Sunday, January 18, 2015

This is Australia - As a Grey Nomand: Part 13: Ayers Rock, The Olgas and Kings Canyon Northern Territory

Another big drive from Coober Pedy to Ayers Rock over 700km’s leaving South Australia and back into the beautiful Northern Territory roads, with open speed limits.  It was funny you went through towns where the signs said slow down to 130kms/hour – that meant we had to speed up 10ks/hour lol.

You drive for so long and don’t see a car, then you get to Erldunda which is a cross roads type place and all of a sudden there are tourist buses, camper vans, motor homes, tents everywhere, this is the place everyone stops before getting to Ayers Rock. We got a great camp site, and of course everyone is excited around you to see The Rock – and we had a look out right behind our site, so it was good to see the sun set here on our first night without needing to get in the car.

Now I have spoken on red dirt in WA, but let me tell you this is the reddest dirt and its everywhere so not for those who don’t like dirt – to be honest I am now use to it, and not quite so anal about it being in the tent thank God, otherwise I would have been driven nuts (so maybe it was a good thing we changed courses months ago).  One of the things I loved about this camp ground was it was the first in all our travels to date that had open fire pits, which was so great to sit around at night with a drink and tell yarns with others – we really enjoyed this every night.  Although it was crowded at this time of the year, the best nice days not too hot and nights while cool, not freezing, so there are people everywhere.

I Climbed Ayers Rock
The next morning we were refreshed and keen to get out and see this place, we bought our 3 day pass and Derek immediately headed off to do the climb (not for the faint hearted let me assure you), and not really appreciated but still allowed.  He made it though and I enjoyed trying – but thought better of it, and talking to all the other peahearts like me that were awaiting a love one to return with their tales of making it.

The view from the top of Ayers Rock

We spent the rest of the day doing the various walks around the base which was beautiful it really is magnificent.  We also went to the proper night viewing area for the sunset – took our drinks and nibbles for a sunset happy hour along with 1000 others, but we got there early and secured a beautiful spot .

Next day The Olgas, they are also just fantastic, and in fact look better I think from a distance than the Ayers Rock.  Another big day of walks, and it was very cold and windy here unlike the day before where it was hot, we are in jumpers and freezing, but the views are spectacular.

The town center here is lovely as well, nice cafes, restaurants, galleries, souvenir shops etc, and Derek also began doing some metal detecting in the camp site – he found heaps here, with all the groups coming in with their swags, lots of money and jewellery being lost – he quickly found $50 plus a few rings and a beautiful opal pendant, couldn’t stop he after that – he was gone for days – I didn’t mind it was nice to sit, relax, read under the views of the area, and there was always someone to talk to as well.

After 5 days here, we finally decided it was time to head off to Kings Canyon – and WOW this is in my books even better than Ayers Rock – it’s a fabulous camp grounds with a 5 star resort and all the trimmings with it, in the middle of nowhere.

Climbing Kings Canyon is hard work though, something like 500 rock steps to get to the top – lots of huffing and puffing from us, but we made it – the rest of the walk isn't as arduous though and the views are to die for, magical in every way – such a lovely day walking up and through this area – make sure you take some water with you, at this time of the year they don’t police this so much, but apparently later in the season you are not even allowed to go up if you are not carrying enough water – it was hot up there. 

Our camp site with a view to Kings Canyon

What I loved about Kings Canyon is it isn't as restricted as Ayers Rock, you are encouraged to walk it, climb it, take it in so at the end of the day it feels like it is significantly more incredible than Ayers Rock as you truly get to experience it – there are good walking paths and steps throughout the entire area but it does take a full day.  For those who don’t have the energy or ability to climb, there are heaps of helicopter flights at reasonable prices (unlike at Ayers Rock), so I think generally people who experience King Canyon feel like its got a lot more to offer.

Once again Derek found heaps at the Kings Canyon camp grounds, in fact enough for us to have a beautiful meal at the resort all paid for in $1 and $2 coins hot off the camp ground (but I did wash them first, but it was funny counting it all out and them saying where did you get all of these from  and us laughing saying just outside).

Some of Dereks finds in Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon

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