The Red Centre: riding a camel

 

from July 5

Today we started the next leg of our journey, around the “Red Centre.” We stopped off first for a short camel ride, which was quite entertaining. Camels don’t seem to listen very well. And apparently they bite. Here’s a tourist spiel for you: Camels aren’t native to Australia but were brought over to help early explorers navigate the interior with its dry climate. They didn’t quite work out the way the explorers wanted to, but today camels still appear in the wild.

We had two guides for this leg of the trip, a trainee and a seasoned guide. They decided it would be fun to play a few jokes on us, including pointing out a huge rock formation as Uluru, when it fact it was just another mountain. I remember thinking, it’s not THAT impressive. What a dolt I felt like when I realised it was actually Mount Connor.

I was surprised in that I thought the outback was a true desert, but it’s actually a semi-arid zone, and there’s a lot more bush than I would have thought. Australia’s interior is finally seeing the end of a 10-year drought.

When we stopped to gather firewood for the campfire tonight, I let the group get the better of me and started to feel frustrated. People just haven’t been helping out, and it’s been the theme of the past week, when it comes to cooking, washing dishes, setting up camp – even gathering firewood. I’m growing tired of it because if people don’t want to help they should have booked onto a luxury tour. So that’s my rant for the day.

Moving on…once we were in sight of the rock, it was quite impressive, and I’m looking forward to seeing it up close. More on that tomorrow.

This afternoon we visited Kata Juta, another set of rock formations that’s less famous than Uluru but comparably unique. The two formations are entirely different and made in entirely different ways, according to the brief geology lesson the guide gave us, complete with stick drawings in the dirt. We did part of a walk around Kata Juta, called Valley of the Winds, but we didn’t have time to do the whole thing because we wanted to watch the sun set behind Uluru.

Here’s another tourist spiel for you: Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is the result of pressure that caused the rock to snap in half, and one half flipped on its side and protruded from the earth. So the vertical ridges are actually meant to be horizontal sedimentary layers, which makes the rock even more impressive.

The sunset was a bit lame because of the cloud cover, but I am already much more impressed with this leg of the trip. Tonight I think I will try sleeping outside in a swag (an Australian bedroll).

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