Monthly Archives: July 2011

Swaggin’ Under the Stars

“Are you swaggin’ it tonight?” That’s the real question, isn’t it? After we left Marla and got to our camp near Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, I decided to bite the bullet and swag it.

A swag is an Aussie sleeping bag for your sleeping bag. It’s made of a vinyl or plastic that’s waterproof and has a thin mattress-type pillow inside. You unzip it and tuck your regular sleeping bag into it, then you zip them both up. It keeps you both warm and dry.

Permanent Tents

Permanent Tents

With mice running around and spiders creeping in the dark, swags were actually a better choice than the permanent tents because we’d lie right out in the open. We usually got to our campsite late and couldn’t do a thorough inspection of the tent to rid it of any temporary residents because it was dark. The tents didn’t have any light in them and a flashlight can only do so much. Setting up fresh bedding near the fire was better than sleeping in a tent that hadn’t been used by anyone for who knows how long.

Tent Interior

Tent Interior

Swaggin’ it was one of the best things I’ve done so far on this trip. Lying down next to new friends beside a blazing fire and looking at the stars was amazing. Even when it was cold and we had our heads wrapped in a hood, hat or scarf, it was still great.

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Uluru – Walk Around the Rock

After watching an awesome sunrise, we headed to Uluru to walk halfway around the base. Up close, Uluru was massive and its color was extremely vibrant. Perhaps all those postcards I’d seen didn’t use Photoshop after all?

As we walked around the base, several other people joined us. I think they must’ve been another Adventure Tours group. Along the trail, there were certain areas with signs posted forbidding photography of sacred Anangu areas. I found this a little ineffective, but what else could they do? There weren’t any security guards and I assume there were no hidden cameras, so it was a personal choice whether to listen to the signs or not.

The walk around the base was flat but a layer of small red rocks covered the ground making it hard to get a grip. Your feet would slide out or sink so it was actually a good morning workout trying to keep your balance.

As we completed the route, we got to the area that was the beginning of the Uluru climb. It was open now despite being closed due to high winds an hour ago. Many people from around the world come specifically to do the Uluru climb, like Mel from England and Christina from Germany who were on my tour. The local Aboriginal people, the Anangu, discourage the walk because Uluru is sacred to them. Again, it’s a personal choice whether or not you do the climb.

Now that it was open, Mel and Christina wanted to hike up Uluru. Jason wouldn’t let them because he said we didn’t have the time. Instead, they joined us for a guided walk with an Anangu man and an interpreter.

Personally, I wouldn’t have done the climb out of respect for the Anangu culture (and because the route was extremely steep and people have died falling from it). But, I think Jason should have allowed Mel and Christina to hike at least part of the way while we did the cultural walk. Climbing Uluru would’ve meant more to them than going on the guided tour.

On the tour, an Anangu man spoke to us in his language and was very succinctly. Then, the Aussie interpreter would translate what he said and speak forever about Uluru and the Anangu culture. It was as if the native man was just a showpiece to impress the tourists. It was really disgusting.

The Anangu man only spoke in his language, but it was clear he understood English when people asked questions. However, the interpreter would go through the charade of translating the question into the native language and wait for a response. For all we knew, they were talking about rugby teams or a popular TV show.

Slide Album: Uluru Base Walk

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Sunrise and Sunset at Uluru

Many people make the trek to Uluru to see the incredible sunrise or sunset and how it changes the color of the rock. Unfortunately, it was cloudy the day we went so nothing magnificent or earth shattering happened.

But there’s always a silver lining to every story.

Even though Uluru didn’t light up, the skies above us did. The sunrise created spectacular yellows, golds, pinks and oranges on the clouds. I’d never seen anything like it before.

It must have been because the sky is so huge in Australia’s Outback. There’s just so much of it. They should call this big sky country instead of Montana. Although, who knows? Maybe sunrises in Montana are just as amazing.

Slide Album: Uluru

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