Last updated on December 8, 2009
We’re flashing back to Australia today – to Uluru most specifically. Fret not my friends, the stories of Ireland are not over, but there were a handful of neat experiences in Australia that I never got a chance to cover.
I’ll preface this entire post by saying that although I was on an organized tour and saw all of the major sites…the fact that it was raining made this one of the biggest (and wettest) of my Australia adventures. It’s not incredibly typical for it to rain for days on end in the outback – in fact it’s blatantly untypical.
So what does it take to start the rain storms in the outback? Me booking onto the “budget” three-day outback tour where you get the awesome pleasure of sleeping in swags (canvas sleeping bags) under the stars. It hadn’t rained in the outback for more than six months…so naturally bucket loads were in store for me.
What’s the appeal of the Australian outback?
The red center of Australia is incredibly flat but there are several huge natural sandstone rocks jutting out of the massive expanse of ruby-red dirt: Uluru and Kata Juta. Uluru (Ayres Rock to tourists) is the giant red rock most often associated with Australia; it’s sacred to the Aboriginals and there are dozens of myths and stories about the rock’s significance.
And I was jazzed to learn about them all…even through the endless, endless, endless, rain – which could have been a bummer if it wasn’t such a ridiculous trip.
Day One: Introductions, Sing-a-longs, and the race for Waterfalls
As soon as the raindrops started hitting the windshield of the tour bus, our slightly spastic driver/guide, Jess, decided that caution is a relative term. Instead of slowing down and continuing with vigilant diligence toward Uluru, she excitedly gunned the engine babbling about our “great luck” at maybe-possibly-hopefully seeing waterfalls on Uluru.
The 21 of us crammed in the back of the tour bus all murmured excitedly – what luck, right?! Australia’s been in a dry-spell and now it breaks just in time for us to see waterfalls on the rock! Jess blasts “It’s Raining on the Rock” by John Williamson through the speakers of the car and we seem to be seriously trying to complete the last 30 miles in ten minutes flat.
By this point I was not the only one looking for a little bit of excitement after four plus hours of sing-a-longs and introductory games and the “oh-look there’s a camel” game. Don’t get me wrong, it was pretty neat to hear the “Journey-esque” songs from other countries, but there’s only oh-so much you can handle of 20 others (with varying skill levels) singing along at top volume.
Between the songs and the games of hangman on the window (thank god for dry-erase markers…how come my parents never took these on car trips?!) we were very willing to instead focus attention on the huge rock looming darkly in the distance.
Our luck was holding because we pulled up to the rock while the rain clouds were still dumping water down the rock, causing natural waterfalls to spring up all over and cascade down the now-grayish tinged “red rock.” With Jess’ excitement fueling us we donned our rain coats and happily escaped the bus, snapping pictures of Uluru’s unique waterfalls – something Jess had only seen once before in the three years she had run tours!
With some rain still pouring down we plopped back into our seats to drive to the sunset spot.
That’s when, for THREE brief minutes, the sun peaked out from behind the clouds while a rainbow lit up the rock. Instead of pushing through to the sunset spot we poured out of the van and I caught the only sunny picture I would ever take of Uluru…but there’s a rainbow creeping out, so it was pretty amazing actually :-)
This may be how most people see the rock, but for me those three minutes of sunshine and rainbow are perhaps more special because of the deluge that would strand our bus over the next two days.
Stay tuned for the next installment of the Uluru Outback adventure in the rain…day two sees us wading waist deep in the water and trying valiently to keep a smile on our faces!
And this is a little YouTube video of the song “It’s Raining on the Rock” – our theme song for the trip: