We flew from Cairns to Alice Springs – the flight was about a third full. We arrived early afternoon but unfortunately we were then stranded in the airport for 90 minutes as our transfer to the hotel did not arrive.
Not a huge fan of Alice Springs, or maybe I just didn’t have enough time to explore properly. It was certainly a different type of heat to the humidity of Cairns, very hot and dry.
The next morning we left early to drive to Ellery Creek watering hole for an early morning dip:
Then we drove onto Uluru. It was an eventful journey which included driving through a massive sandstorm/thunderstorm and passing something which looked like it was going to develop into a tornado:
At this point we weren’t sure if there was going to be a sunset to witness at Uluru, but thankfully by the time we got there the weather had improved:
The following morning was another early start to see the sunrise over Uluru before a 3 hour walk in increasingly hot temperatures at Kata Tjuta. The heat made it physically demanding but the views were worth it.
In the afternoon I splurged on a helicopter flight over Uluru and Kata Tjuta. More spectacular scenery, and you start to get an idea of how remarkable both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are because there is literally nothing else for as far as the eye can see.
We visited the cultural centre in the afternoon before doing the ‘mala’ walk around part of Uluru itself in the late afternoon.
In the evening and overnight, there was an almighty thunderstorm. We were meant to be sleeping in ‘swags’ – basically a large sleeping bag with a built-in mattress, which you sleep in outdoors. As it started raining in the early evening and did not stop, we commandeered some semi-permanent tents on an adjacent camping ground. When the occupants of those tents rocked up at 1.30am whilst it was still raining, it’s fair to say they weren’t impressed!
The next day we had an early start and a long driving day to the opal mining town of Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy gets so hot in summer (can be late 40s C) that many of the inhabitants live underground. We actually stayed in a motel that had been burrowed out of rock, and it was surprisingly (and refreshingly) cool in the rooms.
We had a tour of an opal mine the following day, and brief drive around the town before heading to the next overnight stop at William Creek.
William Creek is the smallest town in Australia (population 8), and is truly in the middle of nowhere. It was extremely hot in William Creek (over 40 when we arrived), fortunately there was a swimming pool to cool off in.
In the evening I had a very good meal of goat rogan josh and far too much wine.
The next day was quite hard work on the bus as everyone was feeling a bit delicate, and it was yet another long drive. These few days really gave me the impression of just how vast Australia is. We drove hundreds of miles each day, and there was flat land with very little to see. One horse towns every couple of hours to fill up with fuel, but otherwise just miles and miles of desert. And not the kind of desert that I had imagined – no soft white sand dunes here, it was actually surprisingly green as there has been more rain than normal
We drove to a sheep station at Beltana. This was a really cute place to stay. Very homely with good food, a pool, and various animals including goats, alpacas and camels.
The outback was a really interesting experience. I love how big and expansive it is. How you can see for miles and miles and miles and have an uninterrupted view. I also love how big the sky is here. Even when it has been grey, it has still been so much bigger than it is at home. You really get a sense of how vast Australia is.