“It was an average day at Infinity Holidays … the phones were ringing and dreams were being made… meanwhile I was flying at 32’000ft with 11 other excited travel companions.”
Earlier on it was at gate 38 Sydney Domestic Airport were we first found each other, there I was like a shepherd without her flock; scanning the horizon of heads looking for the chosen ones, when one by one, like Roos at feeding time they came bounding over. We all had slight relief that the 30 minute connection time had worked in our favour. Like a school group .. “One by one” .. “This way please” .. “no running in the aisle” .. We boarded our Virgin Australia plane.
After a great intro and the emergency procedure demonstration I felt confident to buckle and unbuckle my seatbelt. … We were now wheels up heading to the centre of Australia! As good travellers we all took it in turns to sample various items off the appetizing Virgin menu, comparing notes; swishing red wine around the glass and savoring the taste of freshly brewed coffee. After hours getting to know each other, eyeing the in-flight magazines articles, finishing off the half completed Sudoko in the back of said magazine and flying over, literally nothing, we got our first glimpses of the ‘ROCK’.
After collecting our baggage we made our way out of the safety of the air conditioning and into the heat. Its how I would imagine opening a door on Mars to be .. very hot! Thankfully luxury air-conditioned coaches were waiting our arrival.
On we hopped all giving each other the “OMG we are here!” glances of excitement, but also wondering “where the hell are we”. After an entertaining 10 minutes on the bus with our knowledgeable driver we arrived at Sails in the Desert where we were met by the arrivals luggage controller … a rather firm lady; who took our luggage and before we knew it; it was at the end of our beds!
On arrival at Sails in the Desert we were met by lovely staff with trays of fresh cold lemon, honey and myrtle juice, to refresh ones palette .. Being a little ‘Ja Ja’ myself, I very much enjoyed this little but of luxury! We now had chance to explore our rooms, the hotel and what it had to offer before getting ready to meet for our afternoon excursion.
Lovely large hotel rooms were delicately decorated in muted tones to compliment the natural surrounds. With a choice of 8 pillows to sink into and a double basin bathroom, this was luxury. Locally inspired toiletries were available for use in the bathroom and our hotel rooms came with good air conditioning, big thick black-out curtains and a sizable balcony. I eagerly flung open my balcony door to sit with a beer .. Sorry apple juice … and enjoy the sun; after 20 seconds on the balcony in the full midday sun I felt like a fried egg in a pan and retreated back inside muttering about heat and big hair.
It’s now 2.25pm .. Away we go to Kata Tjuta to visit Walpa Gorge. Our wicked driver gives us fantastic commentary about the area and its significance to the indigenous community before we set off on foot for a cruisy but uneven walk. Sadly it was here we lost a retail agent .. Or at least the use of his left ankle …
By this point I have 11 ravenous agents on my hands .. all that fresh air, heat and walking … thank the lord for the Sunset BBQ and dinner. On arrival at the sunset viewing area at Uluru there were tables of chips and dips amongst a sea of people also enjoying the spectacular view. As we rugby tackled our way to our table and took a cracker with cheese .. I felt like a black bear fresh out of hibernation .. It was agreed amongst the team, it was the best cracker .. EVER. Over a glass of wine from the ever refilling bar, we mingled with growing crowds of excited travelers and watched the sunset casting many colours across the Rock. It really was a ‘dear diary’ moment for all of us, a realization that we help make all those happy faces there enjoying the view too!
Now it was dark and the crowds were slowly dispersing. It was here we followed our driver and guide Ryan to the secret BBQ location. With bated breath and images of steak firmly etched in our minds we arrived … WOW! Long tables in white linen greeted us with a line up of friendly smiley staff. The BBQ dinner was awesome, we mingled and chatted to other travelers and got to hear their stories; The food and the experience was unforgettable! After dinner we enjoyed some star-gazing.
‘Breakfast at leisure’ is not a term usually found on our itinerary so it was met with enthusiasm and happiness by the gang. A good sleep and over indulgence at the ‘egg’ station in the buffet restaurant started the day off well. Today we are heading to the Kings Canyon. So it’s a fair drive to Kings Canyon, but not a bad as I anticipated it could be. Armed with juice boxes and muesli bars for the kids we stopped via a road house for refreshments and snacks and checked out the resident Emus, Camels and the rare 5 legged horse. The iconic Mt Connor is pretty spectacular. The whole region is surrounded by salt lakes too.
On arrival at Kings Canyon our driver Carl showed us around. The resort is sensitive to its surrounds and built so as not to ‘offend’ the natural landscape. A 4* property offering standard rooms and deluxe spa rooms, it’s a great choice. The property hosts the world’s least used tennis courts and the most popular outback bar! Tonight we had an amazing outback bbq while listening to some local musical talent. The evening was so much fun and the hospitality was spot on!
Now, Kings Canyon, let’s get this straight .. The Rim Walk .. is not for the faint hearted .. Or in my case, the incredibly unfit. All the warnings about the “step ascent at the beginning” didn’t prepare me for the stairway to hell .. Ok, not hell, its amazing once your up there, but my noodle legs struggled to carry this rig up there. As the frail ‘grey haired’ ones passed me at speed I lay slumped on the mountain side, vomiting from exhaustion .. I felt like a contender on the ‘Biggest Looser’ .. Leave me here, let the dingo’s take me, im dying, go on without me … ok, slight exaggeration, but my LORD I felt accomplished once up there!
The walk around the Rim is about 7km and worth every bit of effort it take to get up there, once on the top, its quite easy. Professional and informative guides make sure groups are all in the same place at the same time, making photo stops unique and breathtaking. The end of the hike was celebrated by jumping in a Chopper and flying over the Canyon! WOW! $145 for 15mins and worth every penny!
From here we headed back to the resort for a quick dip in the pool before heading back to Ayers Rock. Tonight we had a great dinner at the local Geckos Café hosted by Infinity. It was sad, but our time was nearly over.
A good sleep and a 4.30am start took us to our last day and last view of Uluru .. SUNRISE!
A huge shout to AAT Kings, Delaware North, Voyages and Infinity Educationals for once in a lifetime trip to Ayers Rock! xoxo
Wrtitten by Kate Parker