It's a mighty big rock!
A fantastic night's sleep - warm and cosy. I was woken again at 4am by the campers next door packing up and then Clark roused us at 5am so that we could do a sunrise walk around the base of the Rock.
It was freezing!!! It remained freezing for the entire 7.2km walk. Yes 7.2kms, the first 2kms in the dark then after a spectacular sunrise, the next 5kms in shadow. The saving grace was that the entire track is flat and I was able to set a cracking pace and not strain my knees. After 2 hours we made it back to where the climbers start. I am surprised at how many people still climb the Rock. 18 years ago, I climbed it - I was a semi-fit 20 something with good knees and the Rock had not passed back to aboriginal hands. There are now signs explaining why it is sacred and why the Aboriginal people would really prefer if tourists didn't tramp all over their sacred site but people walk blindly past the signs to begin their ascent, cameras in hand. The climb is steep and hard and long - assisted by a few hundred metres of chain up the steepest bits. I wonder how many tourists would bother climbing if it weren't made so damn easy for them?
We had a visit to the Cultural Centre which serves the worst coffee in NT, then another short walk, then back to camp for lunch. Natalie had produced a lovely hot lunch of chicken wings and sausages with some very nice salads - what a nice change from sandwiches every day. We left Uluru after lunch and headed off towards Kings Canyon with a brief stop at Mt Connor and a short walk up Kathleen Gorge, arriving at another very posh campsite just as the sun was setting.
As we exited the National Park, our guide Clark announced that every tree from now on would be a lava tree. The BOSS looked at me blankly and said - "they're not all lava trees, that one's a gum".
"Lava tree darling, lavatory"
Dinner was once again a fantastic Natalie creation. I think Adventure Tours should have cooks on all their tours, it has been such a pleasure and a time saver. Every cup of coffee on this trip I have been able to finish in peace without being rushed away to get on a bus. After dinner we sat around the open fire and Clark cooked kangaroo tail for us. I don't think it was cooked for long enough as the tendon was so chewy and the "meat" was almost non-existant. It was not as cold as Uluru but we still had to rug up in coats, scarves and beanies.
Clark said we could sleep in until 7am as we couldn't climb the canyon until daylight anyway. I have waited 18 years to revisit Kings Canyon. I was so impressed with it the first time - back then there was no resort, no toilets or showers, no established walking track, no sealed roads - only dirt 4WD track and bush camping.
If readers have not seen the movie Priscilla Queen of the Desert then they should rush out and watch it right now. It is an Aussie classic and will give you a good insight into the Australia psyche and sense of humour.