I was probably up a little later than I had expected to be, but was still away just as dawn broke. It had been a cold night, I was still ill with the flu, but at least I had been nice and warm in the sleeping bag and under the covers in my little tent. Having experienced a very cold night in central Australia many years ago, I have never gone camping again without all that I need to keep comfortable and warm. I now go prepared for all possibilities as far as cold nights are concerned, as the previous cold night in central Australia (18 years ago) was terrible and was in fact less than 100km from Uluru in June 1998. So now I have a sleeping bag I can be comfortable in (one I can fit comfortably in too – no pathetically small single-sized sleeping bag), the doona that I throw over the top and an inflatable double-sized mattress (which helps not only with rough surfaces, but also the very cold ground, which was the real issue 18 years ago). I speak of all this with car-based camping in mind of course – there is no way I would carry this sort of gear for multi-day walks and camping.
Before I could leave Marla I needed to fuel up and had a quick chat with the girl who was serving in the service station – she had been on duty all through the night. She had suggested to me the night before that I come up to the store and be in the air conditioning if it was too cold in the tent. Thankfully I didn’t need to do that, though it probably sounded as though I did – I was pretty ill with the flu and it was very easy to tell.
ABOVE: Wildflowers Just Inside the Northern Territory BELOW: Just Inside the Northern Territory
The journey today would once again involve a lot of driving, broken up by the odd geocache here and there along the way. However, the main drawcard was always going to be Uluru and I would get some tantalising glimpses before the day was out. I was very keen to reach my destination and the goal of the holiday – the red centre. So today the main stops along the way were the South Australian – Northern Territory border, Erldunda for fuel (just where the turnoff for Yulara and Uluru is, from the Stuart Highway and onto the Lasseter Highway) and also Curtain Springs for one last fuel stop before hitting Yulara. There were a few stops on the Lasseter Highway along the way for a bit of sight-seeing, especially for wildflowers, views of Mount Conner and some early glimpes of Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
ABOVE: Mount Conner in the Distance BELOW: Mount Conner
ABOVE: Mount Conner BELOW: Uluru in the Distance
On arrival in Yulara I booked in to the Ayers Rock Campground for four nights and set up my tent on a powered site. I chose to exercise restraint and not head off to Uluru straight away, choosing to both rest up for the following day and to wait until I was able to use the full 3 days that my Uluru pass would give me when I purchased it at the entrance to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park ($25.00 for an adult for 3 days). So it was a case of resting up and being ready for the base walk around Uluru the next day.
The distance travelled on this day was 503 km – giving me a total of 2872 km for the whole trip to this point.
Once again it was the usual ‘house keeping’ before bed – updating the daily journal, reviewing the holiday budget, checking in on social media, and editing and uploading photos. Then it was off to bed for an early start the next morning, with the excitement mounting, as I would arrive in Yulara the next day and be within sight of Uluru – the main goal of my holiday.
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