Big Question Marks

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Weekend in the Centre

The third stop of our journey around Oz was a far bigger jump than the previous, so there was no time to waste. We barely had time to squeeze in a swim in our magnificent hotel pool at the Sheraton Port Douglas, or to have a peek at beautiful Four Mile Beach (my former commute to work), before it was time to pack up and head to the centre of Australia.

We were happy to learn on 26 November that Qantas had NOT yet gone on strike again! We were a little wary of flying with them, as we were making the flights bookings just as the strikes were happening just a few months back. This time when we landed, our runway was surrounded by red dirt and scrub, and we disembarked making jokes about being celebrities or presidents and the like (there's something about descending a stairway onto tarmac that feels so old-fashioned and glamorous!). It was hotter than ever and not a chance of rain in the vivid blue sky.

We checked into our hotel, and headed off to The Rock, loading up on water and hoping to catch the cooler time of the day in the late afternoon (actually, I kind of forgot at Uluru, it's ALWAYS oven-roasting hot). We checked out the very excellent park cultural centre and managed to brave one or two short walks, dodging tour groups and flies along the way. We caught a pretty fantastic sunset over the big rock-- probably what most people expect when visiting Uluru, but having experienced torrential rain on my first sunset viewing a few years back, I was very happy!

The next day was a real test of our stamina as we watched the themometer in the car climb to 34 degrees, then 36, then finally 40! We wanted to see as much of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) as possible, but every time we got out of the car again for another walk to a cave or a trail seemed harder in the blazing heat. I feel like we did see a good chunk of the national park -- caught a great sunset, checked out cave paintings and water holes, and even saw a few lizards just before they dashed back into the scrub. The desert was actually very green when we were there, and there were wildflowers everywhere -- not what my parents pictured at all. The scenery and the colours of the landscape were incredible and it was yet another place that I was thrilled to revisit -- with a much better camera this time -- and seeing Uluru from the plane this time was quite the sight!  Finally, we felt like we'd seen (and sweated) enough and took a break at the hotel pool at Sails in the Desert, which to our surprise was ICE COLD. The desert really is a strange place....

*In case you're wondering, this is not the hotel pool.

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