Springs, main gateway to Australia's Red Centre.
Click bottom image for Uluru (Ayers Rock) Pictures.
Guides: Melbourne | Sydney | Great
Ocean Road | Cairns | Adelaide | Wildlife
Australia Travel Guide | Australia Pictures | Australia Beaches | Australia Map
Many tours to Uluru start from the town of Alice
Springs, 400kms (250mls) away. It takes about 5 hours
to get from town to rock with little entertainment en route, though you
could fly direct from Alice (or Sydney, Cairns, Perth) to Yulara
(Ayers Rock Resort) if time was more important than money to
Springs is home to a sad and lost aboriginal community
of around 3,000 living in appalling and inappropriate 'town
camps' that trigger alcoholism and violence. In 2007 The Alice
won first prize in three gruesome statistical races: Stabbing
capital of the world; highest murder rate in Australia; and
clearly not unconnected, the highest rate of alcohol consumption
The government is making an effort to resolve Alice's aboriginal
problems with emergency intervention and changes to the welfare
scheme, but it hasn't worked.
Tourists are harassed, attacked and robbed regularly. Local businesses have had enough and are shutting up shop, leaving the high street to the 'Grog shops' that supply aboriginals of all ages with large quantities of strong liquor daily.
Alice Springs (population 60,000) is not a wildly interesting
town and hardly worth making a special effort to see, though
it does have some reasonable but pricey restaurants, lively
bars and a couple of culture shows.
'The Alice' (as she is known to locals) is an appropriate
introduction to the Red Centre - usually hot and home to a zillion
irritating bush flies that want to suck your liquids, preferably
straight off your eyeballs, though even backpacker places in
The Alice tend to have god-given swimming pools to shelter in.
long and not-winding road from Alice Springs to Uluru with a
herd of buses paused at a roadhouse.
The 400kms, 5 hours to Uluru, broken only by the occasional
road-house stop to pee, intake refreshment or possibly grab
a short camel ride, is enlivened by almost nothing outside the
vehicle where scrubby bushes and half-dead trees dessicate under
the roasting Australian sun and kangaroos resolutely refuse
to show their legs.
In other words, don't feel this is a journey
you have make! if you have the money, fly there and stay at
the resort hotel!
to King's Canyon not enjoying a rest stop.
Flies on me!: Bush Flies are endemic in the
Red Centre (Alice Springs, Uluru, The Olgas, Kings Canyon etc)
as they breed in cow poo and the area is surrounded by cattle
stations. The flies drive tourists crazy for
much of the year and beating at them with a hand is
not a solution, the little bug***s are suicidally desperate
for liquid rich in protein and minerals and humans are the best
source, whether it's sweat or eyeball secretion.
Better to pick up a bit of broken eucalyptus and use it as a
whisk, but this is not allowed in national parks as rangers
assume that if every visitor wanted an anti-fly branch soon
the nearby trees would be stripped bare. True.
best solution, though totally naff, unfashionable and not exactly
comfortable, is a bag over the head, or more precisely, an elasticated
nylon net. Sometimes this may come built into a hat, or with
a little cloth bit at the top, but the selection in the Red
Centre is poor, so try to buy beforehand. Cairns has a particularly
good selection. $10 well spent, believe it.
The clichéd Australian hats with dangling corks don't
work very well as once you stop moving, so do the corks, and
bang goes your defensive system.
The other kind of Australia fly, the Blow Fly, is bigger, slower
than the Bush Fly and doesn't bother humans at all. The reason?
It breeds in dead flesh, absorbing quite enough protein in the
process, so it doesn't need the paltry amount it could collect
from sucking a human.
Canyon. Not worth the crack, mate. Click to see Uluru Pictures.
Canyon is a tour option that extends a basic two-day Uluru and
Kata Tjuta trip to three days. Is it worth it? Absolutely not.
The rim walk takes a couple of hours and is pleasant with pretty
good views, but not worth another 24 hours of flies, heat, dull
bus rides, tents and half-baked food, not to mention the extra
Those punters who chose not to do the rim walk had
a pleasant 15 minute stroll at the base of the canyon...in exchange
for what? 24 hours of cost and extended discomfort! Just say