Australia 2011: The Red Centre

We’d enjoyed our time in Cairns and especially our trip to the Great Barrier Reef, which it was a privelege to see and one that may be denied to subsequent generations if the warming oceans prompt its destruction.

Now it was time to surrender the current van and take to the sky again- this time a flight to another of Australia’s renowned sites: Ayers Rock, otherwise known as Uluru. The excursion had been booked here in the UK as part of the whole trip, rather than left to us to organise on the hoof. We needed to clear the van, our home for the previous 2 weeks and were faced with the problem of shedding some belongings in order to get our luggage [one bag each] down to the requisite weight for the small plane. Remember, we’d begun our trip weeks ago in New Zealand and had been in the snow-clad south of the south, where we’d worn multiple, thick layers of clothes. Now we were in the sweltering tropics and due to travel to the arid interior. The woolly layers had to go.

But where? We’d have to discard clothing, but were reluctant, even in this former, less-aware-of-sustainability time. Having sorted the items we decided that a charity shop- a thrift store- would be the answer and duly toured Cairns in search of one…in vain. In the end we just had to leave our discarded items by the recycling bins in the hope that someone would make use of them.

We arrived to our desert hotel, a building cunningly situated and camouflaged to make as little visual impact on the barren landscape as possible. I rather liked the hotel for its boho vibe, unlike one or two of the others which were catering for the luxury end of the market. We had a kind of cabin room and the dining area consisted of long trestle tables we could share with other travellers. The food involved lots of BBQ- including crocodile, kangaroo etc, a naturalist’s nightmare!

We were to rise early to go out to see sunrise at Uluru. In the event, we didn’t get to see so much as a single ray of sun since the weather was stuck in stubborn, overcast mode, but the company at the dawn party was convivial and fun and we got to see the rock close up.

There was another day at Uluru so despite the heat we walked a bit, looking at a camel farm and taking in the amazing vistas. There was also a modest mall of shops and even a salon, where I took advantage and went for a much-needed haircut.

The next leg of our trip was to be by coach. Normally I’d avoid coach tours, but this was no ordinary bus excursion. We were to travel from Uluru down through the Red Centre to Alice Springs, via Kings Canyon National Park. We’d stop at King’s Canyon to do a guided hike. While I knew little about the area it was to turn out to be a proper highlight for a number of reasons.

Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is now out and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my website: or my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook.

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