Monday, April 02, 2012

Travelogue: Australia – Weekend Side Trip: Uluru – Part 1, Getting There

“Getting there is half the fun!”

Whoever said that was an idiot. Perhaps I am not being fair, who knows? They lived before the days of air travel; or perhaps they just had some truly poorly planned holidays!

Oh, sure, a train trip across the desert southwest or the Rocky Mountains gives you lovely scenery and the chance to meet with some really interesting people. And there is nothing that can beat a good old-fashioned road trip; just you and a mate head out on the open road in a random direction.

But sitting in a departure lounge waiting for them to call the flight is not my idea of fun. Nor is being herded into the plane along with hundreds of other people into a tight, enclosed space which – in ways that have been engineered for maximum discomfort – will actually get smaller as the trip progresses. By the time the flight departs, the plane will have shrunk to approximately half its original size and by time of arrival, the passengers burst-out like the seed fluff from an over-ripe cat tail!

The affects of travel can be somewhat offset by the anticipation of your arrival at the end of the trip, or by interesting things to see and do on the way. For example, where but in an Australian airport would you come across a coin-operated wombat ride?

You try to pass the time reading, playing games on your electronic devices, and exploring the airport, but until you are airborne, it is really not a relaxing situation.

On the flight to Uluru one can truly get an idea of the immensity of the place. Australia is HUGE! And it is mostly empty. You pass over the red-stained interior and seen miles and miles of nothing much. The monotony is occasionally broken by a mountain, a lake, or a river. But mostly it is red nothingness. You may as well be flying over the Martian landscape.

One interesting thing that I noticed shortly before landing was the salt flats that dot the Northern Territory. If I properly remember my basic geology courses from college, their presence here would indicate that the entire place used to be covered by ocean; an ocean trapped on land by the surrounding hills and evaporated here leaving nothing but its minerals behind.

We land at the Ayers Rock airport and are here! “Airport” doesn’t really capture it… It is more like a bus depot with no garage and a long street behind it that planes occasionally land at. For those of you who are familiar with my part of the world, this place makes St. Cloud Airport look like the Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta! This place is small! I think that perhaps Altoona, PA is the only airport I have ever been in that is smaller.

But unlike any of those places, you can see Uluru from the apron as you get off the plane. At St. Cloud, all you can see is the corn!

If you have checked luggage, you collect it in the terminal and head out to the courtesy bus. But that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Wherever you are this morning I hope that you have had an adventure this weekend!

Don Bergquist – 02 April 2012 – Canberra, ACT, Australia

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