The Olgas & Uluru

The Outback. Here we fancily stay at “Sails In The Desert,” a hotel that sprawls over some acreage. It’s a gorgeous place where the staff is young, fervent, effervescent, wonderful. They are, literally, a sweet oasis in the usual nippy Australian service we’d become almost accustomed to.

The shot below is of a stand of Ghost Gum trees in the hotel’s courtyard. What’s interesting here is that the barks of these trees are covered with a fine dusting of white powder. According to the guide, the Aboriginal people used this white resin as a sunscreen.

[Click on photos to enlarge]

Ghost Gum Trees

Now. Why Aboriginal people would need sunscreen on their dark faces, I’m sure I do not know.

But, to continue. The Outback is high desert, of course, and operatic. It’s hot as the gates of Hades by day, and cold as Satan’s heart at night. The tourist industry has manufactured a “town centre,” which is a cluster of hotels, a restaurant, a cute shopping center with shuttle service that you will never need to get around.

And, here, at night when the cloudless blue desert sky turns black, the sky is littered wiith stars. They take their bold stage turns in the absence of city lights. Unbelievable as it is, to me, we see the milky way with our naked eyes. By telescope we see stars powdering stars.

Nevertheless, the absolute star of the show, and the whole point of being here, is to see, Kata Tjuta, a/k/a “The Olgas” and Uluru a/k/a “Ayers Rock.” We are happy that in private we scoffed at the driver in Melbourne who told us that if he were a travel agent, he’d never even mention Ayers Rock: “It’s just big rock in the desert.”

First View of Uluru

Is it any stretch of the imagination to understand why the Aboriginal people regard this great, red monolith as sacred, really? I mean, just look at the changing colors in my point-‘n-shoot photos. But first, some instructions: Navigating the photo gallery may be confusing. See “Help,” if you need it, at the bottom right hand corner. Toggle F11 for a bigger screen.

We were only two of the hordes of people pulled up on Grayline Tour buses to toast, with champagne, wine and finger food, sunset at “The Rock.” To be sure, the changes were so subtle, so gradual, that people didn’t applaud as they do the last sizzle of sunset on Ocean Beach in SF, for instance.

I’m telling you, these changing colors are why fools, like me, set the alarm for 5 am — on vacation — and stand hungry and freezing our bits to see exactly what color sunrise would paint Uluru. Madness. But I dare you to find the rare tourist without Red Rock fever!

[tag] Australia, The Outback, “Sails in the Desert”, Ghost Gum Trees, Melbourne, Aboriginal people, Kata Tjuta, Uluru, The Rock, Ayers Rock, The Olgas, Photo Gallery [/tag]

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