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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 191-196 – Australia – The Red Centre

We arrived in Alice Springs late afternoon & jumped on the airport shuttle to Annie’s Place, our hostel for the first night. In terms of a hangout the beer was relatively cheap and they put on a cheap evening meal that we took advantage of. In terms of a place to bed down a dorm is a dorm but this was probably one of the more basic and congested spots and it didn’t help that our room held more than its fair share of drunk inconsiderates keen on bringing the party back.

The next morning we taxied over to the rental place and got ourselves a nearly new diesel Hiace Hi Top with a manual gearbox which was ideal for our little road trip. We swung over for supplies where we met a young girl travelling the area on her own with a Wicked campervan. Wicked knock out vans with cool custom paint jobs that have a bit of a reputation for being death traps. She’d had a bit of trouble with this one and even had it replaced once I think – she was quick to point out the perils of the un-surfaced roads in the area.

We set off aware of the long journey ahead. We’d earmarked a spot to stop that would leave us about an hour away from Uluru. To say the journey was uneventful would be an understatement. There is nothing there – a stunning wide flat expanse of nothing. While uneventful it was no less cool.

By late afternoon we’d reached the somewhat uninspiring camp site we’d lined up and decided to push on for the purpose-built village of Yulara figuring the closer the better. We reached our destination just after sunset and after making arrangements to stay for at least a couple of nights decided to nip over to the facilities for some beer.

And then we saw it was $50 for a six-pack.

At the time at least that was roughly £35.

I think a little part of me died that night.

Needless to say there was no drinking on the cards for our time there. We settled in and got some rest ready for an early start.

We got up pre-dawn and got straight on the road. Uluru had been pretty high on my list since long before the trip was even conceived so we were committed to making the most of our short time there. That first morning sunrise with Ayers Rock was pretty incredible. The weather was stable enough for us to enjoy the full red glory s the sun came up.

That day we decided to do the full base-walk circuit and as we were completing it early afternoon the weather was closing in. It proved a bit of luck that we’d pushed on and had the early start as from then on the Red Centre was treated to a rare visitor – rain.

On the other hand this made for a view of the big rock that few are afforded – that of waterfalls cascading down its many crevices. As well as spending two sunsets and another sunrise at Uluru (with pretty ropey photos – you decide) we took in and took a walk around Kata Tjuta too, the weather making it cooler and thus substantially easier than I imagine a midsummer hike would be.

We left on the Monday afternoon and made for the campsite we’d eschewed on our way down. Back in something like the real world it was only fair for us to treat ourselves to a six’er while we barbequed up what was left of the contents of the van fridge.

The next day we were in Alice for a late lunch and to tidy the van up before the drop off. As we left the car park in a taxi on our way to the airport in came another campervan on the back of a truck having obviously rolled a few times. We took a photo and briefly considered a tweet hoax before we decided that someone actually had gone through that and it’d be a tad insensitive.

Within a few hours we’d had a beer in the airport lounge and were on our way to Cairns to once again re-join Rob & Gilly for the big tour and the only crossover we’d actually aimed for before departing – The East Coast Road Trip.