On to Uluru ... Monday 12/12/16
Today would be a long one, beginning with last night's reminder to have our luggage outside our room before we went to breakfast (to which we complied). The second half of that message said that the bus would leave at 7am, be there or be left behind (kidding about the "left behind" part).
How many people know that Uluru (Ayers Rock) is roughly 275 miles (463km) from Alice Springs, via the Stuart and Lasseter Highways? That's approximately five hours driving time. When you're traveling with 17 other people, pit stops have to be provided, too, because somebody's always gotta go, so the five hours becomes six. Is this route scenic? Not really (look at the photo above), but the stops were, as you'll see. The coach we were in was smaller than what we've been used to (no comfy, plush seats), so the stops were most welcome. Roads that we call "paved," Aussie's call "sealed," and they weren't too bad.
Stuart's Well Camel Farm was our first break, around 8 in the morning. For a price (I don't know how much), you can ride a camel, preferably a pretty one. Only two in our crowd were interested, and the rest of us gathered to watch! Guess it might have been too early for everyone else.
Ah, the pretty one is at left! 😉
Nice smile, too.
Sonya and Arvid, waving, and away they go!
With a sprint at the end of the track, wowzers! The watching crowd applauded. Sonya and Arvid were triumphant on the camel!
Whoa, there! Getting off the dang thing is another matter!
It was fun and a timely stop.
Above, moving right along → turning onto Lasseter Hwy ....
Mt Ebenezer Roadhouse came next. Morning tea was provided, which was especially handy for anyone who'd visited one of the rooms below, and might again be thirsty. These roadhouses are set in the middle of nowhere, and I'm guessing most travelers stop ... driver fatigue would be a real issue here. We didn't see any animals on the road, but we weren't sitting up front, either. That's the other hazard in the Outback, hitting a 'roo or a camel or even a stupid steer.
Uh, well, okay. Christmas in the Outback does NOT resemble Christmas, say, in New England, or many another area in the states! Local Aboriginal art was also available at Mt Ebenezer's, but Jimmy and I passed. Besides, after a brief survey, I was outside, looking at the green trees and birds on their branches, and that absolutely deserted-looking road.
Well, now, think that might be Uluru? Nope, that's Mt Connor, a striking mesa, but a lot of people are fooled when it pops into view. Another name is Fool-uru 😄. Like Uluru, it's a sacred site to Aboriginal people, who call it Attila. This is the Mt Connor Lookout, a rest area with a pit toilet, and parking for those needing a rest. Our bus stopped here.
When the smell hits you before you see the danged thing, only desperation would make you step up and use it. I wasn't desperate. Peee-uu!
However, this flock of Zebra finches didn't seem to mind the stink, they found a (fresh?) water source below the toilet. I hope the water source was sink water since these guys were all over that puddle. (I got close enough to take the pic before making a speedy getaway.)
We are in red sand country -- red-sand dunes! Amazing to see trees and flowering shrubs growing in red sand. Across the hwy from the rest area, I climbed to the top of a dune (to see what was on the other side) and, holy cow, I was astonished to see a lake! Our guide called it Lake Martin, but I can't find any verification on that. I'm guessing it's a salt pan "lake" 90% (or more) of the year, but as I mentioned earlier, rain fell in the area not long ago, and it appears a fair amount of rainwater collected here. Hey, that's our road disappearing over the horizon.
A few miles down that road, I saw a forest of ... "what are those?" I asked. Desert Oaks,(Allocasuarina decaisneana) they're called. Quite a sight, I can tell you, when they hove into view, seemingly out of the blue. Attractive, too. A forest is not what you'd expect to see in the red desert.
The road goes on forever ....
And, suddenly, there it is: Uluru. Ayers Rock. Sacred site to native peoples and to many others who have seen it. Still a long way for us, but we're close. We are next.