Sunday 13th December:
The bus journey from Alice to Ayers Rock (Uluru) is a long but fascinating one. In the afternoon we headed to Kata Tjuta, which I formerly knew as the Olgas. I remember being stunned all those years ago by these massive rocks and they were equally stunning today. It is an amazing place.
Sunset at Uluru was interesting even though the cloud meant that we did not see the rock light up as predicted. Because of the weather, the evening BBQ was cancelled.
Monday 14th December:
We left at 4.45 am to get to Uluru for sunrise. Again the cloud prevented the classic lighting up of the rock. We then pressed on for our tour around the base of Uluru. It truly is one of the wonders of the natural work, so huge and stark, particularly because the surrounding area is so flat. In 1979 I climbed the rock, but the aboriginal people do not wish us to do this these days and we respected that wish.
We went back this evening for another sunset viewing; again the cloud cover prevented the rock from lighting up. The BBQ did take place, but rain meant that it was brought inside and the talk about the night sky could not go ahead. Pity.
Tuesday 15th December:
An even earlier start, at 4.15 am. The drive to Kings Canyon took four hours and we had to be there before 9am which is when the canyon rim walk is closed due to extreme heat at this time of year. Which is somewhat ironic as it was cool and very rainy during all of our walk. It is still an amazing place, and a walk with some fantastic views of the canyon itself and the Watarrka National Park. It is not an easy walk - we were given many warnings and had to sign a disclaimer before we are allowed to undertake the walk. And we had to carry at least 3 litres of water. Most of which we carried all the way round - the weather (and lack of any toilet facility) meant that we did not consume a great deal of the water. It was a great place. Then we had another five hours in the coach before we got back to Alice Springs.
Our five days in the Red Centre were organised by AAT Kings of whom we have the highest praise. The driver and guides were helpful and knowledgeable and all arrangements worked like clockwork.
It had been suggested that I re-read 'A Town Like Alice' by Nevil Shute, probably 45 years after I had first read it. A good suggestion. It was interesting to read it in the very area in which it is set.
Wednesday 16th December:
Now we head for the next leg of our adventure, the Australian East Coast. A good flight had us in Cairns in time for dinner and a stroll around town.
Thursday 17th December:
We took a trip to Kuranda travelling by skyrail and returning by train. Both journeys, one above the rainforest and one through the rainforest, were spectacular. The scenery is so different to that in the Red Centre - lush and green. We had an enjoyable day.
Friday 18th December:
We leave land now to spend three days on a boat exploring the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately today was cloudy and hence the coral was grey and the water was somewhat cloudy. We have booked a luxury cruise for three days, but have been disappointed with the boat and its limited facilities.
Saturday 19th December:
More snorkelling plus a walk along the forest on the edge if a beach on Dunk Island. Again poor weather meant that the experience was somewhat below expectations.
Sunday 20th December:
If anything the weather has worsened. Today we had heavy rain. But I enjoyed snorkelling from a beach rather than from the boat. Overall the experience has been disappointing, but it was still good to experience the Great Barrier Reef.