Alice Springs, AU – Friday, Feb 21st, 2014

It took me 5 hours over 3 days to get the photos for this post uploaded.  I have 10 more posts ready to go but not enough time in the day to get completed before I leave for home Thursday.  I will try to get as much done as I can.  Posts will continue when I get back along with uploading the rest of my photos to SmugMug.

As expected, the alarm clock came way too early.  I am picked up at 6:05am by Craig from Alice Wanderer.  The bus is a little bigger than the one I took from the airport but I can still transfer rather easily to the step then to the floor then the seat.  There are 9 people on the bus for the day tour to Uluru.  The bigger bus will come in handy later in the trip.

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Our first stop is in about 1 hour at Stuarts Well for breakfast.  We meet the second bus that has 7 people taking the 2 day tour to Uluru, Kaja Tjuta and Kings Canyon.  Stuarts Well has one step I need help up to the eating area and does not have an accessible bathroom.  The parking lot is packed red clay and gravel and not too difficult to wheel on.

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We get back on the road after about 45 minutes and have another break 1 hour down the road at a Shell station.  They do have an accessible bathroom at the gas station.  We stop in 1-1/2 hours for morning tea over looking Table Top Mountain.

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We are now only 1 hour from Uluru.  Everyone boards the second bus driven by John for our trip to Uluru.  John will also be our guide through Uluru and Kaja Tjuta.  Craig drives to Yulara to get rooms for the people taking the 2 day tour and sleep to be able to drive the people for the 1 day trip back to Alice Springs.  There our normally 2 drivers for the day tour, one driver to drive to Uluru and give the tour, the other to drive home.  The second driver was sick so while we were touring with John, Craig rested up for the drive home.  We arrive at the park around 12:45pm and stop at the sunset viewing area for a few photos of Uluru since there will be a huge crowd later for the actual sunset.

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The flies are horrible.  They go for any area where there’s moisture on your face eyes, ears, mouth and nose.  I try a product called, Desert Blend, which is supposed to be the best fly repellent.  It works ok but I might have to use the head net I bought.  We start at the Aboriginal Culture Center to learn the history of Uluru.  There are no photos allowed inside the Culture Center or at various historical sites around the park.  It’s hard packed red clay to get to the Culture Center and the inside is accessible with accessible bathrooms.

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We have lunch outside the Culture Center before heading to sites around Uluru.  We go see the Waterhole which is fairly accessible but with a few steep ramps.  The red clay is pretty easy to wheel on but it gets everywhere.

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The flies are getting worse and I have to break out the head net.  Not the most attractive thing but it keeps the flies off your face.  Then we visit Kulpi Minymaku (the kitchen cave) and Kantju Gorge.

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The last stop is where people have the opportunity to climb Uluru.  With this being a sacred site for the Aboriginal People they requested you do not climb and respect their beliefs.  Also, 40 people have died climbing Uluru to date.  Uluru is much bigger than just what you see, the rest of the rock is 5 km underground.

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After a 40 minute ride we are at Kaja Tjuta.  This is not accessible at all.  I can only go about 50 yards through the rough terrain until a steep incline and big rocks stop me.  The rest of the group hikes through the gorge.  They return after about a 30 minute hike.

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It’s getting close to sunset so we head back to our first stop at Uluru, the sunset viewing area.  John sets up a nice spread of champagne, cheese and crackers for our group to enjoy while watching the nice sunset at Uluru.

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The 9 people on the day tour have small nice dinner by the bus before heading to meet Craig for our long ride back to Alice Springs.  We meet Craig and change back to our bigger bus for our return journey.  I stay awake on the ride back while everyone else sleeps.  Craig and I see a lot of kangaroos by the side of the road on the way and slow down to look.  We did not have the chance to slow down once while traveling at 95 km/hr.  We both see the kangaroo too late and it jumps directly in the path of the bus.  This is where the bigger bus came in handy for the people on the bus but not the kangaroo.  The bus was equipped with a steel guard on front and did no damage to the bus.  The kangaroo was killed instantly.  There are millions of wild kangaroos in Australia and this does happen on the open roads.  Once we get close to Alice Springs I check my email on my phone and may have an interview with Sports ‘N Spokes wheelchair magazine.  Thanks to Dan for sending an email to the editor.  I get dropped off by Craig at 1:45am.  After a long day in the hot weather, dealing with flies and red clay everywhere I get clean up before going to bed.

The tour with Alice Wanderer was great.  I did not need much help but Craig and John were very helpful when needed.  John was very knowledgeable and had a bunch of information about Uluru and Kaja Tjuta.  Not being able to make it to the gorge was disappointing but the trip was till worth it.  If you are able to transfer from your chair and bump up/down steps this tour is possible.  The red clay is not difficult to wheel on just gets everywhere.  Then the flies.  The most annoying part of the trip but you just have to deal with it.  The head net worked the best and recommend getting one to make the trip more enjoyable.

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