aboriginal art, aboriginal people, adventures, alice motor inn, alice springs, australian outback, ayers rock, cairns, caravan, caravan park, dream time, ellery creek, emu run tours, geology, glen helen, imoova, kata-tjuta, macdonnell ranges, mbantua, mount conner, mount ebenezer, northern territory, olgas, ormiston gorge, outback, queensland, red centre, salt lake, simpsons gap, standley chasm, travel, trip, Wauchope Hotel, wycliff well
This is the final installment of the great Australian outback adventure, the highlight of our trip. Not to take anything away from all the other magnificent places and landscapes that we’ve explored on this trip – and my photos don’t do it justice – but seeing Uluru was high on my list of places to visit. I’ve been living in Australia for eight years before the dream became a reality.
On February 16, Kelly and I were picked up from the motel just before 5AM. We had a very long day ahead of us and we needed sustenance so our first stop was at Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse to grab some coffee and maybe a few snacks and drinks. It’s not like we needed to buy any extra food, really. Emu Run Tours makes sure to pack lots of snacks. As soon as we stepped onto the bus at 5AM, they handed us a small breakfast pack with muesli, juice, and other snacks. And all along the trip, they would hand out lollies, fruits, and lamingtons. They also brought large jugs of cold water so we could refill our water bottles. As our guide, Ryan, told us the other day, hungry tourists are angry tourists.
One of the ladies working at the roadhouse found four abandoned bunnies near the fuel pump. She took them inside and she let us (the tourists) take photos and pet them. They were so adorable!
All throughout the trip, our tour guides/coach drivers told us interesting tidbits about the changing landscape, including the plants, we were driving through. Richard told history and geology stories while Tic told dream time stories and introduced us to the native plant life in the area. At one point along the drive, Richard had asked if there were any geologists on the bus. Kelly and I kept quiet. For one, we didn’t want him to be self-conscious about doing his spiel, and more importantly, we didn’t want to get asked to explain the geology ourselves! He did mention that a few days earlier, there were two geologists on the tour with them. (Trin and Beck! Haha!)
Our next stop was at a look out point for Mount Conner, sometimes called Attila. It’s also been referred to as “Fool-eroo” because apparently, there were some hikers/campers/explorers who’d traveled from very far to see Uluru. They had been hiking for a very long time and so were so excited to behold a magnificent mound in the distance. They took photos then made their way back to Alice Springs – a few days’ worth of hiking. When they had the film developed, the photographic technician commented that they had taken beautiful photos of Mount Conner, not of Uluru!
Just before noon, we stopped by Kata-Tjuta (Olgas). From afar, we thought that the Olgas was comprised of fine sandstone but on closer inspection, it was actually conglomerates. Sorry, geology nerd. #sorrynotsorry
There are dream time stories associated with this place as well but blogging about it won’t really capture the essence of the stories. What I’m saying is, you have to go there yourselves and be immersed in the area to really appreciate the stories and to behold the breath-taking landscape all at the same time. Do it now, put this tour on your bucket lists!
We arrived at Uluru at high noon and stopped at the public access area to the Ayers Rock Resort. Here, we stretched our legs for a bit and went for a toilet break. We were also handed our packed sandwich lunches. There was a souvenir shop there but we didn’t bother entering.
After the Olgas, we visited the Aboriginal Cultural Centre and did the 45-minute walk around the base of Uluru. The trail that we took was called the Mala Walk. Now, something happened at this time that I felt I could have handled better. While at the Cultural Centre, I wandered off somewhere (probably the toilet or something) and when I got back to the bus, I was one of the last ones to enter. I told Tic that I was looking for my friend, Kelly, and he said, she’s at the back of the bus. I didn’t check and I should have. We drove off and I wondered where she was. Maybe she needed a break from me and sat at the back of the bus. But it was when we got out of the bus at the foot of Uluru that I really started to worry. I couldn’t contact her and I told the guides that really, we left someone at the cultural centre! Tic drove back to look for Kelly and the rest of the tour group continued with the Mala Walk with Richard. (I don’t think they ever lost a tourist before and I could see the panic in Tic’s face when I said I wasn’t joking.) More than halfway through our walk, I spot our bus and I see Kelly walking towards our group. Thank God! Moral of the story, never believe the tour guide that “your friend’s at the back of the bus”.
The next series of photos were taken during the Mala Walk at the base of Uluru. Now, there are some areas that are considered more sacred than others so Richard would tell us when we needed to put our cameras away. There are some areas that we couldn’t take photos of.
The next quick guided walk we did led us to the Mutitjulu Waterhole. Here, we heard more Aboriginal stories as told by our very funny (in a smart ass kind of way) guide, Tic.
Just before sunset, we made our way to the viewing area. There were other tour buses but our spot was the closest to Uluru.
While Richard and Tic were busy preparing our sunset barbecue feast, we all had a chance to take photos and do short walks or check out the art works being peddled by the Aboriginal women at the car park.
We had a glass of bubbly with the nice salads, bread, and sausages. Even with a bus full of tourists, we were all able to go back for seconds! After we had our fill of food, we still had time to watch the sun completely set and relax for a bit before we started our 6-hour drive back to Uluru. Kelly and I were the last to be dropped off at our motel at 1AM.
This has got to be the longest day tour ever but it was so worth it. I highly recommend doing the Uluru tour with Emu Run Tours.
This experience is indeed one for the books. I have to thank Kelly for making this dream a reality. It was magical!
P.S. Darwin is the epilogue to this adventure. Wait for it!