I never know whether I should be calling it Ayers Rock or Uluru! Well whichever you prefer, it was the number one place I wanted to visit in Australia. When my parents did the long trip to this side of the world a few years ago, it was their highlight and the photos looked amazing! It was a pretty expensive decision to visit but as we were heading up north anyway, it’d be rude just to fly overhead! We booked a tour with Mulgas Adventures that would see us and a group of backpackers spending three days exploring the red centre before journeying for another two up to Darwin.
Safe in the knowledge that we were leaving a cold Melbourne behind to go to a sunny hot dry place, it was very confusing to arrive in a cloudy Alice Springs. Alice Springs is probably not somewhere I’d choose to stay for too long, the one day and night we had there was plenty long enough to see the small aboriginal town. After a 6am wakeup we were off in the bus with our tour guide Lachlan – great guy! First stop was for a camel ride where a mancunian lad walked us round in a circle, much to our hilarity and the pain of my bottom. After stupidly leaning on an unmarked electric fence, we were off to Ayres Rock. Several hours of napping later and we were off the bus for a walk around the base, constantly swatting at the flies learning some aboriginal stories along the route. It is a rather spectacular looking thing and I so wish that it had been sunnier to really bring out the red! After a glass of champagne at a non-existent sunset, the light drizzle that we’d coped with all day had turned into unrelenting rain. After a Camel burger (not the ones we’d ridden earlier I hope!) it was time to roll our swags outside for some stargazing while falling to sleep….oh wait the rain! Much better a night all squished into the laundry room…
Next day we were woken at 5am to discover the rain wasn’t going anywhere and our lovely sunrise at the rock was cancelled. After us mob of grumpy backpackers had eaten breakfast, we donned our rain coats and drove to Kata Tjuta for a morning walk. Supposedly Kata Tjuta are dome shaped rocks but we couldn’t make anything out as we were pretty much walking through clouds. It was crazy, I don’t think this is what anyone has in mind when they visit the red centre! Despite this, our spirits were as high as the rain levels and we all opted for the long walk – well at this point we couldn’t get wetter!
Next on the itinerary was a drive to Kings Canyon where we’d have another night under the stars ready to wake up and explore in the morning. Most people visiting the area say they come for Ayers Rock but its King Canyon that they prefer. Luck being our absolute enemy this weekend meant that just as we were about to set off we found out that the road had been flooded and instead we were going back to Alice Springs for a night in a hostel and would not get to see King Canyon. Now I’d tried to be optimistic this whole time and being from England I’m used to horrendous unpredictable weather, but now I was becoming a grumpy girl. When you’ve spent months saving for a trip and getting excited about it, for it to go so wrong and have so many things cancelled it’s really not good. Beers and a BBQ back in the hostel that night helped a little but there was still a massive feeling of disappointment lingering. Luckily we had such a good group that made it all so much better!
Dragging ourselves out of bed this morning wasn’t easy when you know all your plans have failed! Lachlan was amazing and cooked us a great breakfast to cheer us all up and told us as a ‘treat’ we were going to go for a walk around the West Macdonnell Range. Not somewhere I’d ever heard of and not far from town, but at least it had finally stopped raining. It was such a beautiful walk, we all absolutely loved our day there. It’s such a surprise as somewhere we knew nothing about but after some very miserable moments, we ended on a high. It was somewhere I’d never have dreamt of going and that made it all the more special – although I still would’ve loved to see Kings Canyon!
Reflecting back, it was a really good tour and massive praise goes to Lachlan and the group, which absolutely made it. The weather we experienced was beyond unfortunate! We were visiting one of the driest parts of this country and saw ridiculous amounts of rain! Things just weren’t all that red in the grey clouds, although we were lucky that we got to see waterfalls flowing in Kata Tjuta which is a pretty rare sight for most tourists!
I think my expectations were far too high and at the end of the day it’s a big red rock with some fascinating stories attached. Even if the weather had been better, I’m still not 100% sold that this is one of the best things to see in Australia when there’s so many incredible places. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but maybe a little too expensive! Sorry Mum and dad but it didn’t quite live up to the hype that you gave it. I’ve realised I’m more of a green girl rather than a red girl when it comes to scenery, so I guess it all comes down to preference and you can’t come to Australia and not see the outback!