Monday, June 22, 2009

Desert Awakenings

We got up super early today and met our tour guide at 6:00 AM 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 Toronto. He was a really nice guy. Eric, our guide, had been working at Uluru for 6.5 years, which is a long time considering the average employee lasts 2-3 months. It is incredibly remote and that gets to people. The sunrise was beautiful, we watched from the tip top of the dune. It was so neat to see the sunshine spread over the cold sleepy space. After sunrise we made our way to the National Park and drove around the rock a bit. Our guide told us a story of some ancient ancestral beings that the Aborigines believe in. We stopped to watch some people begin the climb, then drove around to a big waterhole where the story was to have taken place. He finished out the story and showed us the physical marks in the rock to go along with the story. We also saw the heart of Uluru, which I was excited about. It is accompanied by a kangaroo paw print and a man footprint, and somehow symbolized the ancient beings, animals, and man all living together. Something like that.

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 11:30. 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.

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