A 4.45am wake up call on the campsite.
Sunset at Uluru was beautiful. There were no dramatic skies as the sun sank below clouds, but the chance to watch the rock change colours as the light changed was unmissable.
Glass of bubbly with the viewing?
Don’t mind if I do.
Sunset viewing takes places at a designated spot and the carpark rapidly filled with small trucks and huge buses trying to arrive early enough to ensure a good spot.
There was a long line tour guides setting up tables, next to the low fence, with smart table cloths and champagne glasses waiting for the sparkling wine to be poured.
Visitors piled off the buses carrying collapsible stools to watch the sunset from.
We had no need of such gadgets. Margaret had parked up next to the only benches on the viewing line. Smug? Us?
Yes, until a line of geriatrics marched past us and, (more to the point their bubbly) parked their stools right in front of our viewing spot. A pointed: “Oiiii” resolved that issue.
And how was the camping? If there’s a bed, it isn’t camping, I am delighted to report.
It can also hardly be described as ‘roughing it’ if someone cooks your dinner… kangaroo meat bolognese. Very tasty.
The moon was almost full though it didn’t dim the stars in the night sky above us.
A cool breeze in the early hours of the morning made sleep very comfortable.
With a brief stop to watch sunrise over Uluru we headed over to the Valley of the Winds at the Kata-Tjuta National Park.
Dust haze masked the rock and it was only the temperature that confirmed it wasn’t mist.
I think this may be heresy… seeing Uluru was magical but Kata-Tjuta is a much more interesting and spectacular rock formation.
It’s a similar age to Uluru, formed as a result of tectonic plates pushing up the earth and then tilting them on their sides: Uluru at a 90° angle and Kata-Tjuta at 15°.
That’s your geology section of the pub quiz covered.
This morning was even hotter than the day before with the afternoon forecast to be warmer still. While I find a dry heat far more tolerable than a muggy heat, it was still quite challenging after the mild days in Alice Springs.
The separate rocks of Kata-Tjuta create wind tunnels and once all of the tour groups passed by, sitting in the valley listening to the breeze was incredibly relaxing as well as cooling.
Rainfall here, too has encouraged new growth on the valley floor and a now gradually shrinking pool was full of tadpoles.
The boulders of Kata-Tjuta were stunning: a completely different outline on the horizon to Uluru.
The early start was necessary as many of the paths close when the heat rises above 36°C. The path that Margaret was leading us on would close at 11am.
Even though we left some time before then the day was already hot and we were heading back down the Lasseter highway, in the truck without air conditioning, to Curtin Springs… where an angel named Dave met us with a new truck with working air conditioning.
After cooking up lunch on the campsite barbecue – I love these facilities that I’ve seen at beaches and parks across New Zealand and Australia – we set off.
Margaret had promised us a pool.
We arrived at the Kings Creek Station campsite and, more importantly, the pool after a two hour drive down the long straight roads of the Outback.
They stretch for miles, the stunning scenery unchanging, beautiful but unchanging… so much so that the dead perentie (we had spotted the day before) was a talking point for three of the guides at the barbecue.
At the pool the group discussed the impact of the heat on us.
Yesterday’s walk had been delayed until the hottest part of the day, because we had had to wait for a delayed flight into Yulara’s airport bringing three people to join us.
The walk this morning, on top of yesterday afternoon’s hadn’t helped.
Most of us were feeling tired though the cold water was invigorating and much needed.
There was nothing to do for the rest of the afternoon but rest in the tents. I chose one with a cover though, as you can see, without walls.
An evening breeze was going to be refreshing, though I might be glad of a sleeping bag warned Margaret.
She also advised that we hide our shoes under our mattresses. The local dingos are a nightmare for stealing people’s boots.