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Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

My third tour in central Oz was a day trip to King’s Canyon, about 3 hours away from Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

on the canyon rim next to a eucalyptus tree

It was an overcast and slightly drizzly day, which made for perfect hiking weather as I didn’t have to worry about burning or becoming dehydrated in the desert sun.  The scenery was consequently a little more sedate given the cloud cover.  I was still surrounded by brilliant burnt reds and browns of the canyon’s rocks and domes and earth.  I still marveled at the sage greenery and noted how very lime-colored the spinifex grasses can be at times.  The difference was that the sky replaced it’s bright blueness with a steely blanket of clouds.  While the color combination wasn’t as brilliant, it was still beautiful.

And, I was once again struck by the vastness of the area.  The canyon was overwhelming from so many different views:  on the canyon rim looking into the deep chasms,

on a lookout point surveying the surrounding outback for miles and miles,

or descending to a watering hole and craning up at the umber walls surrounding me.

It was all so magnificent.

On the drive back to Ayers Rock Resort we stopped at another look out point to see Mount Connor (a third gigantic rock formation in the area)  and one of Australia’s salt lakes, Lake Amadeus.   The tour guide let me collect a little red sand from a dune along our roadside stop as a memento of the scenic landscape in Australia’s Red Center.  Stunning.

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My second tour in Australia’s Red Centre was a sunrise tour of Uluru (Aboriginal name) or Ayers Rock (white name).   The colors were better than the previous night’s sunset, with the dawning sun gradually brightening and turning the rock formation brighter and brighter orange as the day progressed.  When the sun was up enough to cast shadows you could make out more of the ripples and crevices in the rock.

My tour included two trail hikes led by a guide who explained some Anangu culture, which is the Aboriginal tribe in the area around Uluru.  It was interesting to hear some of their creation myths and how they both taught morals and explained features of the rock formations.

I loved, loved, LOVED the colors here.  The burnt browns and oxidized reds of the earth, the various greens and sages of the trees and bushes, and  the clear vast blue of the sky combine to form a glorious trio of colors that brilliantly complement one another.  I couldn’t stop photographing the landscape.

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I spent four days in central Australia, a vast, desert region so spacious that I can’t find a word big enough to describe its scale.  “Open” is what keeps springing to mind.  In every direction, I saw expanses of red earth and yawning sky for miles and miles and miles.  I toured 3 main geological formations in the Red Centre, and decided to devote a separate blog posting to each in an attempt to give justice to the immensity of each one.

My first tour was to Kata Tjuta (as the Aboriginals call it), or The Olgas (as white explorers named it).  This is a series of 36 red sandstone domes, millions of years in the making.  I hiked two trails there, including a surreal walk between two of the domes.   Walking through the canyon, engulfed on either side by steep red canyon walls and feeling dwarfed by their massive size was surprisingly calming.

I was also lucky enough to see a dingo and a wild camel on this tour.  Camels were brought to central Australia when the area was being developed to help with road and railway construction.  After they were no longer needed they were set free to roam the desert on their own, and their wild progeny can still be seen today.  Dingos (wild dogs) are indigenous to Oz.

The tour ended with a sunset viewing of the domes, which was such a pleasant experience.  They gave us Australian sparkling wine to enjoy while watching the impressive rock and surrounding bush landscape darken in the fading sun.  Driving back to my resort was also magical as we could watch the fading silhouettes of both Kata Tjuta and Uluru (see later post) while the last of the day’s light faded.

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I got to watch the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks in person this year.  How cool is that?  Happy 2010!

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Somehow I managed to live three years in upstate New Yorks’ Finger Lakes region without ever going on a wine tour, so when I came to Australia for the holidays I was excited to spend a couple days in the famed wine region down under.  Of course, the Hunter Valley is a bit more widely-known than the Finger Lakes as a major wine producing region, so it wasn’t too shabby as an entree into the world of wine tastings.  And I have to say that wines from Oz are MUCH tastier than those Finger Lakes varietals.  Turns out that going on a winery tour is a really great way to spend an afternoon!

At the Tintilla Winery

With the welcoming and charming owners of Savannah Estate

Wines aside, the Hunter Valley is beautiful!

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