Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rotto, Uluru, Rotto again

Hi! So I am back from a very exciting few days away that was bookended by two trips to Rottnest Island.

Last Sunday we woke up early to catch the ferry over to Rotto. I loved the ferry ride and feeling the breeze from the water. We road along the Swan River and saw beautiful homes before cutting out to the Indian Ocean and crossing over to Rotto. We got off the ferry and walked toward the most famous (and most beautiful) beach called 'the Basin'. The water was unbelievably clear and we even saw some dolphins. We had packed a picnic because we were warned how expensive Rotto can be. After lying on the beach for a while we went in search of the pub and some quokkas. We found a small group of the quokkas which are like extra-large rats or very small kangaroos. They have a rat-like body (thats how Rottnest got its name-the settlers thought the island was overrun with large rats), but hop like kangaroos and use their hands like the kangas. Anyway, we tried going to the main pub, but it was closed due to a concert later that evening. We found a different pub and just relaxed until the ferry was set to leave. It was such a nice day and watching the sun set on the water was beautiful.

Monday I worked, then packed for our trip to Alice Springs/Uluru (Ayer's Rock). Tuesday we woke up and cleaned then took a taxi to the airport. It was an easy 3 hour flight, and Qantas was a great airline to fly. We took a shuttle to the hostel, which was super funky, but very clean. We quickly put our stuff down and headed out with our cameras to Anzac Hill to watch the sunset. We passed so many aboriginals (who smell terrible, its so unfortunate) and this was my first real encounter with them. After the sunset we headed back to the hostel, which is known for its cool bar and cheap menu. We then packed smaller bags for the tour and headed to bed early because we had to be on the bus by 6am. We woke up and got on the bus, along with four German girls, two 18 year old Dutch boys, an older German couple, an Italian man and eleven Taiwanese tourists. It was the tour leader's second tour ever, but everyone at the hostel raved about him, so we were pretty excited. During the drive, I saw a Red Kangaroo about 50 meters from the bus window! It was massive, but I was thrilled to finally see my first wild kanga! We also passed a rock that tourists always think is Uluru, but it isn't, so it is nicknamed Fuluru (fool-uru). Anyway, after a 700 kilometer trek, we arrived at King's Canyon for a 4 hour hike. The first leg of the hike is called 'heart attack hill' because it is so steep and takes around 20 minutes of constant climbing to summit. My friends and I led the pack, with the Italian and the Dutch behind us, the Germans just behind them, and the Taiwanese a good 15 minutes behind at all times. The views were gorgeous. At the halfway point there is a water hole called Garden of Eden, that is literally just an oasis in the middle of a very dry canyon. We swam in the water and cooled off before continuing the hike. Eventually we made it back to the bus and headed to Yulara. We set up camp and I helped the tour guide cook dinner while some of the guys built a fire. When the sunset and it grew dark, the stars became visible and were unbelievable. It was unreal how well you could see every constellation, some planets, and even the Milky Way Galaxy. Everything was so clear, it was truly outrageous. I take the five-year old to the Planetarium all the time, so I was really good at pointing out and naming a lot of the things in the sky, so it was fun to share that with the group. Anyway, after dinner we got into our swags (an insulated sleeping bag), with no tent, and were supposed to go to sleep. The only trouble was, I didn't expect to be surrounded by so many hard-shelled insects, so I started to panic. One crawled across my face (luckily I was wearing a fly net on my head) and I scrambled up and out of my bag and didn't lay down again. I was too freaked out (I even kept my sneakers on in the swag for a quick getaway). The Dutch boys and the tour guide thought this was the most hilarious thing they had ever seen and made sure to make fun of me for the rest of the trip. I stood up for the next few hours and finally tried going back to sleep, but my heart was racing and I pulled an all nighter. It was a good thing that the stars were so beautiful, or I would have been really really bored. The group was woken up at 5, so we watched sun-up and ate breakfast, then got back on the bus and headed to the Olgas (Kata Tjuta). This is a really impressive rock formation, comprised of 36 domes. It is 16 miles from Uluru, but all in the same Kata Tjuta National Park. We went on a 10 kilometer hike, which was much more gravelly than the day before, so you had to be more careful about how you stepped. Also, the flies were horrendous at the Olgas. Thank goodness for a fly net!!!! This was also a nice hike, and my friends and the Dutch boys sang Christmas and Disney songs (I have no idea why) to pass the time, and finished the hike almost an hour before some of the others. We then headed to a new campground to shower, eat lunch and set up camp. Then, we headed back to Uluru to do a quick walk, see the cultural center, cook dinner and watch the sunset. Unfortunately, it was cloudy, so we didn't get to see Uluru light up in the sun, but we were able to see a pretty nice sunset. We went back to the campgrounds to sleep, and again there were so so so many bugs. One of the German girls said that she heard I didn't sleep all night, and wondered if I wanted to sleep on the bus with her. So, to the laughter of some of the guys, we packed up our sleeping bags and set up beds on the bus benches. I slept so well!! I didn't get to see stars, but it was cloudy, so sleep was very nice. We woke up at 5 again to go watch the sunrise at Uluru. It was cold and buggy, so I had my flynet over my hoody, and the hoody pulled shut so you could only see one eye. The tour guide didn't stop laughing for an hour at how stupid I looked, but I didn't care, as long as I wasn't eating flies for brekkie!! We then made our way to the Uluru base again for a 10 kilometer base walk around the entire rim of the rock. It was a bit anticlimatic after the exciting hikes we had done the two days before. The actual climb was closed due to windy conditions (as well as the Aborginals having strong dislike of people climbing their sacred and spiritual rock-the visitor guide says "the climb is not prohibited, but we prefer that, as a guest on Anangu land, you will choose to respect our law and culture by not climbing."). I wouldn't have climbed due to insensitivity/guilt and due to the difficulty of the climb (30+ people have died on it due to heart attacks or falling!!) and you aren't harnessed to anything. Anyway, our reward for the base walk was a hot brekkie of baked beans, toast, sausages (for those who eat pork), tinned peaches, yogurt and spreads. The other days had just been bread and spreads. It was nice to taste fruit again (even if it was tinned), as I had craved it after each hike. After breakfast we knew it was time to head back to Alice Springs and had a 4 hour bus ride to look forward to. Everyone else can sleep on the bus rides, but I have trouble, so I just looked out the window and relaxed. It was a lot more green than I was expecting in the 'Red Center'. Apparently, since December 2009, they have had a wet season that has lasted far longer than ever expected. I had also finished my book on the first day (Ape House, by Sara Gruen-also author of Water for Elephants. I liked Ape House much better, and lent it to my friend on the trip, who also devoured it in one day!), so the bus ride felt like forever. Luckily, we stopped after 2 hours to look at this spiky lizard dragon thing on the side of the road, and then again at the 3 hour mark to make lunch and go for a camel ride. Me and my friend road a camel called Helly. It was $6 for 3 minutes, and the camel ran with us on it for the last part of the ride. It was histerical and so worth the small amount of money. We also got to see llamas, a dingo and three little kangaroos. This was my first time seeing a kangaroo really hop. I loved it, obviously! We soon arrived back in Alice Springs, where we checked into our rooms (they had accidentally overbooked so they had to give us private doubles instead of the 6 person dorm style rooms we had paid for. This was a lovely surprise!). We then walked around Alice Springs and then headed back for a final tour dinner at the hostel bar. It was so nice and we all drank cider and beer before calling it an early night. The next day, one of the German girls and I shared a cab to the airport. She was coming to Perth and didn't know anyone here or where to stay, so my family offered her to stay at my house for a few days. It is always nice having company here, because sometimes it can be lonely in my house at night. The dad picked us up from the airport and then let us borrow the car for the rest of the day.

Perth has such gorgeous, cloudless weather, so we decided to head up to King's Park to walk around and take pictures. She has an amazing Canon DSLR, and let me try taking pictures with it, so I had a great time walking around the cliffside park. We then went to Subiaco and drove around the river a bit. I had to babysit that night, but went to sleep immediately after I got home. I was so exhausted from not sleeping much on the tour. The parents best friend called them on Saturday morning and asked if they wanted to go to Rotto on her friends boat the next day, but they were unavailable, so their friend asked if I wanted to go (along with my friend). We, of course, accepted and got to excited when we heard that the boat owner is the fifth richest man in Australia!

Sunday we woke up and I drove us down to to Cottesloe beach for brekkie. I had amazing porridge (oats) with bruleed banana and toasted pecans on top. So yum! Then, we headed over to Fremantle to catch the boat. I was picturing a super-yacht, but it ended up being like a 39 foot older yacht. It was still nice, but not what I was expecting. We passed the guys house (I mean compound-10 million dollars at least!) on the river, so I totally expected a brand new, huge yacht. Apparently, the guy is just down to earth and has a lot of memories attached to the boat. Anyway, it was super nice of him to have us all on-it was a totally random mix of twenty-people. I was glad that not everyone knew eachother-it meant more mingling and less awkwardness. It was a gorgeous day and the ride out to Rotto was gorgeous and filled with champers (champagne). We anchored and I literally did not leave the water from them minute we anchored until we pulled up anchor a few hours later. I missed home boating a lot, but it was still fantastic to be back on a boat and in such clear, cool water. We then motored over to the pub side of Rotto and sat and watched the sunset and ate dinner. It was a perfectly lovely day and my friend who is staying with me said it was her best day in Australia in the 4 months she has been here. I agreed, it was amazing!

Monday it was back to the grind (if you can call playing with two adorable and sweet girls, 'the grind'). I work a very full day on Mondays, usually 7am until 10pm. I took the girls to the SciTech place after school, so that broke up the monotony of a long day. The little two year old knows every single word to Katy Perry's 'Firework' and this other song 'Hurry hurry hurry, now quick quick quick'. It is so so so cute and I could just eat her up with how funny she is. Tuesday I babysat then finally got to use part of my coupon for a haircut. It included dye, style, cut, head massage, etc and felt phenomenal. The hair dresser actually used to cut Isla Fisher's hair back when she grew up in Perth. He pretty much did whatever he felt like, and now I have really short hair. Its actually not that short, but in a ponytail it is so short and cute. I like it a lot!! Today I babysat for their business partner's daughter and it was the worst babysitting experience of my life. The two year old screamed for 5 hours straight and I wanted to pull my ears out of my head. I was never so excited to see a babysitter mother pull into a driveway as today. Then, I came home and my friend and I went to Grill'd for burgers. They were delicious as usual. Now we are watching Now and Then and relaxing before I go babysit for the bubba cousin tonight.

This was a very long post. I applaud you for making it through the whole thing! Does anyone have thoughts on Tulane versus UF law? Those are what I have pretty much narrowed it down to.

Kangaroo kissies and BHAPpy,
Dana xoxoxo

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