Yesterday we flew from Perth into Ayers Rock and then drove down to Alice Springs.
Ayers Rock is the big red rock you see in movies when they want to show the outback. We had planned on spending about an hour at the rock — I mean, it’s just a rock — and then driving over to Alice Springs.
When we got there, they wanted 25 bucks a person to visit the rock. Thanks but no thanks. The lady at the entrance was very friendly “But you’ve come all this way! It’d be a shame not to go in!”
I told her they had a really nice rock, but it looked pretty good from the roadside. I’m not sure it was going to get 50 dollars better up close.
What can I say? It’s a big red rock
The drive to Alice Springs was, well, interesting. All the Aussies drive on the wrong side of the road, and there’s just a lot of nothing between Ayers Rock and Alice Springs. When I say “nothing” I mean nothing. About 300 miles of desert. Maybe 3 places for gas. A few rest stops and overlooks. The speed limit was about 80mph, and you’d see a car coming the other way every ten or fifteen minutes or so. And this highway was a well developed road with lots of traffic!
We passed Mount Conner, which I found to be a much more interesting large red rock than Ayers Rock. Mount Conner, Ayers Rock, and another rock formation are called the main things to see in central Australia. I didn’t get a picture of the other rock formation, although we saw it. At the time we didn’t realize it was such a big deal.
What can I say? It’s another big red rock
We passed a “road train” a couple of times, which I understood to be a tractor-trailer. But the term “road train” really conveys it: these are tractors with several trailers hooked in tow, just like a big tractor-trailer train that moves along the road. God only knows how they turn or back up those things. The first one we passed looked like five tanker cars all strung together.
We also passed a turnoff to go see a metorite crater, supposedly a huge impact area — one of the largest existing craters on earth. But it was getting dark, and the road was not paved. Call me chicken, but I didn’t want to be driving 15 miles through the desert on an unmarked road in a strange country where there there wasn’t any help for 100 miles. I’m just that kind of person.
We stopped at a rest area and took a few pictures
It’s easy to say that since there aren’t great pictures that somehow this part of the trip was wasted, but I don’t agree. We’re getting a chance to drive around on our own and see the middle of the country — a place where most weekend tourists never get to go. Walking around Alice Springs this morning we saw a lot of aborigines and got a taste of the local culture.
In fact, this has the feeling of hanging out in somebody’s back yard. And where else is a better place to get to know somebody than in their back yard?
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