…FYI, it was cold and I kinda wish I’d hired the sleeping bag… I did manage to sleep, but woke up around 3am freezing cold. Had to dig out the hiking socks and my shirt to try and warm up. At least the night sky was incredible to watch while I shivered myself awake.
Thankfully, we were meant to be getting up around 4:30 anyway, so I didn’t have to suffer long – one quick shower later and we were on the road back to the lookout, where we had breakfast with the sun rising over Uluru, before heading off to the other rock structure in the park, Kata Tjuta.
Not as well known as Uluru, but often considered the better of the two, Kata Tjuta is a collection of rock formations collected in a single area – the rocks are said to represent heads of deceased Aboriginal elders, and young boys were brought here to learn how to hunt. Unlike Uluru, you can walk in between these rocks and enter the Valley of the Winds (which earns its nickname, trust me) and check out the views from the higher points. The only issue was the time – due to the heat you have to start a lot of walks early, and we had the sun in our eyes for most of the things we were seeing.
Although everyone else said they loved Kata Tjuta over Uluru, I personally thought Uluru was more interesting. Kata Tjuta, with the exception of the red rock colour, had landscape rather similar to home and seemed at little less impressive.
We were back in the bus after this, and heading 500km back the way we came, passing Mount Conner once again and stopping to have lunch at the lookout. People were meant to help out and cut up veg, and I was completely blindsided when I realised there were people who have NO IDEA how to cut a tomato or a pepper. Seriously, they were a mess – to the point that Mark just took over!
Beth and I did a little exploring after eating, and discovered a giant salt flat on the other side of the road’s hill. No idea what it was or what it was called, but it was eerie to see.
Finally, after pretty much a full afternoon in the bus, we make it to the campground we’ll be spending the night at before King’s Canyon. It thankfully has a swimming pool, so everyone who remembered to bring swimming gear (a surprisingly small number) went diving in. After hiking and a day in the hot car, swimming was just the thing to cool me off before dinner.
Since we weren’t going anywhere this evening, the meal was a lot more fancy. We had chilli con carne, along with some vegetables cooked in a Mediterranean spice mix, followed by a cold cooked apple crumble baked in the fire and ash of the campfire.
Sadly, it wasn’t a completely great night. We’d more or less been out of the loop via phones, but some of the French girls on the trip got updates on the Paris attacks that evening, and most of us spent several hours trying to get signal or WiFi to get updates. I had more luck than most as the campground had Roaming Wifi, and I still had several hundred MB left from the Oasis. Ended up donating it to a few girls that evening though.
Sadly, when it was time to turn in, I realised my swag wasn’t going to be nearly as comfy as it had been yesterday. I’d ended up with one that was utterly filled with dirt. No matter how much I tried to dust it off or shake it out, I just kept finding more. All I could do cover myself and hope that once I nodded off it wouldn’t matter.