Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ayers Rock

Aborigines? Some are whiter than White Aussies!

How not to laugh all the way to the bank - the rate for this modest hotel is more than AUD300 per night!

In front of the Holy Rock
Ayers Rock is said to be one of the great natural icons of Australia. Running out of ideas to take our two grand kids for this winter's two-week school break in Melbourne, my wife and I decided to do a five-day, four-night visit to Uluru, which geographically is almost the bull-eye of the Australian continent. Temperature in winter ranges from -2 to 22!

The Jetstar flight was full and like all budget airlines, the legroom is tight, even for an average Asian like me. The Caucasian sitting next to me had to keeping shifting himself to feel at ease. It was a 2-1/2 hour ordeal!

There are only three hotels in Uluru. The room was most spartan; everything was quite basic, yet, we had to pay something like A$300 per day per room! There is only restaurant in our hotel; again it is nothing fanciful, yet there is a need to book. There are two other outlets, one a take-away do and the other, a BBQ yard where meat is the only choice!

There is a "town centre", which is nothing more than a square with a restaurant, a cafe, a take-away noodle wok, a mini market, a couple of shops for souvenirs and aboriginal art and an open "theatre" for visitors to enjoy (and take part in - if you are game) the aborigines' traditional dances, which mimicked animals like emu, kangaroo, iguana, etc. At night, a long queue to patronise the restaurant prompted us to settle for the wok, where three adults could possibly share a single order - thanks to the palatability, or the lack of it, of its food. All visitors can make use of a shuttle which plies the loop which the whole Uluru is built- maybe around two kilometres or so.

Oh, we flew 2,500 km to see the great rock; surely we must make the best out of the visit! We had to leave early to experience the sunrise, followed by a walk around he perimeter of Ayers Rock. The tour guide talked about the legends of Koniya, Liru and Langatha (the human form of their legendary non-poisonous snake, the venomous snake and the blue tongue lizard respectively) - all so awe-inspiring and sacred to the local tribes. To me, this basically explains the inertia behind the Darwinian trap even though these people ware said to be amongst the first to leave Africa some 40 or 50 millennia ago. And most surprisingly, not a single aborigine could be sighted in this heartland of theirs.

The only consolation was Camel on the Sunset. It was well organised and my grand kids, who usually prefer their iPads to wildlife, were pretty satisfied with the ride.

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