My sunburnt country
Even though we could sleep in until 7am, my insomnia kicked in once again and I woke at 4. It was far too cold to venture out from under my 2 doonas so I lay awake until I heard movement in camp indicating that breakfast was ready. The Irish ladies are very entertaining, even in the mornings, but the American girls voice continues to grate like fingernails down a chalkboard.
After brekkie we drove to the base of the canyon. The walk itself is 5.5kms along the rim - the first 250 steps being straight up. In 1989 we had to scramble over raw ground - nowadays they have built proper stairs from concrete and available rocks. It now has a proper carpark and notice boards with marked tracks and signposts.
It was a slow climb but once at the top it is mostly flat. Clark was an excellent guide explaining all about the formations, plants, geology, geography and botany. It was just as stunning as I remembered but there were just hundreds more people than last time. Most behaved respectfully but some, like our own Miss Yakety Yak, just talked, screamed, yelled and generally made a nuisance of themselves.
I was so disappointed to see that an area called Liliput had been almost completely destroyed by ignorant bastards smashing up the rocks. Perhaps it would have been better if they hadn't sealed the roads but then that tourism isn't it.
After 3 hours on top, my bladder was bursting and my knees had turned to jelly. The BOSS had to act as my living crutch for most of the descent - luckily not nearly as steep as the ascent.
It was a magical day and it is just as powerfully moving the second time around.
We lunched back at the resort then headed off around the Mereenie Loop Road - a 100km dirt track to Glen Helen. Although the track was relatively flat, it was dreadfully corrugated. After 3 hours it felt like a full body massage - if you consider being pummeled by a Sumo wrestler to be a massage.
When we finally arrived at Glen Helen Resort at 5pm, the group split up and half went back to Alice Springs including all the Irish guys. The rest of us (including to my bitter disappointment Miss Yakety Yak) were booked into the bungalows. Visions of proper rooms with proper showers were quickly dispelled when we were shown our dorm room - 5 women crammed into one tiny room with the showers at the end of the block. As I have frequently said - I am SO OVER dorm rooms. We would have been better off in tents - at least it would have been private. The idea of being enclosed in close quarters with Miss YY for even one night was more than I could bare. I rectified the situation by asking the lady at reception for an upgrade. To my great surprise and delight she simply gave us a spare room - gratis. The showers were however a huge disappointment - only one step up from the atrocious ones at Victoria River. These ones alternated between freezing and boiling dribble with a drain that didn't work, thus flooding the entire floor. In the end I was beyond caring. They were wet and I managed to wash away the last 3 days of grime and bulldust. I even found a clean set of clothes to wear.
As there was now only 8 of us, and we had lost Natalie, we had to cook for ourselves in the open kitchen. Too many cooks were crammed in so I retired to the bar to write and to my delight, the jukebox was playing the best of the 70's and 80's mostly Australian bands. I just sat and absorbed the fabulous atmosphere - topping off a perfect day.