to climb Uluru! We started the climb, which began as a steep ascent over a broad face of the rock. We (I) started to feel a little worried and sat down for a bit. Eventually we continued and got to the large portion of the climb that has posts and a chain to hold on to. I thought this would be helpful, but the chain was so low you had to stoop down to hold on. So we continued to climb, all stooped over. We took several breaks along the way as it got cooler and the air thinned out. I kept hoping I would look up and see the end, but it was nowhere in sight. A few times I asked someone coming down if we were close, they would always just chuckle and say “no.” We got to the point where the chain ended and found a nice flat spot to sit and rest. Upon arriving up there, I started to get my usual lightheaded feeling and tunnel vision that I get before blacking out, so I was glad to rest. We sat there for about 15 minutes, then tried to continue on. After about 20 meters, I needed to rest again as I had completely lost my breath. We looked up, saw that we had a long way to go, and made the tough decision to go back. I just couldn’t do it. On top of being exhausted, I was terrified of falling. Eventually we started down. It was crazy. Sometimes I was able to stand upright, but a few times I had to sit down and scoot on my butt. Crazy. When we finally got to the bottom, I sat down and was very thankful to be done. I felt a little bit like a failure for not making it when so many other people do, but my body just wasn’t willing or able. To anyone ever reading this, if you ever go to Uluru, just don’t climb it. 30 something people have died on it because it’s not safe. Do what the Aborigines say and stay on the ground. I wish I had listened.
After the climb, we had a quick early lunch in the car (to avoid the million bajillion flies that I haven’t mentioned yet) and began the base walk that goes around Uluru. Much better! J It is about 9 km around and took us 2 hrs and 15 minutes. It was a really nice walk with constantly beautiful views of Uluru. Some of the best parts are sacred to the Aborigines, so I couldn’t take pictures of them, I’ll just have to remember them. To those of you reading this who ever want to go here, this is the walk to do. Forget the climb, this was much better. Seriously.
After the walk we came back to the resort with no plans other than relaxing J It’s been a while since we did that! I went for a swim, did some more sunbathing, read, and watched TV. I enjoyed that the resort (at least our hotel) was relatively empty. Lots of space to myself.
After some relaxing we went back to the park for sunset. It was totally different from the 1st night we watched sunset because there were different types of clouds. WE both thought the rock appeared more orange than red. Even so, it was really pretty and again the rock was GLOWING in the few minutes before official sunset. Truly spectacular. Back at the resort, we had a “picnic” in our room of cheese, crackers, wine, and chocolate. Good times.
Monday, June 22, 2009
We got up super early today and met our tour guide at in the total darkness of night. We picked up one other passenger and the four of us were off into the desert. We drove about 20 minutes into the outback, walked up a sand dune, and met our camp chef! There was a campfire going and they took our order for “brekky.” While waiting we watched the lightening sky and warmed up the fire (it was COLD out, about 2oC.) We also had some coffee and pastries while waiting for our hot food. Learned that the other guy on the tour was Australian but lives in
After we finished there, he dropped us at the Aboriginal Culture center to learn more about them. We listening to some old men and women speaking about their way of life. The oldest man remembered the 1st time their community saw white men – he thought they were ghosts. I thought one of the most interesting things in the culture center was a “Sorry Book” – a collection of letters written and delivered to park service. The people who wrote the letters were apologizing for taking a rock or handful of sand from around Uluru, which is forbidden and supposedly brings bad luck. All these people had such bad luck after returning home that they bothered to ship the pieces back to Uluru with their apologize. I decided then and there that I wouldn’t be removing any part of Uluru, despite the strong temptation I felt. We hopped back on the bus and were dropped off at the resort around . Very good tour.
After a quick lunch back in our room, we (I! Amy!) drove out to Kata Tjuta, or “The Olgas.” It’s about a 45 minute drive, and upon arrival you are really shocked by how huge they are!! We did a 7.4 km walk called “The Valley of the Winds” – it takes you between two of the giant domes, then back around one to return to the starting point. Even though it was just 7.4 km, it took us a good 2.5 hours to finish. Some of the sections were just so steep. (Luckily some sections had some steps built by park services) The walk provided some really lovely sights, and a true appreciation for how big just one dome is!
The walk wore us out big time. We came back to the resort, I took a quick swim in the heated pool (bliss), and read a bit before dinner. We went back to Gecko’s – it is the least expensive of the expensive restaurants. Expensive resort restaurants are the only options here. There is nothing outside the resort except sand.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Today we see Ayer’s Rock!!
Caught our flight at and landed at Ayer’s Rock around . The flight was relatively empty, Michael and I had an entire row, both sides of the aisle, to ourselves! Nice. We caught just a few glimpses of the rock from the windows, and wow. Just wow. I couldn’t wait to see it up close. Got out into the tiny airport (used a stair case to get off the plane) and got our car. We got upgraded from a compact to a Camry. On our drive to the resort we caught several more glimpses of the rock, getting bigger and bigger. We could also see Katu Tjuta off in the distance, which is big in area like Uluru, but more like individual domes. We got to the resort and found our hotel pretty easily. We stayed at “Sails in the Desert” which is the higher end hotel in the resort complex. It seemed really nice while walking around and finding our room, had a beautiful heated pool & the room lived up to our expectations! We had a private hot tub and very spacious balcony lined with bougainvilleas, overlooking the pool. After settling in and a quick trip to the grocery store, we set off for Uluru! We got our 3-day passes and were in the park, on our way. Uluru grew & grew, far past the size it had in my wildest dreams. What an amazing sight, seeing the world’s largest rock, this place I’ve wanted to visit since I was a teenager. Amazing. Our 1st stop was the base of the climb. I was already starting to feel the guilt, but I came here for the rock, and I knew I must climb. I was really amazed at the steepness of the climb and how sheer the side dropoffs were. And how high it was! The people at the top looked like ants. In a few days, I will be up there.
To get ourselves acquainted w/ the rock, we took a short base walk, called the Mala Walk. It took us to a gorge in the rock and a small watering hole. It was incredibly peaceful and almost silent at the watering hole, and I was starting to see, on a small scale, what was so special about this place. After our walk, we drove to the sunset viewing area, which was just a long parking lot facing the rock. We killed some time with some German backpackers and awaited sunset. As the sun drew closer to the horizon, the rock was definitely getting more red. The most spectacular part was when the sun was *just* at the horizon, Uluru began to glow at its base. The glow spread up the rock over the next two minutes, and almost as quickly, it went away. Just in those few moments, I was deeply appreciative of the opportunity to see it. In such a remote area of a remote country, accommodations have been made to allow me to share in this wonder. How very special.
After sunset we made our way back, had a quick drink at the hotel bar, then had dinner at Gecko’s Café. We turned in pretty early because tomorrow we have to be up at for our Desert Awakenings Tour!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Today we see the
We grabbed our gear & got in the water. Immediately we saw some angel fish the size of couch cushions! There were 6 or 7 of them right by our boat. We made out way over to the reef and spent about 45 minutes looking around. We saw SO much stuff – countless fish of every shape, size, & color. Sea cucumbers were everywhere, giant clams, bright cobalt blue starfish… We got out for about 10 minutes to warm up, then I went on a little speed boat up-current to get out & drift back over the reef with a guide. The guides were very helpful about pointing things out to us. When I got back to the boat, I saw that Michael had gone on the glass bottom boat w/ everyone else, so I just warmed up on the sun deck for a while until they all came back & lunch was served. It was a huge lunch of prawns (ick), pasta salad, meats & breads, etc. SO MUCH! After lunch we got on the glass bottom boat & headed over the Upoluu Cay which was now 2 islands! It was amazing how things changed w/ low tide. Huge sections of reef were now exposed & the stuff just under the surface created a really spectacular turquoise color. When we got the cay they dropped us off at the smaller island (about 50 feet out, it was so shallow) and we waded across to the bigger one. We lounged in the sun for a while, then it was announced that 2 of the crew had brought a soccer ball for a game of “footie” on the cay. Michael and I watched and spent some time wading w/ the fish. It was a really beautiful time – a pristine sandy island in the middle of the barrier reef on a gorgeous day. What a unique experience.
After a while, the tide started to rise (so the island started disappearing) and we snorkeled back to the boat, probably 250 m away. We saw a “nemo” fish in a sea anemone. I know they are clown fish, but the guides called them “nemos” all the time. We also saw some rays very close to the boat. We got out of the water and were done snorkeling for the day. We went back up to the sun deck to warm up and dry off. Unfortunately it was on the chilly side during our return trip with tons of sea spray. It was a bumpy but exciting trip. During this part of the trip they served us cheese & crackers, fresh fruit, and little desserts. I would absolutely recommend this tour company to anyone! We were sad to get off the boat in
We made our way back to the hotel for a shower, did most of our packing, then went out for – surprise! – pizza. And then – bigger surprise! – gelato! My gelato was “tim-tam” flavored, which is some sort of candy? It tasted like chocolate and was good J