A January 2005 trip
to Australia by Slaney
Quote: This tour was run by Australian Pacific Touring (APT). It was three days and two nights, and we visited Ayers Rock, Kings Canyon, and Alice Springs.
Hotel | "Outback Pioneer Hotel"
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 22, 2005
Voyages Outback Pioneer Hotel
61 2 93391040
The restaurant, Carmichaels, on site seemed to be very expensive, and I don't think anyone from our party ate there. The brochure also states that there is a George Gill Bar and an Outback BBQ and Grill, but these were closed. (I did hear the coach drivers talking about problems with the restaurant as we were exchanging passengers. There may be a staff problem, as the resort is quite isolated). Luckily, there was a filling station with a café and bar, with Internet access, and small supermarket a 5-minute walk down the road. We were too late to eat in the cafe, so we got provisions from the supermarket.
The brochure also states that camel rides and quad bike rides are available at Kings Creek Station 37km down the road and can be booked through reception. I also believe there is a swimming pool.
Kings Canyon Resort
Luritja Road Watarrka National Park
Northern Territory 0871
+61 (8) 8956-7442
The swimming pool has palm trees and an island in the middle. There is a golf course close by, and it is 1km from the town centre. There is a small shop in reception and a free shuttle to the airport.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2005
Desert Palms Resort
74 Barrett Drive
Alice Springs, Australia
+61 8 8953 4176
Attraction | "The Olgas and Sunset at Ayers Rock"
The Olgas - known as Kata Tjuta to the aboriginals - is 36 domes and is believed to be a rock many times larger than Uluru (Ayers Rock). The bus pulled in to a park area, and we were allowed to walk up through the Olga Gorge, which most of our people did. The sheer walls rose above us, and the heat was so intense that we were glad to sit under what little shade there was on our return and gaze out at the red, barren landscape. The water we were advised to bring was now warm, but Gordon had some ice-cold water in the back of the coach which everyone was glad of.
By this time, it was time to make our way to the viewing area of the sunset to ensure a good view. On arrival, we were taken to a table laden with nibbles, such as vegetable strips, crackers, and dips, and each person was given a glass of wine - refills were available.
It was very pleasant out in the desert, sipping wine and conversing with other travellers whilst watching the rock change different colours of red as the sun set.
Then it was back to the hotel for an early night as we had a date with the sunrise in the morning.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on February 22, 2005
Ayers Rock Tour
Ayers Rock, Australia
Attraction | "The Sunrise "
There is a proper viewing area, but most people just stayed at the side of the road. I couldn't believe how many people there were, some were on the roof of a jeep, some sat on car fronts for warmth - it wasn't cold, but a wool jacket was nice.
After the sunset, we were taken to the rock climb, where one or two energetic people alighted to climb (the aboriginals consider Ayers Rock an ancient site and do not like people to climb it), the rest went on to walk AROUND the rock and look at aboriginal drawings and different rock formations.
We opted for the latter and were shown the waterhole at Mutitjulu which never dries up, ancient cave paintings, and told of aboriginal legends of Kuniya Tjukurpa, which is python dreaming and also learnt story of the Mala people who once lived at Uluru.
The next stop was Kantju Gorge - a sacred water hole and to find sand lizzards, which our driver said frequented the area and although we looked very hard, we never saw any.
The Aboriginal Interpretive Centre was the next port of call. Here we could have coffee and refreshments and wander round, looking at the aboriginal way of life. No photos were not allowed, as the aboriginals are very private people, although there were photos on the walls in the centre. There was also a shop with aboriginal crafts for sale, as well as books, postcards, and clothes.
Back at the hotel, we managed to buy a burger and a beer and relax at the poolside before the next leg of our journey.
Attraction | "Kings Canyon"
This start was at 5am, ready to go at 5:40am to Kings Canyon. Apparently an early start is advisable due to the intense heat.
On arrival we had a choice of two walks. The one requiring a good level of fitness was along the rim of the canyon to the Lost City and Garden of Eden, and the other easier walk was along the canyon floor.
We opted for the latter and found it a bit boring. We were escorted by our coach driver Gordon and saw ghost gum trees while he told us about flash floods he'd been caught in. He was very knowledgeable, but we wished we'd done the rim walk.
Back at the hotel, there was time to relax on the balcony over breakfast before joining the coach again for the trip to Alice Springs. The road to Alice was so straight, with about three vehicles on it the whole way. Apart from seeing a sand lizard walking across the road and about 30 dead kangaroos at the roadside, the most interesting event of the journey to Alice was seeing a dingo eating a recently killed kangaroo on the outskirts of Alice.
There are three hotels at the resort, which are quite well camouflaged in the middle of the desert. The standard hotel is Outback Pioneer, the first-class one is Desert Gardens, and the deluxe is Sails in the Desert. There are also camping grounds.
As APT stipulates, your arrival at the airport must be before 1pm, so everyone seemed to be arriving at once, and it took some time to check in. After leaving our luggage in our room, we caught the free shuttle bus to across the resort, where there were shops, cafés, and a supermarket, to get some water for the afternoon trip. The Outback Pioneer has a restaurant (which is quite expensive), a barbecue, and a bar and a burger hut (very slow), but water is cheaper from the supermarket. On our return, we just had time to grab a burger before meeting our bus for the Olgas and sunset trip.
People joined the trip from different points; some came by coach from Alice Springs, some joined after the Kings Canyon stay (they were just doing the Ayers Rock part) and others, like us, did the whole trip. We were a mixed age group with Americans. There were Australians as well, but the majority was British. Most were very friendly, and we seemed to get on pretty well.
Our walk took us by the side of the Todd river bed and by some open ground, where, to my delight, I saw a flock of wild parrots. They were grey with red flashes. Then a flock of emerald green ones flew by, and then a flock of white cockatoos - it was wonderful to see them flying free. The date farmers have to cover the dates as they are growing, or the parrots eat them.
At one of the hotels, there are wallabies which come down from the hills to be fed. I did feel a bit threatened whilst we walked back to the hotel in the dark, as there were groups of aborigines gathering and one or two approached us, trying to sell things.
There is a cafe where we were told kangaroo burgers, which are very healthy, would be on offer; however, they were out of them, so most of us settled for a bacon sandwich. There is a small indoor seating area and one or two chairs and tables outside. There are also restrooms.
They have a few captive kangaroos, which were languishing in the shade; camels, which were for hire - one or two in our party had a ride round the enclosure; a cockatoo in a cage; and a few dogs wandering round. It was enough to occupy us for the three-quarters-of-an-hour break in our journey.
Sheffield, United Kingdom