Uluru... We love u...

Our visit to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) is lit up with sunsets, red sand and the company of our Sydney mate, Giant Josh,who flies in to join the BiharysOnTour for three days. Respecting Aboriginal wishes, we do not climb the mighty Rock, which reaches 348 metres high. Instead we opt to walk its circumference – a gruelling 10+ kilometres, mostly in full sun, which takes its toll on all of us but still gives rise to an undeniable, unparalleled sense of achievement on completion. The next day, at Kata Tjuta, we cut our losses and do two shorter walks instead of another circuit - the first into the Walpa Gorge and the second into the Valley of the Winds. Both give us a good appreciation of what we dub “the challah rocks”, and are in fact 36 weathered domes, reaching even higher than Ayers Rock at 548 metres.

Other incidents that leave us basking in the Red Centre glow include:
• Falling for the oldest Aussie trick in the book, mistaking Mount Conner for Uluru as we drive into the red centre.
• Spotting countless bunny rabbits and bush mice around our caravan at night; and a long awaited camel in the wild - finally!
• Capturing the magnificence of Uluru from every angle, at every time of day, and on every camera available: handheld, tripod and telephone.
• Seeing the kids captivated by Giant Josh’s impromptu science lesson, and surging with naches as they regurgitate it with impressive accuracy during our Uluru walk-a-thon.
• A mix-up regarding late cancellation providing the perfect excuse for Budge and Josh to enjoy a big Boys-Night-Out sleepover at the Sails Hotel.
• Holding a celebratory Shabbat dinner in honour of Giant Josh’s upcoming 40th birthday, including a rendition of yet another “original composition” birthday song by Benji.
• Rikki riding back and forth to the van park office to change her savings into different denominations after she and Jack develop a somewhat incessant obsession with money … ten twenty cents please… four fifty cents please… twenty ten cents please… one two dollar coin please… (Still baffled as to how we escaped being kicked out of the park!).
• Budge’s great Saturday night football debacle – tuning the TV to pick up channel seven, only to discover that it wasn’t being telecast after all – then heading to the pub with sixteen screens, only to discover that they were all interlinked and set to the rugby – then deciding to drown sorrows in a beer, only to discover that Sam had earlier emptied the wallet for a supermarket shop. (And this, after discovering a fellow-die-hard St Kilda supporter who hailed from Melbourne and whose kids went to school with those of our ex-neighbours, and inviting him to watch on the TV at our van…).
• Getting so used to having the Rock suddenly appear – in the window, over a hill, around the bend – that we soon couldn’t shake the eerie sensation that it was - in some strange pythonesque way - actually following us.

The flash of inspiration on our last morning to engage the kids in sensory artwork using glue, red sand and leaves whilst the van is being packed up means that the memory of Uluru and Kata Tjuta will linger for weeks – not just in our minds, but in our couch, our beds and the corners of the floor. No matter. The Rock Rocks!

Our first visit to the sunset lookout at Uluru. The heads of Budge and Giant Josh just visible behind the kids, as they set up their tripods side by side. 
Celebrating Josh's big four-Oh with a birthday apple crumble.
Sketching the rock as another day ends.
A good likeness, no?
Another good likeness, eh!
Budge and his trusty tripod took a staggering number of photos of the sun setting across Uluru. This is just one of them.
This is another.