We were lucky. As we parked the car at Alice Springs airport after the agreed return time, the man who had hired the car to us and helped to get it started days before, just happened to be in the carpark. We fell about him offering profuse apologies. No extra charges were added to our account!
The Alice Springs Airport is delightfully airy even while you look out at a searingly dry heated landscape. Rich colours and patterns made this airport interesting to look at. Wikipedia provides factual information here.
Our destination was Connellan Airport which services the Ayers Rock Resort (Yulara) and access to Uluru (including Mititjulu) and Kata Tjuta.We were lucky in our flight choice. Very few passengers had booked on the Qantas Link plane so every guest had a spare seat next to them if they chose, and a window seat from which to see Uluru and Kata Tjuta and the wide land beneath. The attendants were relaxed and comfortable to chat (or not depending on need ) because they had time on their hands and no unruly passengers to divert their attention. The views were expansive. Grand. More salting lakes.
And then. My heart missed a beat. From the haze that monumental ‘loaf of bread’ took shape. I was on my way to Uluru (previously known as Ayers Rock). It would be days before I understood the geology of its existence as a high prominence in an otherwise flat land.Directly below, the way the vegetation dotted the land indicated to me that some aboriginal paintings are simply a realistic depiction of the randomness and the clustering and the odd open spaces between. They are not stylised symbolic depictions. They can be true representations.Phew! Another highlight. Another grand vision. There on the horizon sat the aged Kata Tjuta (previously known as The Olgas). I felt I stopped breathing. Here I was in a machine only recently invented in the bigger scheme of things, flying above one of the oldest surfaces on earth. I found all the ideas difficult to put together.The closer we flew to the ground the redder the earth seemed. We landed at Connellan Airport and red roads and red soil brightly packed itself across the landscape. I realised that when aboriginal painters use this red colour as a base, they are creating a realistic depiction of the landscape. It seems I am a ‘doubting Thomas’ who has to see to believe, to understand, and to know.
Outside the airport under the shade of a long overhang, an air-conditioned hotel shuttle bus waited for us. The driver was an excellent source of information about the Ayers Rock Resort/Yulara complex and all its services. I can see clearly that people who drive themselves here cannot know what we learnt, and therefore will not know how to get the best out of the Resort and the access to Uluru and Kata Tjuta. I am so pleased that Betty and I decided not to hire a car. Half a world of relevant and useful information would have passed us by and we would not even have realised our ignorance.
Kata Tjuta was barely visible from within the bus but it was out there, poking up from the horizon.I was in awe of the big sky. An expanse of azure. Then I spotted the moon. Stunning.Today we had travelled 600 or so kilometres from one environment to a new location. Central Australia is a huge space.