My Month in OZ! (continued)
The third week
 
 I arrived in Alice Springs around 10am to an unbelievable 42 degrees celsius.  Trying to sleep in a non-air conditioned backpacker's hostel room was virtually impossible.   Thank goodness the refrigerator kept the Victoria Bitters cold!


Here are Sam and Jerry who shared their wine with me while I waited for the tour bus to pick me up at midnight to take me to sunrise at Uluru (Ayer's Rock).

The bus used for the six hour journey was one of the shuttle types used by hotels and rental car companies, so sleep was not really an option.  Luckily, there were two interesting women on the bus:  Anna from Great Britain and Kate from New York.  Anna was way friendly with a contagious smile and absolute child-like awe of Red Centre much like my own!   Kate was very str8 and made that known up front, but, she was interesting and fun to talk to.
 
Our tour arrived at Uluru, which means meeting place, at dawn.  Uluru is striated sandstone and is the largest monolith on earth.  Two-thirds of Uluru is beneath the ground.   Originally, Red Centre was completely submerged in a vast sea.  The sea dried and Uluru, during the great ice age, turned on it's side.  That's the reason for the vertical striations.

Uluru is a sacred place to the Aboriginals, and ownership returned to the Anangus in 1985.   Uluru is where the Dreaming tracks intersect.  For over 50,000 years before the Europaens, Australian Aboriginals have had the Dreamtime.  It is the basis of all thought and practice.  All culture, history and heritage is interwoven in the mythology of an age that existed long ago yet remains constantly present, linking past, present and future in a continual, timeless experience.

I had climbed only about a fifth of the way up when I began feeling uneasy and came down.  I'm glad I did.  On visiting the Uluru Cultural Center afterwards, the request of the Aborigines to not climb Uluru is made very clear.

So, instead of attempting the climb of Uluru, Anna and I accompanied one of the AusTour guides, Wulf, as he led us on a two hour walk around some of the very sacred and special areas around the base of Uluru.

  It was here I first saw actual Aboriginal rock paintings and learned some of the desert culture of this amazing people.  Wulf was most knowledgable and it is evident in conversation that he holds a high regard for the Aborigines!

There are only four colors used in Aboriginal art:  red, which is made from the red sand of the desert (iron pyrite in the sand, which rusts, gives the sand its very red color;) white, from the ghost gum tree (an interesting aside here:  if you rub your palm over the surface of a ghost gum, your hand comes away with a dusting of white powder.  The Aboriginals, highly prone to intense sunburn, use this resin as a sunscreen!) yellow, derived from native flora; and black which is made from charcoal and soot.

A few of the tidbits I learned from Wulf:
  • The underground, spring-fed waterhole at Uluru is permanent, never drying.
  • Aborigines will only use their lips when drinking from water holes shared by wildlife.  Anglos will cup their hands to drink.  The oils from a human's hands can be detected by wildlife and they will avoid the waterhole.
  • The male lead of a mob of roos will slap at the blowies (blowflies, a constant yet non-biting nuisance that are attracted to mammals by the moisture of skin and eyes) with their front paws and then raise the paw to their nose.   The male roo then can tell from the scent of the blood if the blowie came from a human or another animal!

 
 Although climbing is not allowed at Kata Tjuta  (the Olgas) which means many heads, there are several hikes available.  I did take the 2k trek through the canyon, again with Anna, and marveled at the exquisite yet austere beauty of these aggregate formations.
 
After our day at Uluru and Kata Tjuta, I changed over to AKT Tours.  Although a full-sized tour bus, it was peopled with folks of my age range!  Sheesh!  How I wished I were back on the shuttle with Anna and the younger crowd!  Still, as we travelled to Kings Canyon Resort, I was able to enjoy watching a young Dutch woman travelling with her cousin, her aunt and uncle.
 
Although she didn't speak English and I can't speak Dutch, I found out her name was Merika.  She was in her early 20s it seemed, with short, wavy auburn hair and those crystal blue eyes, almond shaped, that tilted slightly at the corners.  And, she had lovely long, dark lashes and full brows.   Her mouth was full and dimpled at the corners.  I wish I'd thought to get a photo of her, but, I was so entranced by her constant smile and the frequent touching of me she managed, that I didn't even think of my camera!

We eventually communicated well enough to that evening share a fine bottle of Australian Cabernet and watch this sunset together.   Unfortunately, her cousin knocked on my room door at a most inopportune moment, spoiling the natural progression of our acquaintance!  I can say, unequivocably, her full lips were quite kissable!
 
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