Melbourne and Ayers Rock -
I do love Australia. It's just a pity it's such a long way from England. After a 24 hour flight it can take some time to adjust to the time difference!
I flew to Melbourne but unfortunately as it was the end of their winter it was pretty wet, not much chance for fun photo opportunities. So I met up with Gerry, the sister of my friend Chris, we went to St Kilda on a wet Sunday afternoon, and ended up getting quite drunk on 'alcoholic slushies'.
Finally, on my third trip to Australia I made it to Ayers Rock (or Uluru). I'd been to Perth and Sydney before, but somehow never made it to this intriguing monolith in the middle of Australia.
It's an amazing sight. I packed in as much as I could in the 2 days I was there.
I stayed at the Pioneer Lodge resort. I was very impressed both with the accommodation and the service, for one of the less expensive hotels. A very comfortable room (with a free upgrade) and the most pleasant and polite staff you could imagine.
A helicopter ride around the rock and the Olgas was stunning and definitely worth the money.
The 'Sounds of Silence dinner (where they take you into the outback, you watch Uluru as the sun sets then have a buffet dinner under the stars) is amazing. When they turn out all the lights you can see the milky way stretch from horizon to horizon, the sky seems to be overflowing with stars, and you realise just how insignificant we are in the universe. I'd seen some spectacular night skies in California, but the Ayers Rock resort has so little air pollution that it is truly the most fantastic I've seen. As Mars was at it's closest point to Earth in something like 60,000 years it was an added bonus. No martians landed though.
The only disappointment was the next morning. The rock at sunrise was again quite a visual feast, but due to high winds I couldn't climb the rock. OK, I know the aborigines don't like you to climb 'their' rock, but sod it, I travelled halfway round the world and I wanted to climb! I suppose this means I have an excuse to go back again and maybe stay a little longer.
The final fun was a camel ride to see the rock as sun set once again, After Cairo I have become a great fan of camels, they beat horses any day! My camel was called Gonzo and he was a very friendly and docile animal.
Here is a link to Ayers Rock Resort and tours.