Saturday 19 June 2010


Up at ungodly o'clock for the red-eye to Sydney (glorious from the air - blue harbour, white city, really like actual - literary - Oz, except not green) and on to Uluru. Thanks, Qantas, for the life-jacket drill, so useful when flying over trackless waste - except when, bizarrely, suddenly there is a track, straight as a ruled line for miles and miles, linking nothing and nothing. But, to be fair, Lake Eyre is full, for once, milky white and vast, gleaming with the water that fell months ago in Queensland and startled the townspeople of Charleville, rushing in from behind and catching them unawares.

The best bit of flying in? Ayers Rock (properly called Uluru these days) from the air - just amazing, Nature's Taj Mahal. Miles and miles of dead flat desert, and then suddenly this stonking great monolith just sitting there, red and smooth and mysterious. While my camera sat in the overhead locker.

People are heading off to the sunset viewing now, to see it redden in the dying light - I'm going to watch it from my balcony. Tomorrow we'll do it properly, with the wine and nibbles and the compulsive clicking of the shutter, trying to emulate the fabulous photos displayed in the gallery here at the resort.

This afternoon I was poked and kneaded by Julienne, a proper masseur, who did me good rather than giving me a good time - just the job for bruised muscles - and filled me in on the parade of plagues they have here: ants then moths then beetles then grasshoppers then centipedes... always a new insect to look forward to.

In the excellent Visitor's Centre, I saw some of these regular visitors, plus stars like the barking spider, a mini-tarantula in looks; thorny devils, who drink through their feet; trilling frogs who wait underground for years until the rains come; wrestling goannas; and Willy Wagtail, a perky black and white bird that the label told me "typifies the Australian character: confident, jaunty, noisy, likes to pose a bit and active night and day". Hard to argue with that.

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