And here it is: the last part of the Aussie Road Trip series! At least for now... ;)
Ayers Rock - Uluru
Ayers Rock, or Uluru, is obviously a must on every itinerary! If you’ve made it this far into the red center then you definitely have to see The Rock! You can either take a day trip out to the Kata Tjuta & Uluru National Park or you can over-night there with an organized tour. I opted for the day trip. Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas, is another large red rock formation in the outback which you will visit on these tours.
And then we were finally off to see the big red rock! Ayers Rock/Uluru is a sacred Aboriginal site complete with cave paintings and its own waterfall – when it rains that is! Tourists often climb the rock and the local Aboriginal people refer to the climbers as “ants” because that’s what you look like that high up – like a small critter. I personally decided against the climb out of respect for the Aboriginal people, their land and their culture. Although it is not prohibited to go up, the local Anangu people ask that you respect their sacred site and do not hike up to the top of the rock as the climb has a special meaning to them and a firm place in their tradition. I believe it is really a decision everyone has to make for themselves but personally I was more than happy to walk around the rock and admire it from all angles rather than walking to the top.
By now the weather had gotten worse, the sky was gray and it started to rain. It was still awesome though and our guide told us that only few visitors every year – roughly 1 in 10,000 – see the rock in rain. It’s much easier to get a picture of it in bright sunshine!
Seeing Uluru was really special. We had a picnic not far from it with beautiful views and when the time came to leave we all piled back into the bus. At that precise moment the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds over the Olgas and shone right onto the rock! Our driver got us all out of the bus again shouting “Guys you gotta see this!” – And there it was: Ayers Rock - in bright red, surrounded by a rainbow with a gray sky as backdrop! It was the coolest thing ever!
Back in Alice Springs I joined another backpacker tour down to Adelaide, the final stop of my first Aussie road trip. After a good couple of hours on the bus driving through the red center we arrived in our overnight stop of Coober Pedy.
It’s a fascinating place and a real little gem (pun intended!). Mainly famous for the beautiful opal mined here, most of the town is actually located underground. Whole apartments have been built into the old mines that are no longer in use. It makes sense considering that temperatures here can easily reach 45C/113F and the old shafts are cool and well ventilated. We joined a guided tour to learn about opal mining and to check out some model flats built underground – complete with furniture and all. People really do live down here! There’s even an underground church you can visit. You just hop across the street, enter above earth (note the sand and rock on its roof!) and the further you go in, the further you actually go down!
Our accommodation was build into a giant hill and rooms were literally carved out of the stone. There is an above-ground main street with a couple of shops, restaurants and a service station as well though. Otherwise it would be totally possible to drive through Coober Pedy barely even noticing it was there.
After having spent the night in our own “cave” we were on our way down south, slowly leaving the outback behind us and getting closer to the buzz of the big cities again. My trip was nearing its end as I only had a few more days left before heading back to Brisbane and doing some grown-up stuff like looking for apartments & finding a temp job to make enough money for my next road trip... but not before I had thoroughly checked out Adelaide in South Australia!
So, I hope you enjoyed this road trip series and maybe it inspires you to go walkabout in Australia yourself some day! :)