No room buddies = blessing.
Drag myself out of bed with the thought of a hot cup of tea to tempt me. I have a $50 note and a 10c piece. I'm just about desperate enough to donate 50 for a cuppa. I feel miserable. It's 14 degrees and between that and the cold/flu I can't stop shivering. (I'm in the desert. Why isn't it hot?). I walk in to reception. No tea. It must be only for the early bus pick ups. Shit. Plan B. Catch the shuttle into town. It's 10am. Shuttle doesn't start until 10.30. I try the restaurant at the back of the resort. Sure, $36 for a buffet. Fuck. Go to town, she says. I say the bus doesn't start til 10.30. No, she says, start at 7. She's wrong. I stick my head in the communal kitchen. I don't have the energy to initiate communication to beg a cup of tea.
So here I am sitting on a park bench waiting for a bus.
Plans for the day.
Write and send postcards.
Book bus to kings canyon
Book mon night accommodation.
Go on nature walk.
Wildflowers at sunset.
10.45 still waiting for the shuttle. Next time I'd hire a car.
There is a cafe in the town centre that is used for hospitality training for Indigenous folk. Kulata Academy Cafe. They make a pretty good hot chocolate and some decent tucker. I find a sunny corner and write some postcards. I'm still trying to figure out the best (read cheapest) way to get to Kings Canyon. The bus is too expensive and the times aren't the most suitable. You can do a day trip but I really want to go at sunrise. I've already booked accommodation, I just need to get there. I was planning to try and catch a lift with someone heading that way but I've been too sick to strike up any conversations. And I realise no one will want me coughing in the back of their car all the way to Kings Canyon anyway. So I decide to hire a car.
I book a helicopter flight for sunrise the next day. I still haven't booked anywhere to stay for the last night.
The camel rides seem popular but I'm not the least bit interested. There are plenty of free activities around the resorts so I go on an interesting nature walk given by a lovely indigenous man (though not from the local Anangu people).
After the nature talk I went in search of some art works and found an interesting blend of photography and jewellery with an Artist in Residency. Mike Fewster takes Australian nature photographs and his partner Suzette Watkins, then makes jewellery inspired by those locations. I found a lovely little ring inspired by the McDonnell ranges. I don't tend to make rash buying decisions so I thought I'd sleep on it and if I still wanted it I'd buy it on the last day. Well, I ran out of time because I got carried away with the wildflowers around Uluru. But I remembered Mike saying they would be at Floriade so I tracked them down there and bought it. So it's a souvenir of both Uluru and Floriade. And I love it. When you buy a piece of jewellery you get a little picture of the area that inspired it and I was going to photograph the ring with the photo. But I've put it somewhere safe and haven't discovered where that is yet. Oh, you can also buy prints of the images. Check out their work here (Surprisingly, the photos of the jewellery aren't that great)
Back at the Pioneer Outback I ask about the best place for wildflowers and discover there's a walk to a lookout right at the back of the accommodation. It turns out to be an absolute treasure trove of wonderfulness and I'm astounded at the abundance and variety of flowers. The gallery below is some favourites from that walk, starting with a couple from the grounds (the Geraldton Wax) before I got off the beaten path.
I've included a couple of shots for reference of scale. Look for the overall Uluru shot with the bus in it to see where I was wandering. It's also where I took the shot above of the front row seat.
The slides play automatically but if you want to pause it you can just hover your mouse over a photo.