"" Writer's Wanderings: The Red Centre - Ayers Rock

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Red Centre - Ayers Rock

The area in the Northern Territory in the middle of Australia is called the Red Centre for good reason. The earth is the reddest I have seen anywhere. It is a mixture of red soil and sand and in the rain, the color deepens. We were able to experience that. Lucky us. As all the guides and people who worked at the Ayers Rock Resort, only about 3% of all visitors ever get to see it rain there.

Remembering my post of a few weeks ago about traveling with a good attitude, we strapped on our happy faces and our fly nets and set out for adventure beginning with the Desert Awakenings tour. Up at 5 a.m. (which was really 3:30 a.m. Perth time—the time changes 1 ½ hours to Ayers rock) we dressed quickly and waited in the hotel lobby for our ride out into the desert before sunrise.

Our 4WD van picked us up and whisked us out to an unpaved road where we bumped our way to a large sand dune with a flat top. A short hike up and we found ourselves at a little picnic area with chairs and a “buffet” table set with pastries, juice, coffee, and tea. Our cook, Zach, had been up even earlier and out at the “barbie” preparing our breakfast. As the sun began to streak the horizon with a strip of orange, we could make out the shadow of Ayers Rock in the distance.

Eventually, the horizon colored more with the glorious beginnings of a colorful sunrise and for an instant the sun actually appeared only to be lost quickly in the passing rain clouds in front of it. It was not the glorious sunrise that lights the Rock with reds and oranges and flames the sky with its fiery color but it was a quiet and reflective morning in the middle of the desert as the world around us was changing guard—night creatures burrowing in for the day and day critters coming out of their nighttime hideaways.

Zach and Emma our guide served us their version of McBush tucker—a breakfast sandwich of egg, crispy bacon, and lettuce. The real star though was the damper Zach cooked in aluminum foil. Damper is a round loaf of bread cooked over a campfire. It doesn’t have a lot of taste but has a nice heavy texture and served with a little maple syrup, went down quite well with a second cup of coffee.

Our tour continued with stops around Ayers Rock (Uluru as the Aborigines call it). The rain moved in as did the flies. We were grateful to have bought fly nets to go over our hats. The flies go for your eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. They don’t bite but they are quite a nuisance. I don’t remember that problem when we visited years ago in July. It was probably the difference in seasons.

After a short stop at the cultural center where Bob and I watched a video of Aborigine women finding food in the bush, including the biggest fattest grubs I’ve ever seen, we returned to the resort to find something a little less intimidating to eat—a hamburger.

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