My trip to the centre.

I don’t really know how to tell you about this place. I can show you the pictures and tell you what I did. But the feeling of this place is something else. You’re only going to get it if you come yourself.

But I’ll give you the rundown of what I got up to, so you can decide if it sounds like a bit of you. I’ve probably gone on a bit, but I really did love it.

I’ve been trying to do more Australian things, I used to use all my holiday up going home. But holiday here is tight, I’ll tell you about that next time.

My application for Permanent Residency in Australia has been submitted, but this means that I’m on a bridging visa until this comes through, and I have to get a whole other visa if I leave the country. That means I’m basically on Aussie lockdown.

Uluru was a bit of a bucket list thing for me, and this was my year of Australia. I’m writing this bit waiting for the coach to pick me up and take us back to the airport, and I do genuinely feel a bit sad. We had a last look at the rock this morning, and I said goodbye to it and thanked it (I know, makes me sound like a crazy person. But I’ve always said goodbye to the sea at the end of a holiday, and houses when I move out of them #personalityquirk ).

But let’s go back a few days to the beginning. We arrived on a Wednesday. I’d been advised and I can pass on, coming here in winter is a good idea. In summer some of these hike locations can get up to 45 degrees, and you’ll need to carry at least 3 litres of water with you. The flies are also ridiculous then. Winter means freezing starts, but nice days, and very few flies.

We started with the field of light. This is 50000 lights out in the desert. An installation by artist Bruce Munro. We watched the sun go down over the desert and drank sparkling wine. As the sun set, the lights came on. This thing is stunning, and unexpected. In a piece of desert, miles from anywhere with the stars above and the lights below.

The following morning involved a 5am start. Eek. Time for something a bit more strenuous. I never wanted to climb Uluru, it always felt a bit disrespectful. But I did want to hike around it. So we could be found at 6.30 in the dark wearing more layers than I thought possible, ready for this hike. It’s about 12km for the total walk, but the going is flat and easy. (Only one toilet break though, so you need a bladder of iron!). I always thought Uluru would be flat and smooth, you then realise you’ve only ever seen in from so far away. This thing is epic in all ways. It has caves, waterfalls and gorges running into it. The whole thing is also flaky, great lumps of oxidised stone are falling off it. It’s so caught up in the stories of the traditional people the “Anangu”. With so many sacred sights associated with it, I don’t have pictures of those as it would be like me coming into your house having a nose around and posting some pics of it on line. So the only pics here are of the non sacred sites. Watching the colour of the rock change as you walk around it and feeling the silence as just our small group of 8 hiked was amazing. At one spot you can touch the rock in one of the caves, on that freezing morning the rock felt warm. We hiked with SEIT tours, a smaller company and if you get the chance hike with Gareth or Monty. It was so cold I started in 4 layers and had pretty numb fingers, but as the sun came up I finished in one and needed sunscreen.

The afternoons were spent lazing around the hotel, catching the winter sun. It’s a tiny resort with a handful of restaurants. My favourite being the puntastic noodle bar, Ayers Wok!

That night we did the sounds of silence dinner. Again they drive you out into the desert and you can watch the sun set with Uluru and Kata Tjuta on the horizon. They do know how to put on a good spread, lots of wine (possibly too much?, nah). While I had a little FaceTime with family from the top of the sand dune, we were called down to dinner. An amazing open air fine dining set up. We ended up at the back of the queue for seating so the last little ragtag group of 8 of us were sat on the last table. Well it worked out perfectly, we were a multinational group from England, Australia and Korea. The wine flowed, the food was amazing and we laughed through the whole thing. The evening ended with a star talk, they turned down all the lanterns and we got to see the Milky Way, the Southern Cross and the pointers. I also got to see the rings of Saturn with the telescope they had set up. So we stumbled back to our bus with promises to visit each other, and an open invitation to a sheep farm in NSW whenever I want.

Another freezing early start the following day, made a little bit harder by the port I’d had with dessert the night before. (Seriously, port. Who am I?). We headed on the longer trip out to Kata Tjuta. Stopping to have some breakfast and watch another sunrise. The lack of pollution and sheer size of the sky out here means you never tire of these.

Then onwards for another hike. The whole bus hiked up to the first look out. Then we split in to two groups. One lot went back to the bus and drove on to a nice easy walk through a gorge. But 6 of us slightly more intrepid souls headed on to the next look out.

We walked along creek beds, climbed up rock faces and were rewarded with this view.

My knees are killing me, but it was totally worth it.

We spent our final night in the resort, barbecuing our own dinner and listening to live music in the pub.

So that’s it. Another thing crossed off the list. Even with the red sand still on my shoes on the plane I would love to come again. But even if I don’t make it I feel so lucky that I was able to experience this place. It really is magical.

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