We were picked up from our hotel at 6:20 (after being told it would be 6:30, so we held everyone up a bit.) We had a long drive ahead of us – 600KM, or 450 miles. It wasn’t too bad since they broke the trip up with somewhat frequent stops. Our first stop was at a camel farm, where I got to ride a camel. That was OK, but man are they some ugly creatures. I think he might have known I ate his cousin the night before. Then back on the bus for a few more photo ops, including one at a place called Mount Conner (also referred to as Fooluru, since it does look somewhat like Uluru.) We made one more stop at a place called Maruku Arts and Crafts Cooperative, where Justine got a bit of Aboriginal art. She was pretty adamant about getting something where the artist was really Aboriginal (some aren’t), and got most of the proceeds. It was on cloth, so it’s rolled and packed safely in our luggage. At 12:30 we eventually got to the town near Uluru called the Ayers Rock Resort. There was a name for where we were, but I don’t remember. Without the resort, there isn’t much of a town. This resort had a range of hotels, ranging from what seemed to be pretty high end to campsites. We stayed at the Outback Pioneer, which was a relatively low end option. It was one of our only options to choose from, but it wasn’t that nice.
After checking in, and having a lunch at the village nearby (really, just shops attached to the resort), we met back up with the bus driver again, at about 2:45. From there we toured around Uluru, looking at some various features of this big rock, and hearing some of the stories about the mythos behind the rock. About sunset, we made our way to the sunset viewing area, and took quite a few photos. Regretfully, my photos were supposed to be shot in RAW (hence slightly underexposed, so I can modify them after the fact effortlessly), but I in fact shot them in JPG (meaning it’s already processed in the camera, and underexposed.) I was pretty pissed when I found that out, but not much I can do about it. The sunset was good, but not great. Once the sun got somewhat low in the sky, it went behind the clouds, which took away a lot of the great colors you can get from the sunset. There was an option for an expensive ($200) BBQ under the night sky, but we passed.
The next morning, I got up early for the sunrise tour of Uluru. I had to be out of the room at 4:15, so I woke up about 3:45, had some coffee and drug myself to the bus. Justine stayed behind for her beauty sleep. The sunrise was quite a bit nicer than the sunset, and I remember to shoot in RAW format, so the post processing can bring out the true image. Afterwards, we headed to Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), which is another Aboriginal Sacred Site, which happens to be a big rock in the ground. Interestingly enough, they won’t say what the significance of this site it, so we (non-Aboriginals) don’t know the purpose. There is a Men’s Sacred Site, and a Woman’s Sacred Site. We toured that on the bus and made one photo stop. We then went to the Walpa (Olga) Gorge, and walked up the middle of it. It was pretty, and a decent time for photos.
We then went back to our hotel, I showered, and we packed up our stuff for the ride to Kings Canyon.