The Road to Ayer’s Rock

While the Aboriginal tribes have changed the name to Uluru, the name of the cluster of hotels and tourism services is still called Ayer’s Rock Resort. This post will discuss the near 300 mile drive from Alice Springs.

First, a few comments about the desert vegetation. The terrain in the Outback is generally flat with coarse red sand, which is the remnant of an erosion of most of the rock that perhaps was once a more mountainous landscape. The plant life is really amazing. There are no cacti here… Instead, the land is sparsely covered by various grasses and spindly  trees. I asked our bus driver how this vegetation finds its water. He replied that, first, the desert has extensive underground springs and cisterns. Second, the root systems of the desert fauna is extremely shallow. Any precipitation or dew is absorbed quickly through the sand and into the root systems. There are no massive sand dunes, at least in the areas we saw.

Ayer’s Rock is literally in the middle of nowhere, so they called this road “ The Road to Nowhere.”  I had all kinds of associations as we drove on…particularly, when told that we would stop at a couple comfort stations on the way. These were located at natural springs, and included petrol, cafes, showers, and hotel rooms. I found myself thinking of Lawrence of Arabia, with the vast stretches of desert broken up by occasional water wells at oases. This image became all the more vivid when our guide mused that the average human could last out here for about eight hours without water.

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We drove into the first stop, Stuart’s Well Roadhouse. This place was really funky!! The people out here have a fascination with Emus. There was a habitat set up for a flock near the buildings. Inside, you could gaze at the world’s largest Smurf collection.

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Walking through the cafe area and bar revealed lots of interesting displays. First was a classified note from the bar manager that she was selling her husband. I posted this below, but you might not be able to make out the requests for added information written on the page.

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My favorite was the question asking whether her husband had a large bankroll and a weak heart??

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I was intrigued to find this Jack Daniels sculpture way out in the Outback.

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I finally found the reclusive Outback cactus!!

I found the perfect camel for my wife during her broken leg rehab!!

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There was an interesting poem on the wall. Reading it, I was unclear about the reference, but thought it could have fit my country

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There was the necessary Aussie desert snake.

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Too soon it was time to get back on the road through the desert to nowhere. The next roadhouse was not nearly as fun, other than its claim that their establishment was in the exact center of the Australian continent:

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Our driver told us about Australia’s Great Dividing Range during the trip. This is a series of mountains that begin on the far northern coast not far from the a Pacific Ocean, and range all the way down the continent before turning east close to the Antarctic Ocean. Generally all of Australia’s fairer climates and arable land is on the east side of these mountains. To the west lie the deserts. This section of better climates is really a small proportion of the country.

We finally approached our destination and were teased by a beautiful geologic formation in the distance:

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Then “The Rock,” let us know we had arrived. Here is a glimpse and a taste of what will be reviewed next !!

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