After flying over nothing for hours, we eventually spotted civilisation amongst the red dirt. Being situated 1530km from Adelaide, its nearest major city, and pretty much smack bang in the middle of Australia, it's easy to see why few travellers make the epic pilgrimage to see Uluru (formally known as Ayers Rock). However, seeing as we failed to make it to the Northern Territory in 2008, we decided it was a journey we had to make this time.
According to our trusted Lonely Planet, Anzac Hill is the best place to get a great view of Alice. They were right - at the top you can see for literally hundreds of miles. It's insane to look in every direction and see nothing but dust and the odd tree. Once at the summit we could see just how small Alice Springs really is (it has an estimated population of just 26000).
Whilst waiting for the sun to go down we spotted a cute little wallaby. He didn't seem remotely scared of us, and Dan was able to get pretty close as he was nibbling on a tree.
The following day we were picked up bright and early from our accommodation, as we were off on a three day tour to see Uluru. Most people tend to think of Alice Springs and Uluru as being pretty near to each other. In fact, it is a good five hour drive to get into the 'real' outback, where Uluru is situated.
On our first pit stop, once the sun had come up, we were able to get a good look at the swags that were to be our beds for the next two nights. It was hard to believe that the small bundle of cloth was all that would protect us from potential snakes, spiders and dingoes!! Scary stuff.
Honestly, you would think we were about to watch an eclipse. The number of people (around 400!!) that turn up every day to watch the changing colours over the rock is absolutely staggering. One of the resorts offers a champagne supper for its guests. It seemed utterly ridiculous watching the waiters setting tables and chairs in the middle of the desert. I wonder what the aborigines make of all this. I can't imagine it sits well at all.
By now the whole group was getting on really well. A few people had gone to the shop to buy marshmallows, so we all had fun toasting them over the bonfire.
After seeing a mouse run round the camp and people telling stories about how many dingoes live in the area, unsurprisingly I didn't sleep quite so well the second night and was pretty bleary-eyed when the wake-up call came at 5am.
There was no time for a shower, as we were heading straight off to be at the viewing area in time for sunrise. Once we were in place Skip got to work on breakfast. The porridge and coffee tasted even better than the morning before. Once again, Dan was able to get some 'epics'.
On the long drive back to Alice Springs we stopped off at a camel farm. Although camels are obviously not native to Australia, they have been in the area since the 1840s and many farms offer camel rides for tourists. Dan and I decided to opt out, as we thought it didn't really fit in with the rest of the trip (we'll save it for if we ever go to Egypt!). A few of the party joined in though and seemed to have a good time.
Back in Alice Springs, we were all dropped off at our accommodation. We were told we had two hours to have a much needed shower and to meet back at the Rock Bar later that evening. Most people were unrecognisable in their glad rags and make-up! We had a table reserved and had a fantastic evening chatting about the past three days. Lots of email addresses were exchanged and we are hoping to keep in contact with our pommie chums once we get back to the UK. All in all it was a wonderful adventure and I would recommend The Rock Tour company to anyone wishing to visit Uluru but who doesn't want to blow half their budget getting there!