Scenes from Uluru - Camels and Dinner
Wednesday, May 25th
As we landed in the Ayers Rock airport, the first thing I noticed was how very small the airport was. It reminded me very much of the airport on Easter Island. The same people checking you in at security were the ones flagging the plane into the one gate. We disembarked the plane and walked down the stairs on to the tarmac. That's just not done at home.
The second thing I noticed was the signage about the dingoes. We've all heard the line from the movie. "The dingoes are my baby!!" And the movie was set where we were heading. But it didn't actually occur to me that dingoes would actually be here. I never really thought about it.
We knew Ayers Rock would be in the middle of nowhere. But we also knew we had to visit the Big Damn Rock (as we so fondly referred to it before arrival). I mean, it's there. And it's just so big. We had to make this one of our stops.
When going to Ayers Rock (or Uluru, as I will be referring to it going forward), the hotel situations are simple. There are a handful of hotels that surround Uluru, but they are owned by the national park. And they all seem fine. We stayed at the Sails of the Desert resort. It was lovely enough. But that's a story for another day. I bring this all up because there are shuttles from the airport to the resort. It seems to be the easiest way to get around. Unless you want to rent a car. And lord knows this will not be a thing for me to do. Ever.
Once you get to your resort and check in, you are able to go from resort to resort by either walking or taking the resort shuttles. Easy enough. And the shuttles are great for two reasons. It was quite hot here. And there was a fly situation that I did not expect.
Flies are serious in Uluru. They seem to be a smaller size than at home, but there is more weight to them. They land on your face. Your eye. Your nose. Your ear hole. On your cheek. Near your lip. They are relentless. So much so that the little shops in the "Town Square" in Uluru has fly nets to go over your head so they stop annoying you. We were only there a full day and $9 seemed like a lot at the time. Looking back, it would have been a small price to pay. Because those flies were horrible bastards.
We had dinner plans later in the day, but before then, we decided to visit the camel farm. Because who ever gets to go to a camel farm??
The farm was hot and dusty. Camels of various sizes were standing and sitting and laying down in the dirt. Just hanging out. Some were off to the side, harnesses being strapped on to their backs. Any other day, we could ride a camel for a few minutes for a few dollars. And any other day I would not be riding a camel. I don't like riding on a horse. I don't expect riding on a camel would be much better. But this day we didn't have any chance to ride the camels, because they were training for the camel races later in the week.
Yep. You heard me right. Camel races. And apparently this is a big thing in Uluru. We hung out at the farm for a bit and watched a practice race or two. It is what you think it would be. A bunch of camels running around a track.
Fast forward a few hours, we had spent some time by the pool. Spent a bit more time lounging around, swatting at the flies. And we made our way to the lobby for our dinner plans.
We had booked an excursion called the Sounds of Silence Dinner. We would have dinner under the stars and under the shadow of Uluru. Does it sound cool?? Cause it sounded cool to me.
Two busses came and we were ushered into the first one. The drive to dinner wasn't too far and as we disembarked, we climbed a small hill to a tray of champagne and a sunset view of Uluru. This worked for me.
We were actually much further from the Big Damn Rock than I expected. I thought we'd be dining right next to the rock. We weren't. I was a little disappointed at first, but the second glass of champagne made me forget any disappointment.
Once the sun set, we walked down towards the tables. Each table sat 10 people. Ours included a couple from Australia and a foursome from England. We all chatted amongst ourselves, telling stories from the current trip in Australia or other trips we've been on. While I can hold my own during Travel Story Time, some of these folks have me seriously beat. Then again, the folks from England have 30 years on me.
As the stories continued, the wine began pouring. And it didn't stop throughout the dinner. My wine glass was never more than half empty. So do I know how much I really drank?? Nope. Did I feel it in the morning?? Yep.
Dinner included a buffet that served such items as kangaroo and crocodile. And really, neither meat was super tasty. According to our Aussie table companions, kangaroo is really a meat that is used in Australia in place of steak. Considering I'm not a huge steak person, it isn't a surprise that kangaroo isn't my thing.
Before dinner, there was Aboriginal dancing. After dinner, the in-house astronomers explained a few things about the night sky. They pointed out the Southern Cross, along with Jupiter and Saturn. Here is where I tried taking pictures of the sky with my camera. It worked out relatively well.
And just like that, it was time to go. The busses magically arrived near where we were seated and we were some of the first people who boarded the bus to go back to the hotel. It had been a long day of traveling and we were exhausted. We also had an obscenely early wake up in the morning. The four of us had a sunrise date with a Big Damn Rock.