Left at 8 and headed west through the amazing outback landscapes along the scenic Desert Oak Drive.
We will be covering 441 km, a predominantly straight road with one right turn before Lasseter Highway and no left turns!
The difference between a Territory and a State is in the population - Northern Territory has only 270, 000 people so the amount raised in taxes is insufficient for their spending needs; the Federal government ratifies any proposals made by the Territorial government.
First stop Stuart's Well - a camel farm with injured kangaroos, emus, dingoes as well. Bought another tea towel with Aboriginal art and an Anzac biscuit. The camels are racing camels and there is a good trade with the middle east in camel sperm as these are the healthiest, completely disease free camels in the world. However, there are too many wild camels now, who eat and kill the trees which then leads to soil erosion and destroys the insects, animals etc.
One of the first western explorers Finke, in the early 1800s, travelled the whole of the coastline of Australia, looking for a large river that would empty into the sea, like the Nile, Amazon etc. but didn't find one. So people thought there must be a large inland sea and various explorers set off to find it. (There had been a sea millions of years ago but no longer.)
Stuart was one of the very successful explorers of the interior in the 1860s but got no recognition because he was not upper class and had been state educated in Edinburgh.
The next stop is Mount Ebenezer, where we have to get a very early lunch. There are very few places across the desert with facilities so we have to stop where we can.
Sandwiches for lunch and a look at the associated Aboriginal Art gallery, where the artists are at work. We were told that the prices are reasonable for aboriginal art and the artist gets most of the money, so a better place to buy than in towns. We were convinced and have bought a genuine painting!
(History of Aboriginal art George Chaluka "journey in time")
Lassiter died looking for a mountain of gold. He had copied a prospectors map and so was convinced that there was gold and managed to raise three separate expeditions but without success. Prospectors typically drew their maps in code, the simplest being mirror image and this is probably where Lassiter went wrong as significant amounts of gold have been found 500km away and scans have shown that there is no gold where he was looking.
Uluru (Ayres Rock) is an Australian icon and the world's largest monolith. Rising from flat surrounding scrubland, Uluru is a site of deep cultural significance to the Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory. The rock was handed back to the Aboriginals at a ceremony on 26th October 1985, and they now control access, what can be photographed etc. For example the cave where the boys are initiated into manhood, known as the "Killing of the Children" cannot be photographed even from the coach. We were told the Aboriginal story of the Rock as well as the western geological facts. The rock is 900 million years old, various earthquakes made it shift position and, like an iceberg, there is more underneath than above.
dkc-1076-015Uluru from the coach (hence the reflections)
The town is called Yallara and our hotel / resort "Sails in The Desert", blends into the surroundings and cannot be seen from the rock. Arrived at our hotel at around 2:30. Immediately out again, without checking in, to see the Rock.
Sweltering in the 42 degrees blazing sun and wearing our net hats to keep off the flies, we walked to a cave to see the paintings and to a water hole. Amazing experience but too hot to really appreciate it. The driver told us some of the aboriginal stories but not sure how accurate he is.
Back to the hotel around 4:45 for another quick turnaround before being collected at 6:20 pm for the Sound of Silence trip: dinner under the stars, drinks and talk about the stars given by a local star expert. Sparkling wine and canapés when we arrived, & some aboriginal dancing (photographs were allowed). Then moved on to the 3 course meal under the stars with a talk on what we could see. Tables of 8-10, there were 8 of us from distant journeys, we were seated together. Tasty meal under the stars, have now tasted crocodile and kangeroo, both good.
Tomorrow we can get up for 6:15 & walk to a look-out point for the sunrise at 6:40 Then return to the hotel for breakfast before going on a trip at 9, prior to our 1:30 check in for the flight to Cairns.