Alice Springs/Ayer's Rock
Home to the world's Largest Monolith.
Ayer's Rock is a one horse town. It has the resort and
that's it. The resort is the home to most of the travellers coming to
the visit "The Rock". The hotels in the resort used to be operated by different companies,
but now it's just one big monopoly with different classes of hotels (about 6 or so). We checked in and
then went to wander around the resort, even though it was quite warm. While wandering around, we ran
into Victor, Liz and Diane from Coober Pedy as they were changing hotel rooms.
The Olgas at sunset
Dinner was a "Sounds of Silence" dinner. The resort loads you
onto a bus and takes you out near "The Rock" for an outdoor dinner. It was a very generous buffet with: emu,
kangaroo, barramundi, crocodile and other delicious edibles. There was some pre-dinner champagne and
entertainment with a didgeridoo player. After dinner there was an extremely nice lecture on the stars
of the southern hemisphere. The night was clear enough that no stars were hiding. Scott got to see his first
satellite flare and his first shooting star.
The next morning we got up bright and early to be out at "The Rock" before
sunrise. After the sunrise, we were off to breakfast and a guided tour at the Aboriginal Culture Center. Jacob,
our guide, showed us the various uses the aboriginals had for all sorts of plant life. He also told us one of their
Ayer's Rock at sunrise
dream time stories.
Jacob, our guide
That afternoon we took a good length guided hike through the Olga's. We clambered over
all sorts of rocks and saw a bunch of wild parakeet-type birds. After the hike, it was time for a barbecued dinner.
Once again, they served up emu and kangaroo. They also served up beef, along with a bunch of salads and such. On the
way back to town, the bus stopped for a star gazing session. Man it's great in the outback!
Sunday, we hopped on a bus for our trip to Alice Springs. It was a pretty good bus
ride. Kim struck up a conversation with a backpacker from Germany and I struck up a conversation with the driver,
Tony. It turned out that he's as big a fan of Ford vehicles as I am. When we got to the halfway point, and just
about everyone switched buses, he gave me a cap, that he had along with him, advertising Ford vehicles.
Upon arrival in Alice Springs, we caught a taxi out to the hotel. (I think we
perplexed some of the taxi drivers throughout the trip. We stayed at fairly nice hotels, but arrived in the cities
via relatively cheap transportation.) Once settled in the hotel, we struck out for the main part of the city.
On the way in to town, we were walking under one of the bridges that crosses the usually dry river, when I saw a
snake moving around. We stayed out of each other's way, thankfully. It turns out that that snake was probably
an Eastern Brown snake, one of the five deadliest snakes in the world, and a fairly aggressive one, to boot.
Wandering into town we spot Victor and his two employers chatting with some folks
at one of the local restaurants. Victor was able to break free and come chat with us for about 45 minutes while
the ladies were finishing their conversation. It turns out that Liz had been looking for some aboriginal
art to purchase the day before and had managed to find some artists with some good work. Overnight, the word got
around town. When they settled at the restaurant for lunch (it was dinner time when we found them), they were soon
beseiged by a line of artists interested in selling her some of their works. We're betting that she took the
pieces back to her gallery and had her friends over for an exclusive showing of aboriginal art once she got back
to the states.
We stayed in town until after dark and decided to walk back to our hotel. Given
the distance we had to walk and, more importantly, the area through which we had to walk, we would not do that again.
We were moving extremely quickly through some parts of town.
The next morning, we got on a tour bus for a tour of the eastern MacDonnell Ranges.
The western ranges, that we were supposed to tour, had had too much rain recently and so they were still closed.
Among the things and places we got to see were: Emily Gap, Trephina Gorge and Ghost Gum trees.
The afternoon was occupied by taking a tour of the town: Royal Flying Doctor Service,
School of the Air, the original Overland Telegraph Station, and ANZAC hill.
Tuesday morning, our last day in Alice Springs, we went to the Desert Park Zoo.
They've got a neat set up. A bunch of small enclosures with different varieties of birds or animals in each one.
Some of them are free roaming areas where you can walk in and be as close to the animals as the animals will let you
The bird of prey show was also cool. They had: a Black Kite, a Black Breasted Buzzard,
a Brown Falcon and a juvenile Wedge-Tailed Eagle in flight. The Wedge-Tail was particularly interesting in free-flight.
It became apparent that there was a pair of Wedge-Tails that live in the area that Desert Park is situated. They
did not take kindly to having another Wedge-Tail move in on their turf, which is what they thought was happening
when the juvenile was flying about. They did everything they could to get him to move out of the area, or at least settle
down with his handler.
Rex's Reptiles was another spot on our animal tour that day. We got to learn all
about the various poisonous snakes in Australia, as well as getting pretty dang close to them. We were able to see
a lizard lunch on the poisonous redback spider and look at the third largest lizard in the world ( a perentie (sp?) ).
Rex told us that Alice Springs was having a bit of a plague of redbacks at the moment. Thank goodness we never
Next stop, Cairns.