Friday, 7 August 2009

G'day 2

View of Ayers Rock from the 'lookout' near the hotel. Sun just going down.

As I have a little time before breakfast this morning (Saturday) I thought that I might add a few words to yesterday's blog.

We were up early yesterday in order to get off to Adelaide airport. Out nephew kindly drove us out to the airport where we caught a Boeing 737 to Alice Springs. The route took us up over the Gulf of St Vincent, across the Yorke Peninsula and up into the heart of Australia. As it's winter down here it's also the dry season and the sky is really clear.

I wasn't prepared for what I saw next.

As soon as we were back over the mainland the landscape changed from greenery to endless miles of dried-up lake beds, covered in white salt. These were interlinked by an intricate network of dried up rivers. The Woomera test range is in this area and we passed nearly overhead of the station. Beyond Woomera the vast Lake Ayre dried up lake lay off to the right and just out of our sight from the right hand side of the plane. The pilot told us it was there!

Two hours after take off and still pretty much following the Stuart Highway and the Ghan railroad line we approached the Alice Springs area. Instead of the previous flat landscape there were now low mountain ranges ahead. These are the MacDonnell Ranges and they lie between the Simpson desert and the Tanami desert. Alice Springs lies in a bowl in the ranges and the area is rather hilly.

Alice Springs airport was, again, a surprise. No tin shed on a red dirt strip, but instead it is a modern airport, about the size of Norwich airport, well equipped, with a nice terminal building, lots of facilities and a good bar!

Another two hours and we were on our way again. This time in a Boeing 717 jet to cover the 400km from Alice to Yulara.

As we approached Yulara Ayers Rock (the aircrew and Alice airport departure boards still call it Ayers rock) there was no mistaking that large, red, monolith. It is easy to see why it seems to have magical properties for both the Aboriginals and the white settlers.

Yulara is a small 'town' that has grown up around the desert resort complex, mid way between Ayers Rock and the Olgas and to the north of them. The desert resort comprises a group of 'hotels' ranging from camp grounds to full 5 star hotels. We are staying at the Voyagers Desert Sails hotel. The town centre (really just a typical small collection of single story shops grouped around a rather nice town 'square').

Yulara airport was also a surprise. It would give many UK regional airports a run for their money in terms of facilities and layout. Single story, red tin roof (maybe?) and completely harmonious with the surrounding desert.

The large coach that took us to our hotel, which is located about 5km from the airport, is equipped with the most enormous HF vertical whip antenna right on the front nose of the vehicle. I didn't see the HF radio, but I will be looking next trip out. It seems all the vehicles here have similar HF set-ups.

The resort is served by microwave links from the Alice Springs direction. My FiFi connection for the netbook is by WiFi 'kiosk' for wich I have had to purchase a 25AUD voucher that lasts 24 hours (elapsed time) so that's enough to see me through until Monday when we leave for King's Canyon.

Sunset at Ayers Rock was spectacular. The changing colours really lived up to their reputation.

Later today we are off to the Olgas for a long trek followed by a desert Barbie at sunset.

More anon.

1 comment:

  1. You have set yourself an interesting standard for subsequent birthdays for Shirley!! You could tell her that next year it is the queue outside the Colchester Rally..........

    If that Oz lot mention cricket and the Test Match then tell them that JohnW and I devised the 'subtle' approach of lulling the Aussies into believing that they can win the 4th AND 5th Test Matches. Unfortunately it was too subtle and the England cricketers seem to believe us too!!!

    Must be time for a bit of radio soon??

    Continue to enjoy yourselves...