A Travellerspoint blog


No TV and no beer makes James go something, something

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The alarm went off at 6am today, that was painful... The reason for the early start was that most of the day was going to be taken up with the drive to Kings Canyon. First stop of the day was at Kathleen Springs (Alice's little sister?) for a walk in the Outback.

Instead of a town, it had been a cattle stock yard in the pioneer days; I'm not sure if it is still used at all, it certainly didn't look that way. At the end of the walk was a waterhole, which is used by wallabies, dingoes and other animals at night to drink. Afterwards, it was off to Kings Canyon.
Kings Canyon itself has 2 available walks: the 1 hour canyon base walk or the 3-4 hour crest walk. In 40° heat, it's not hard to guess which one we did :) Nevertheless, the views were impressive and we took a fair few photos.

I had imagined that Kings Canyon resort would be like Ayers Rock resort with plenty of (overpriced) facilities. Things didn't get off to a good start when we found out the only pub in town would be closed for the next 2 weeks because the air conditioning unit was broken. No problems we thought, we'll head to the hotel bar; they didn't open for another couple of hours - a drastic emergency as I was gasping for something other than water warm enough to make a cup of tea. In desperation, we went to the petrol station where I bought a can of Fanta that I downed in less than 30 seconds. It's thirsty work driving for 5 hours in the desert.
The rest of the day was spent hanging out at the pool (would you expect anything else by now?) and just lazing around. Got a biggee tomorrow...

Posted by jefranklin 16:30 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking round_the_world Comments (0)

Oh my head hurts

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What a way to wake up: we got to bed at 4am after consuming a rather hefty amount of alcohol only to be woken up at 10am by one of the resort staff belting on the door demanding to know where our Japanese roomates were, as they were supposed to check out. We explained that we didn't know as they had already left.
Unable to get back to sleep, we decided to head off to the Olgas, which is the other major land feature in the same National park as Ayers Rock.The Olgas has a 1 hour and a 3 hour return walk that takes you through the highlights of it. We lasted about 20 minutes before the combination of a hangover and the persistent flies made it too unpleasant an experience to appreciate, so we threw in the towel and headed back to the resort, and more specifically the pool, to allow the noise from the pneumatic drills inside our heads to subside.
In the evening, we watched the sun set for the last time (for us) over Ayers Rock. I had planned to do a stop-frame recording of the sunset (as I had done in Santorini) but we were a bit late in arriving, which made it not worthwhile.After this, we pulled up stumps and headed back to our room. Not a big day today, for obvious reasons.

Posted by jefranklin 16:20 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking round_the_world Comments (0)

Sounds of Silence and 3 goals going in

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Today started with the alarm clock going off at 6am. My normal behavior is to keep hitting the snooze button, but as we were sharing a place, we thought it was politic to get up.The plan was to get up and watch the sun rise over Uluru. However it was absolutely p*ssing down, so we chucked that plan. Instead we decided to spend the extra time doing mundane stuff like breakfast and after that we headed to the rock.

We arrived at the rock but the main climb over it was closed, which was fortunate as I didn't want to do it out of respect of the Anunga (the local Aboriginal tribe) customs. Instead we did the 10km walk around the base of the rock. The walk wasn't challenging as it was pretty flat, but it gave us the opportunity to see Uluru from a number of amazing angles. Uluru/Ayers Rock is something that cannot be described - we have all seen pictures in various media, but until you experience it in person, it is something that cannot be fully described in either the written word or in picture form.

In the evening, we did the Sounds of Silence tour. As previously mentioned, this is probably the most expensive part of our 6 month holiday but we were really fortunate that the weather worked in our favour. The skies were clear and the air was warm: To look up and see the Milky Way, plus thousands of other stars is just mind-blowing. Sadly, none of the pictures I took were able to convey the beauty, despite my best efforts. A trip to Ayers Rock is worth it for this night alone (especially if you are a star spotter).
Sunset over the Olgas

Sunset over the Olgas

Having done that, we came back to the hotel we are staying at and crashed in the lounge room where the only TV is. Apparently, there is some Australia vs. Bahrain football game later. Until then, I have to sit through the Winter Olympics featuring Australia plus whatever nation they are beating (which isn't that many, but probably still more than the UK). Slightly one-sided coverage here.
Well, we watched the Australia game. Apparently the resort didn't have a license to allow us to consume alcoholic beverages on the premises after 11pm. Bit of a bugger when the game kicks off at 1am. Never to be deterred by anything so petty as rules, we smuggled in a bottle of port, which we took swigs from when there was no security staff around. We don't have a drink problem ;)

Posted by jefranklin 16:05 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking round_the_world Comments (0)

Littles B******s!

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This morning, we checked out of the YHA and headed for Uluru/Ayers Rock. Over the last couple of weeks, I had been checking weather reports for the red centre, and to be honest I was a little wary of the temperatures I was seeing: up to 45 degrees. However the temperature was a more manageable 29 degrees, according to the car's external temperature gauge. The reason for this is that it was raining! I don't mind the odd drop of rain, but throwing it down in the middle of the desert is just taking the mickey. We have the Sounds of Silence tour booked for tomorrow night and I will be mightily miffed if it is raining or cloudy as it is our most expensive outlay so far, and its highlight is gazing at the clear starry skies. Here's hoping...
With rain comes another problem: flies and more annoyingly, millions upon millions of the persistent little **#*#@! There were enough to motivate us to go out and buy nets to keep them off us. All our photos from the red centre, now have us wearing these daft look things. The rest of the day was spent driving from Alice to Uluru, stopping off occasionally at tourist attractions and filling up ($1.60 per litre, ouch!)
The major attraction that we stopped at was a meteorite crater about 2 hours out of Alice and on 15kms of unsealed road (give the 4WD a workout :). Due to the aforementioned flies, we only spent about half an hour there, but it was enough to be impressed not only by the crater but the vastness of the surrounding desert. It is really hard to comprehend for someone living in suburbia but all I can say is that I wouldn't want to breakdown out there.
Having arrived at Ayers Rock, we checked ourselves in and had just enough time to see the sun set over the Olgas, very nice and kind of reminiscent of Santorini.

Posted by jefranklin 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking round_the_world Comments (0)

A long and painful 20 hours

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Today we had a few days to kill before we got on the Ghan, so we decided to check out Casanova at the movies (actually, Heather decided it would be Casanova - I wanted to see Jarhead). I guess the movie was ok if you like romantic comedies, about 4 out of 10.
Eventually we boarded the Ghan. The train itself was an experience; during our China holiday in 2004, we experienced soft sleeper class, I guess we have now experienced hard seating (look in blog archives for a reminder).Unfortunately, we had to experience it for 20 hours. The staff however were friendly and provided a decent service. We did have someone in front of us that snored loudly for 18 of the 20 hours, making it impossible for us to sleep. All in all, the Ghan in cattle class is not something I would want to repeat. Hmm, we've got our trip from Alice to Darwin next week...
Alice Springs itself isn't too bad. We went to a pub called Bojangles, which must have been targetting tourists because the beers were $5 each and the food was approaching Sydney prices, so we had just the one there and moved on to an English theme pub. Maybe they don't get many English backpackers in Alice Springs, because out of the dozen beers, 10 were Australian, one was Harp (Irish) and the other was Newcastle Brown (which I'll let them have). There was I hoping for Old Speckled Hen :(
Finally, we decided to pull up stumps and head back to the YHA where we were staying, stopping off en-route for a cheap pizza. Time to sleep...

Posted by jefranklin 16:00 Archived in Australia Tagged trains backpacking round_the_world Comments (0)

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