Despite Damascus offering at the last minute to accompany me on my Uluru adventure, I set off on a solo jaunt. I did try to get a travel buddy to share some expenses but the timing just didn't work out.
It took quite a bit of research to organise this holiday. Far more than I would have expected. I was initially planning to fly from Brisbane but there are no direct flights from Bris to Yulara, which is the town just outside the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. I could have flown to Alice Springs but then there's still the matter of getting to Yulara (about a 5 hour drive!) and then back again. Jetstar had cheap flights direct from Melbourne so I planned my stay around the best prices. Fly in on Thurs, out on Tue.
After an aborted flight (all strapped in, ready for take off), we had to swap planes. Finally arrive at Yulara, step out the door of the plane and Look Look Look. There it is! The Big Red Rock!
Travelling for Dopey Dora's. (Notes taken on the trip)
I didn't realise NT was a different time zone. Duh. 30 mins behind. ( *This was in August. Don't know about daylight savings)
Also, it's not as hot as I thought it would be. I expected the nights and mornings to be cold but not all bloody day. ( *I had to buy a jumper as I didn't have enough warm clothes).
There's a courtesy bus from the Airport that stops at all Accomm. If I had someone to splits costs I would have hired a car, but it seemed a bit pricey just for one person for that length of time so I started off with buses. Uluru Resort and AAT Kings buses pretty much have everything stitched up to offer tightly packaged deals. There's not much in the middle range of accommodation, with Camp Grounds and Backpackers at one end and straight to bloody expensive at the other. I chose a 4 bed mixed dorm at the Outback Pioneer Lodge. I wasn't quite bold enough to go for the 20 bed female dorm. Besides, you never know who you might meet in a mixed room! (*Note: No one interesting)
First impressions of the Outback Pioneer Lodge were pretty good with a beaut range of flowers to tempt me to get the camera out.
Notes for Dopey Dora's.
- Print out all bookings.
- Pack various size zip lock bags.
This is not good.
Trying to be positive. Failing
I had woken that morning feeling a bit off but put it down to not enough sleep in the lead up to getting away. On the plane I was a bit worried I might be getting sick. By the time I checked in there was no more denying it. I had the bloody flu. (OK, maybe it was just a cold, I don't know the difference, but I was sick and getting sicker). There was an issue with the cleaning and my room wasn't ready. I confusion over which bus was the courtesy bus that would get me into town (to buy some cold & flu tabs!) so I wasted a couple of hours around the grounds of the Lodge, finally got my room key, had a debate with an older guy over who got which bed, he wasn't convinced that I was right so off we went to the front counter before he finally admitted defeat. Too late to catch the bus in to the town centre by then as I had the Field of Lights Tour booked. So I dosed up on Panadol and off I went.
There are three options to see the Field of LIghts. It's on until March 2018. The $39 pass gets you there after sunset and into the installation. You can't use a tripod in amongst the lights but in the $85 option you watch the sunset from a higher platform (with Champers and Canapes) and you can use a tripod there. There is another Option for dining but I wasn't interested in that. As far as I could tell, you had to catch the bus (AAT Kings, of course) and couldn't just drive yourself out there to have a look. I could be wrong though.
I hadn't found my photography groove at all at the sunset platform. My head was foggy and I was aching and there were people everywhere (I'm making excuses for the shabby photos). The lights were impressive though and I've included one pretty ordinary (and very noisy) shot just to say I was there.
The guide did say we could use a tripod as a monopod down amongst the lights. There are walking tracks right through the installation and it covered a bigger area than I expected. So it was impressive and I enjoyed it and I'm glad I got to see it. However, it did seem a bit contrived to simply get more money out of the tourists (there's not much else to do at night so it's a clever idea) and by the end of the trip I decided the Fields of Wildflowers were far more impressive. And they were free!