Friday November 16th, 2007
We arrived in AYQ near Ayers Rock (aka Uluru) and headed for Yulara (aka the Ayers Rock Resort). It was kind of surreal seeing the large monolith sticking up out of the ground while flying in. We checked in at the Lost Camel Resort and went to the grocer to purchase food for lunch and some random snacks. The rooms are interesting here. No TVs, just a radio and fridge. The hotels are very well made so they keep the heat out fairly well. Drove to Uluru, stopped at Cultural Center and spent a little time reading there. Went for two hikes (driving counter-clockwise around Uluru); the Kuniya Walk and the Mala Walk. Came back to the hotel for a quick break. Drove back to Uluru for the sunset view. Ate dinner at the Pioneer BBQ and Bar, which is a cook your own food place with live entertainment (locals playing covers).
Pictures from Friday can be found here.
Saturday November 17th, 2007
Today we slept in, relaxed some, got a coffee (cheaper than Starbucks, in the middle of the desert), and went to grocer for juice and muffins. Finished grocer food for lunch. We drove to Kata Tjuta (aka the Olgas), talked to Ranger Sam about park rangers here in the desert (~43 rangers). We ate dinner at the Pioneer Kitchen. Not too bad; pizza and vege wrap. We tried to do a Night Sky Show at the Observatory, but it was too cloudy.
There is not much to Kata Tjuta National Park. There are only a couple trails at Uluru and a couple viewing points along the way. The climb is usually closed unless you are here in their winter. The Olgas only have a couple trails as well and only a couple viewing areas as well. The Valley of the Winds trail is also usually closed.
Pictures from Saturday can be found here.
Sunday November 18th, 2007
We got up at 5am for the sunrise at Uluru. There were not really any good viewing places as it is a roadside stop and not elevated above the trees. Drove by to see if the climb was open and it was already closed due to winds. We bummed around by the pool until check-out. We ate at the Gecko's Café nearby and were disappointed. They gave our pizza to someone else, but we were the ones that noticed the mistake. When we brought it up, they did not apologize or anything and said that they were now putting another pizza on. Not until after I started to pay did I mention that this was disappointing and as soon as I mentioned a review of the place, she said sorry and no payment was necessary. The damage had been done and I threw a $20 at her and said it is too late.
Yulara is a resort that was planned and built in the mid 80’s. They did a fairly good job of hiding the resort in the hills and with trees. Crowd controls are pretty good too. This may be due to expenses here and several bus options for people to come in from Alice Springs. The bad part of the buses is when two or three show up to do a hike. They are loud and make shots difficult. The town is a little expensive, but deals can be found – like eating food from the grocer for breakfast and lunch. Dinner can be done for $30-60. The food actually is not too bad considering you are in the middle of the desert; we didn’t really have anything bad. I think the Aussies know how to plan and get food (and other things) to these remote towns fairly well. I thought a lot about how the village works (I can’t help it). I believe they satellite in TV, internet, phones, and a few radio stations. They then re-broadcast the radio here with transmitters as there are a few stations (some just may be accessible from Alice Springs. I doubt that any fiber has been run here. They make their own electricity and water. Internet is expensive too. There are wireless options around, but they were not available from our room. The rate was $25 for 24 hours (cumulative over two days) which is not too bad for out here. I am guessing it would not be that quick, though, as the internet terminals are not that fast either (about half your time at them is spent waiting for the pages to load). And, since the terminals are some proprietary crap software, we could not log into our bank to move funds.
Pictures from Sunday can be found here.