On the last stretch of almost ruler straight road, the high bodied four wheel drive bus driven by Sam, the guide, pulled into a road house, where Camel Burger was the day’s delicacy. ‘Try it,’ she said, ‘it’s delicious!’
Reluctantly, we tried one and she was right. With a slightly different taste and texture to the regular beef burger, it was juicy and succulent.
Then onwards to the Wilderness Lodge where we were to stay for that night in tents! After being introduced to the manager we were escorted to our accommodation, although this was not a regular tent with sleeping bags. It included a double bed, air conditioning and a regular bathroom complete with shower.
At the side of the footpaths leading to our accommodation were holes dug in the sand. We were told that they were made by monitor lizards that only came out when the weather was good. We did not see any so we guessed the weather was going to be bad.
As it would be too hot to take the canyon rim tour during the day we piled into the 4WD and walked through the canyon bottom that afternoon. The temperature stood at about 40°C, the heat trapped between the 300 feet canyon walls, as Sam pointed out various items of interest, one of them being where we would be climbing 1,500 natural steps to reach the top. We thought she was joking!
Very early the next morning, we had breakfast in the station house, then headed back to the canyon to arrive once it was light enough but before the sun rose. Thence we commenced the climb. I don’t know if the figure of 1,500 steps was correct; I lost count at about 250. Twice we took a break , once at roughly half way where Sam rewarded us with a lolly (Australian boiled sweet), and again at the top where we watched the sun rise over the high walls of the canyon.
The views were spectacular from this height above the desert floor and the canyon walls glowed red-brown in the early morning sun as we marched on through fantastically shaped rocks, all the while skirting the sheer cliffs. At one point, where the ground was more or less flat, we came upon a grounded helicopter with the pilot and an engineer working in the open engine casing. Apparently the aircraft had developed a fault and had succeeded in making an emergency landing on one of the few flattish areas in this rock-strewn landscape. Then down onto the floor of the canyon via carefully positioned wooden steps before stopping for a breather in the ‘Garden of Eden,’ where a pool of water glistened blackly and vegetation, including trees, grew profusely round it. There we had a packed lunch before climbing (wooden steps again) to the opposite rim and eventually down (less steeply) to the car park where the bus waited patiently for our return.
The next stop would be Uluru (Ayers Rock).
by Terry Took © 2013
Terry Took was born in Yorkshire but has lived in Tynemouth for over 50 years. He spent 45 years in the Merchant Navy which included 27 years as North Sea Pilot. He then spent five years as a lecturer at the Marine Department of South Tyneside College.
He is now an Elder Brother in Trinity House and Marine Director.
If you have any comments or would like to contact Terry then please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.