Friday, 6 March 2009

Why Does It Always Rain On Me?

Moving on from Cairns we took a 3 hour flight to Ayers Rock or Uluru to call it by its Aboriginal name (which is something you should definitely do). The landscape changed dramatically en-route as we left behind the northern rainforests and passed over an ever changing landscape of bush, salt flats and finally red desert.

When we got off the plane we were hit with a tremendous blast of heat - it was like opening the oven door to check on your Yorkshire Puddings (don't do that - you'll ruin them!). We found out later that it was 41 degrees and unseasonably cold for the time of year!

Our itinerary for this entire trip has been extremely efficiently planned out (I can't take any credit for that). I wouldn't say that our schedule is tight, but it's certainly snug and, with an unfortunate delay in our flight, we had just 15 minutes to check into the hotel, find our room, get changed and be picked up for the first of 3 trips that we were making in our less than 24 hour

We'd been advised to purchase fly-nets - like Bee-Keeper's headgear, and at fifteen dollars for two I can honestly say I've never spent money so wisely. I thought the flies could get irritating in our suburbarn garden in West Yorkshire. This is a different world! We were told it's the worst it's been in five years, fly wise... the one crumb of comfort.. they're one of the few things in this country which isn't poisonous!

The first trip took us on a short drive to see the Olgas or Kata Tjuta (again, its Aboriginal name, again, the right-on thing to call it). I had no idea these existed, I just thought we were coming to see Uluru, but if anything, these are more spectacular. There are 36 "domes" (great big lumps of red mountain) and we took a short walk in the baking heat through a gap between a couple of them.

The next day we visited Uluru itself (setting off at 5:45am - when it was still warm enough to fry eggs). We watched the sun rise and light up the huge iconic rock in a pink glow.

A short while later, the clouds gathered. It hasn't rained here for months, our guide informed us. Well now it had. It lashed it down and Uluru shimmered like silver. Then the waterfalls started, as the rain decided it had enough of sitting on the top and began to pour down channels in the sides. It was all very spectacular and, by the sound of it, quite unusual to see.

Now we have past form on this. When we visited the Sahara desert and rode camels out into the sand dunes, it rained. And on our visit to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan (again, not a place you'd usually take an umbrella) we experienced flash floods and had to be rescued by guys in army jeeps. So while everyone else says "wow, I can't believe we've come to the desert and it's raining!", we're starting to think "it might be our fault".

Travel tip number 3. If you do take delicate electronic devices (such as digital cameras) out into the desert, and it rains, try to keep them dry no matter how spectacular the waterfalls look. Otherwise you might end up with a camera stuck on the same exposure and zoom settings which can only take one photo between each "reboot".

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