Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Day 9 Australia - Ayer's Rock

Monday 2nd March, 2015 - (Y18) Uluru Sunrise, Base or Climb Tour

We decide to skip the 5 AM sunrise tour and opt to sleep in.

An afternoon of relaxation by the pool or a nap was in order after that early rising.

We spend the day relaxing, lunching and then doing laundry. John also got us packed for an early start tomorrow.

Some photos around the resort.

Sounds of Silence Dinner
Transfer Type: Seat in Coach
Duration: 5 hour(s)
Pick up: 5:00pm Desert Gardens Hotel , Ayers Rock
Drop off: 10:00pm Desert Gardens Hotel , Ayers Rock

Considering that we confirmed our attendance when we checked in yesterday, it would have been nice if someone had told us that pick up would be at 6:10 so we weren't ready and in the lobby at 4:50.

Entered into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame, Sounds of Silence offers the best of the Red
Centre distilled into four magical hours. An unforgettable evening, dining under the sparkling
outback sky.

First view of Uluru tonight.

Bus goes down a dirt road and lets us off here to walk to our cocktail spot for sunset.

Your journey begins on a lone sand dune. A meandering path takes you to an uninterrupted, three hundred and sixty degree view of this vast landscape.

In front of you are the fabled Uluru; behind you are the domes of Kata Tjuta and, possibly the most spectacular sunset you have ever seen.

You could also ride a camel to the dinner. Someone is wearing their fly net, not surprised can only imagine how many more flies these camels attract.

The didgeridoo (also known as a didjeridu) is a wind instrument developed by Indigenous Australians of northern Australia potentially within the last 1,500 years and still in widespread use today both in Australia and around the world.

This monk, I think from Burma, there were two, later asked me to take his photo.

There wasn't much of a sunset tonight so we are glad that we took the sunset tour last night.

We had met this single Japanese tourist yesterday when she took each others' photos. We were pleased to see her again and so was she. She found another Japanese couple and brought them over so she could get a photo with John and I. We have fun trying to converse, her name is Mysou (my spelling).

On our way to our table.

We asked her to sit with us for dinner and it happened they also seated the elderly Japanese couple as well. The rest of the table were four Brits and one soon to be single 62 year old Aussie man.

Here you enjoy sparkling wine and a selection of delectable canapes. As the sun sets in a blaze of reds and oranges, and well into the starlit night, you feast on a barbecue buffet of authentic Australian delicacies.

We started with pumpkin ravioli in beef stock, very good.

The wines flowed and we were escorted by table to the buffet. The lamb was the best.

Our table were a good bunch and we had some laughs. Mysou enjoyed herself and loved the port that was served.

As you wind down after a delicious dinner, you are offered a choice of tea, coffee or port. In winter, guests gather around a campfire to savour a special treat of hot mulled wine.

Attention then turns to some of the world's best stargazing, as our resident astronomer takes you on an unforgettable tour of the spectacular southern night sky.
She did her best but mother nature wasn't cooperating, or as the Aussie's say mother nature spit out the dummy.

A lovely way to spend an evening.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Rubbish Tuesday


Finally a home for all those photos I take of old items!!

March 2014 - Tucson AZ

"The Diving Girl," a restored neon sign and downtown landmark in Tucson AZ.
The building was originally The Willard Hotel. The hotel was designed by renowned architect Henry C. Trost and built by Willard Wright. The hotel was owned by William Siewert. When it opened on September 3, 1902, the Arizona Daily Citizen described the hotel “as a marvel: it is simply ahead of anything in the Southwest …”

The hotel was described as:
Thirty rooms all en suite, and all easy of access. Of the rooms some half dozen are provided with private baths, besides these there are those not directly connected with the rooms. The rooms are well lighted, carpeted with body Brussels and furnished with the late style of iron bedsteads, the beading being all that the most fastidious could desire. There are no two carpets alike, and in grades of furniture the selections are in oak and maple, both pleasing to the eye.

During WWII, the hotel was converted into apartments and in 1944 became the “Pueblo Hotel.” This redeveloped property had 32 rooms, 19 with kitchenettes, and second story porches. In 1955 a swimming pool and rows of palm trees were added. The Pueblo Hotel closed in the early 1970s after an extensive fire.

In 1991, a law firm purchased the building and undertook a gut renovation.

Day 8 Australia - Alice Springs to Ayers Rock

Sunday 1st March, 2015 - Drive Alice Springs to Ayers Rock

Approx 462 km / 6.5 hours
Leave very early this morning to make it to Ayers Rock in time for your 3:00PM tour.

We are up and ready to head out. As we are heading to settle our bill a tour guide approaches and we say no we are not on a tour.

Outside the tour bus.

We get in the car but the bus is blocking our way. Then the driver comes and calls us by name and says we are his missing passengers for the drive to Ayer's Rock. No, John says, that was changed by our agent when she booked us a car instead.

A stop for coffee.

Our car!

John says I better enjoy my coffee and finish it to the last drop at $6 each!!

Another break for the toilets - did you know that they recognize Canadians because we ask for the restroom?

Everyone we met kept telling us to get fly nets, but it wasn't until John was chatting with an Aussie bloke at this stop that we took this seriously, he said we must buy them.

We think we are smart and can see Ayer's Rock or Uluru in the distance and turn off to get a photo.
Another couple (Aussie) are there and John says now we don't need to visit it, she says "that's what we used to tell the kids".

Turns out it is Mount Conner.

Mount Conner, also known as Attila and Artilla,and occasionally found as Mount Connor, is an Australian mountain located in the southwest corner of the Northern Territory, 75 kilometres (47 mi) southeast of Lake Amadeus at the border of the vast Curtin Springs cattle station.

It reaches to 859 metres (2,818 ft) above sea level and to 300 metres (984 ft) above ground level.

Mount Conner is a flat-topped and horseshoe-shaped inselberg, part of the same vast rocky substrate thought to be beneath Uluru/Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta/Olgas.

Arrive Ayers Rock
Ayers Rock/Uluru rises 348 metres from the desert and has a girth of 9.4 kilometres. These statistics
alone assure its star role as the world's most famous monolith, yet it is estimated that at least two-thirds of the Rock lies beneath the surface.

Desert Gardens Hotel
Yulara Drive,
Ayers Rock NT 0872
A comfortable 4 star hotel at Ayers Rock Resort, Desert Gardens Hotel is set amongst magnificent ghost gums and flowering native shrubs.
Relax in the comfort of your private balcony or courtyard, or unwind near the pool over cocktails.
It's only a short stroll to the numerous lookouts, where you can view one of the best sunsets in
Australia, with the spectacular play of colours across the face of Uluru. Once the sun sets, you
can try some Australian native delicacies at White Gums Restaurant, or try one of the other 13
dining experiences available throughout the Resort.

We arrive around noon and woo hoo our room is ready. We are finally learning to let the bell boys cart our luggage and we are so glad as our room is way around the back.

We are so glad for our fly nets!! Little buggers LOVE to fly around your head.

Time for lunch.

My kangaroo slider $19 and the bread was hard as was John's.

Lamb focaccia $21. Neither of us enjoyed this lunch and it sat forever in our stomachs. Anyone who knows me knows I never complain about indigestion.

Kata Tjuta and Uluru Sunset
Transfer Type: Seat in Coach
Duration: 4 hour(s)
Pick up: 3:00pm Desert Gardens Hotel , Ayers Rock
Drop off: 7:00pm Desert Gardens Hotel , Ayers Rock

Travel to the mystical 36 domes of Kata Tjuta.

The bus is full and Pat is our driver and Joey is our guide. You have to pay $25 per person for a national park ticket. This slows up the process. Joey also insisted that everyone have at least a litre of water so we and got one.

They are full of cautions about the heat and what happens if you get dehydrated.

Kata Tjuta, sometimes written Tjuṯa (Kata Joota), and also known as Mount Olga (or colloquially as The Olgas), are a group of large domed rock formations or bornhardts located about 365 km (227 mi) southwest of Alice Springs, in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia. Uluru, 25 km (16 mi) to the east, and Kata Tjuta form the two major landmarks within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The 36 domes that make up Kata Tjuta cover an area of 21.68 km2 (8.37 sq mi), are composed of conglomerate, a sedimentary rock consisting of cobbles and boulders of varying rock types including granite and basalt, cemented by a matrix of sandstone.

The highest point, Mount Olga, is 1,066 m (3,497 ft) above sea level, or approximately 546 m (1,791 ft) above the surrounding plain (198 m (650 ft) higher than Uluru). Kata Tjuta is located at the eastern end of the Docker River Road.
On the way, stop at a lookout for panoramic views the southern side of Kata Tjuta.

I am totally fascinated with the plants growing here.

We make a bathroom break or what Joey calls the most expensive toilets in Australia, or as she called them the Dunny — The toilet, W.C., or bathroom. If someone busting to know where the dunny is, tell 'em to "follow their nose to the thunderbox".

Continue on before arriving at the base of Walpa Gorge. Spend sometime exploring the gorge and the unusual conglomerate rock formations. The walking trail through Walpa Gorge follows the natural creek between two of the tallest domes of Kata Tjuta.

2.6 km return/1 hour
This short, easy stroll leads up a rocky, gentle slope and then into a shady, moist gully.
It ends on a viewing platform between the towering domes.

Some choose to walk all or part of the way. John did the full walk.

There used to be twelve different walks here, winding through the valleys and gorges between the rocky domes. Today only two remain. The others have been closed, in part to protect the fragile environment, but mostly to allow the Aboriginal owners of the land to conduct their ancient ceremonies.

The area is not only closed for white people, it is also off limits for Aboriginal people who have no business there. Only those who are inducted to the necessary level are allowed to access certain places and only for the required ceremonies or as otherwise specified by the cultural law, Tjukurpa.

In the late afternoon travel to the Uluru sunset viewing area. Witness and photograph the striking
colour changes of Uluru at sunset whilst enjoying nibbles and a glass of wine.

This was a great setup. Each tour bus had its own table and the wine was free flowing.
As we approach.

There are some aboriginals selling some paintings. We are told that these are half the price of the same items in town and we shouldn't barter as they don't understand the concept.

 We just make it back to the hotel in time for our 8 PM dinner reservation.

Neither of us liked anything on the menu, rather rare for both of us. So we share an appetizer plate for two $40.
Crocodile, wallaby, emu and kangaroo. The croc was good, the wallaby was chopped and smoky, the emu like beef and the kangaroo still tough.