There Goes My Karma: An Adventure On A Big Red Rock

I have to say right now that my karma has taken a hit, I have however since been reworking to rebuild some so I reckon I should be okay and that my train hopefully will not come off the tracks on Monday, fingers crossed! Keep on reading to understand this deliberately misleading opening paragraph.

However as you know here in my world we believe in chronology so lets start with my arrival into Alice Springs; I stepped off the train into the middle of a frenzy owing to the 80th year celebrations. A charming girl asked me if I would mind being interviewed for the radio and given my journalism degree and the amount of people I’ve badgered in public it would be rude of me not to, so I got quizzed for a few minutes on the Ghan and travelling, which was all jolly lovely.

I was eventually reunited with my bags and found the bus to the hostel and arrived into Haven backpackers resort, nothing particularly spectacular as a hostel in all fairness but its clean enough and well located so its fine by me.

The first night I spent doing very little I did luck into one spectacular thing though; as I wandered round Woolworths in search of food the store intercom made a spectacular announcement: “all roast chickens are now $3, we’ve made too many today.” Like half of the rest of the shop I made my way there quick sharp and got hold of one; this led to me having the next four meals for less than $10, mega!

I had a day in Alice Springs to spare before I headed off on my tour to the Big Red Rock itself (Uluru or Ayre’s Rock if your a clown or live under a rock :P) so I decided to have a wander round and accomplish one important task; posting a parcel home. That out of the way I had a little wander down to the Reptile Park.

This was absolutely classic, so many freaky creatures, a picture of a man eaten by a 7m python in the Phillipines that turned my stomach and then there was the part where we got to hold all the animals, the big snake was the highlight, bigger than the one from the other day, “Susie Q” as she was called was rather inquisitve and awesome to hold, crazy creatures. If you come across one in the wild, stand STILL, a good theory but I think I’d shit myself and try to run, must try to remember not to do that 😛

After that it was time for something amazing; an hour long camel ride along the MacDonell Ranges, given my own camel, Trillian we headed out led by our guide Esther, who had recently come back from riding camels from Alice Springs to Monkey Mia, a ridiculous journey by any standard, nevermind on a camel, amazing!!

The ride itself was absolutely fantastic, rather bizarre yet brilliant creatures, they can go up to a month without finding water, a human might last a couple of days if they find shade. Definitely a reccomended experience for anyone who gets the chance.

I spent the night chilling in anticipation of getting up at 6AM for the 3 day/2 night tour to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon, exciting, I woke up in the morning and was not awake at all by the time I dragged my sorry ass on to the bus, despite a good sleep; there’s something about getting up at 5AM that ruins the brain, fact!!

After the first few hours on the bus and a bit of a snooze I was just about becoming a human being by the time we arrived at a camel farm, having just done a full ride the night before I didn’t bother with the 2 minute ride; I instead headed to the cafe in search of a new taste; a camel burger. It was actually rather delicious, a lovely meat, quite a dry burger but it seemed a lot less fatty than your average beefburger; excellent.

Post camel farm everyone introduced themselves and started chatting a bit, I found myself on a bus with 3 girls from the University of Cincinnati, a 17 yo from Brighton and a couple from St Helens, two lovely young German ladies amongst many other characters. I was incredibly excited to talk to the Cincy types thanks to its proximity of my old locale Lexington, wonderful to talk about the area but it didn’t half make me miss the place bad, cant wait to see it again =)

Anyway, I digress, from there it was time to bash on all the way to Uluru itself, on our way in we were told the aboriginals would prefer that we didn’t climb the rock and would rather we just took a little walk around it. As I sat on the fence considering the possible debilitating effects on my karma we arrived and it was decision time. I was 50/50 until Tom (17 yo mentioned previously) said he was going, I of course couldn’t let him go alone and that prompted Lee and Shelley (St Helens) to join us as well.

I’ve personally wanted to climb it for a long time but I’m not going to try and justify it, I will however say that the climb is absolutely amazing. It’s possibly the best workout your thighs will ever have as well. It took plenty of time for our motley drew to trek to the top, on the way we added a 15yo Texan girl who was giving up on getting to the top whom we convinced otherwise.

Her father and brother had quite the shock as they started their descent and found their daughter trekking up with us as she’d informed them she was giving up and heading down the mountain a while earlier; she along with the rest of us made it all the way to the top, her family were proud.

It was amazing to be at the top of Ayre’s rock, the landscape up there is something else, quite the trek to get up there but absolutely and utterly worth it. Other than the possible effects on my karma I would reccomend anyone to go up; both your tour guide and the signs will try and guilt trip you into not going up; if you want to do it ignore them and do what you want; its amazing.

Post trek we headed off to our camping grounds for the night, got the fire roaring and the food on the go. Then the goon came out and at some point I went from relatively okay to chucking up in the bushes and losing my swag. Thankfully Megsy the tour guide came to my rescue and helpfully pointed me in the right direction.

I woke up with a mildly fuzzy head and another few lost memories but not too much the worse for wear. It was time to head out to the cultural centre at the Rock, which was rather interesting. The most interesting part was the dossier of letters from people who had taken pieces of the rock with them and sent them back after suffering terrible bad luck; thankfully I had elected to not take any of the rock with me the previous day!

From there it was time for a hike at Kata Tjuta, another good piece of walking and some more spectacular sights and miles on my hiking boots (more on them later) led to myself and the group being pretty bushed; thankfully it was lunch time, chicken burgers done on the barbie, loved it!

From there it was a fair ride on to Kings Canyon in the van, this wasn’t too bad however as it was spent with Cincy Emmo teaching us about aboriginals and architecture and me reccomending a multitude of British indie bands to Emmo as she loves them, exceptional taste!

Upon arrival at Kings Canyon we set up came again for the night and got a roaring fire going again in a much bigger pit as we were going to be cooking on it. Spag Bol cooked on the fire in big camping pots was absolutely fantastic. After the previous nights adventures I decided to have a rather more subdued affair and had a couple of cheeky Cooper’s had me mellowed nicely for a lovely toasty warm night in my swag!

Thankfully while I snoozed the visiting dingoes declined to have a nibble on my face and I woke up feeling fresh and toasty warm which of course lead to me not wanting to exit either the swag or my sleeping bag; alas that wasn’t an option so it was time to pack up camp and get back on the bus.

Time for the final big hike or the adventure; Kings Canyon – it was an absolutely fantastic and beautiful hike, another good workout for the thighs which are still giving me blue murder as I type this a day later. The domes littering the top of the canyon looked absolutely spectacular, like a million massive teepees (sp?) surrounding you from all sides; truly spectacular!

The end of the hike signaled the end of the pain for my thighs and the end of the real adventuring; it was time to tackle one last lunch and hit the road in search of Alice Springs. Six hours later we got back and the whole group headed to the shower (not together, sadly!) in anticipation of meeting back up for food on the night. One small mention from the ride home; I finally got the chance to stop and have my picture taken with a kangaroo sign, WOOHOO! Its only taken me 9.5 months to do so!

We reconvened at Toddy’s and took in some excellent tucker; kangaroo chili con carne for me; fantastic. From there it was on to the renowned Bojangle’s to carry on the fun, quite the random bar, very country, dead crocodiles on the ceilings along with various other paraphenalia, the first bar I’ve been in in forever where you can smoke as well; which seemed weird yet was a fact of life not so long ago back home!

Despite or maybe because of the completely eclectic playlist everyone was enjoying themselves, apart from possibly the guy who got completely swilled with a beer by a rather angry woman; owned. The only sad tinge to the evening came when Cincy Carmen lost 20 bucks to the floor of the bar.

After that more drinks were the order of the day and we partied on til closing time (and heard Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy too many times), then came the opportunity to bag some of my karma back, which I bagged with both hands, as I turned to go to the toilet upon leaving there was a 20 dollar note on the floor, probably not Carmen’s in all fairness but I gave it to her nonetheless, which made her overjoyed; Aboriginal Gods I hope you were watching!!

A quick walk home and a long sleep in were in order, I woke up and found Tom Tom and had a wander into the “city” (this place is a third of the size of Hartlepool), after a bit he headed off to sort his washing out and I had a wander round the shops and another Eureka moment occured…

… For the past 9.5 months I have been searching high and low for a wide brimmed hat that satisfied three criteria; number one that I liked the look of it, number two that it was less than 100 dollars and most importantly number three, it would fit on my fat head. I have now found this hat, thanks to a brand called Jacaru who do hats in XXL size, love them.

Proudly wearing my new hat I headed down to meet Tom at Bojangles for lunch, there we smashed into the Bojangles Mixed Grill, a tour de force for the Australian carnivore, this included; kangaroo steak, buffalo steak, crocodile rissole, camel shaslik and emu sausage – and was absolutely delicious. I think I’ve now tried pretty much every Australian meat, I’ve not seen Koala on the menu anywhere yet though 😛

After that I finally managed to get some new trousers, which has allowed me to chuck my awful ripped jeans, on the way home we bought the ingredients to make kangaroo bolognaise which I’m heading off to cook once I get this finished off; which has taken me most of the afternoon alongside doing my washing!

Before leaving you all I would like to add an observation of the weirdness of Alice Springs, everywhere you go there are aboriginals people sat around seemlingly oblivious of the world around them, the local whites don’t register the aboriginals and vice versa. Plus they have banned the four litre goon box here thanks to them being abused by aboriginals apparently and there’s a quote on how much alocohol you can buy, that it is covered by scanning ID’s, crazy!

Anyway I must run as I’m starving, much love to all, 51 days til home!

Love and Jacaru!

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