"" Writer's Wanderings: Red Centre - Ayers Rock to Kings Canyon

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Red Centre - Ayers Rock to Kings Canyon

As our day at Uluru progressed, so did the rain. Thankfully we had rented a 4WD and could return to the Rock at our leisure. As we approached we could see silvery streaks running down the creases of red rock and when we got closer, we could see that the small silver streaks were really large waterfalls from the afternoon downpour.

At a place we had visited in the morning with our tour, we parked and walked the path back to the waterhole that was quiet and serene only a few hours ago. It was now a raging waterfall that had already filled the reserve and was threatening to overflow onto the boardwalk where we stood. Two visitors who had been there for about twenty minutes said the water level had risen two inches in that short time. We took that as a cue to leave before our feet got wet.

We returned to the resort to find that our evening dinner in the desert to watch the sunset was canceled. Undaunted, we found the little grocery store in the shopping area and bought two ceasar chicken salads, some rolls, and fruit and went to the car park area that was for viewing the sunset. The clouds again obscured the sun as it set but we did watch the large monolithic rock disappear into the darkness before we returned to our room to convince ourselves that we were among the privileged few to have seen it rain in the desert. The next day we would truly find out just how “privileged” we were.

Up early the next day, we drove out to the Rock again just on the outside chance that the clouds might part a bit and give us a better sunrise. No luck. We packed up and began our trek to our next stop, Kings Canyon Resort. As we checked out, the desk clerks offered to confirm that the roads to the resort were open. The report was doubtful that we would get through even with our 4WD. But the weather report was calling for the rain to ease and the weather in that direction was said to be sunny so we headed out anyway.

About three and a half hours later, we came to a dead stop as three meters of sand and soil blocked the road. A bulldozer was trying to clean it up so we drove back to the Kings Creek Station and had lunch and hung out with others who were waiting news on the road. A couple hours later, there was a path through the red mud that we could navigate and we continued on. Unfortunately to find that there was a floodway only two kilometers from the resort that had two meters of water rapidly flowing over the road.

Undaunted again, we turned around and decided to visit Kings Canyon while we waited to see if the water level would go down. The canyon floor showed all sorts of damage from raging waters. The trail that walkers normally follow was underwater in several places and it didn’t take long for us to decide we’d seen enough. We did have a chance to scope out the trail that we had planned to take around the rim and decided there was no way we were going to attempt the steep climb at the beginning especially if it was still rainy.

Back at the floodway, the water had dropped some but not enough for us to get across. Many who had waited most of the day were turning around as the park ranger announced that more rain was on the way. With that, we turned our 4WD around and headed for Alice Springs, a four hour drive that got very dark as the sun set. And the darker it got, the bigger the bugs got. They sounded like rocks as they splat like juicy green tomatoes on the windshield. But we turned on the music from my phone (our radio had gone out on the 92,000+ km Nissan Patrol) and listened and sang to golden oldies from the 60s as we drove through the dark hearing bugs hit the windows. Ah, the making of another travel memory.

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