Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Ghan, Katherine Gorge and Uluru

The Red Centre, Uluru and travelling on the Ghan was something that I had longed to do, the more I got the taste of travel. Given that Australia has such a vast array of travel experiences at our doorstep, it's pretty remiss that so many of us have yet to see our own backyard.

This is a trip that I completed in August in maybe 2004, and I started it by flying up to Darwin to visit Braiden and Paul. After a few nights hanging out with them, I then boarded The Ghan, the great train journey from the top of Australia and through the middle. On arrival I found that there had been a mix-up with my booking and as a consequence I was given a twin Red Seater cabin all to myself, which meant a sleeper instead on the planned seat I had booked. Bonus! This meant that I had someone come and convert the little space with a bed, after being able to take in the passing Northern Territory from the window in blissful peace.

Leaving Darwin in the morning, the train made a lunchtime stop at Katherine, where I disembarked and joined a cruise in the beautiful Katherine Gorge, which was all arranged from the train.

Back on the train for the overnight portion, we arrived in Alice Springs in the morning where I joined a camping tour for a couple of days, to see Uluru and Kings Canyon. This wasn't hard core camping, but in luxury established tents, shower blocks, and with meals provided.

I had long decided that I would not climb the rock, in respect for our Indigenous brothers and sisters and their beliefs about the sacredness of this big stone in the middle of our country. As we reached the Uluru area we first visited the Cultural Centre, which highlighted this importance, but also provided further background to my rudimentary school-provided overview of Indigenous Australian culture and customs.

I walked around the circumference of Uluru, which was such a magical experience. The colours, the shadows, the quiet, and the feeling of being connected to the land and nature was so strong. The different personalities of the rock with each arc was surprising, and only reinforced the significance of this place to our country and to our Indigenous people. So beautiful.

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