Wednesday – July 8, 2009 –
After a wonderful visit to Melbourne, my brother Jeff and I woke up this morning for our flight to central Australia’s Northern Territory. We walked to the Flinders Street bus station where we took the SkyBus back to the Melbourne Airport. After going through security and checking our luggage, we flew Qantas to Alice Springs at 8:40 a.m. where we arrived at 11:05 a.m. Curiously, this Australian Central Time zone is 30 minutes behind the Australian Eastern Time of the eastern states of New South Wales and Queensland.
We had some time to kill in the Alice Springs airport before our next connection. We went into a shop where we bought some souvenirs including Aussie stubby holders (koozies) and Vegemite, the Australian staple food.
Around 2 p.m., we flew on Qantas before arriving in Ayers Rock at 2:50 p.m. Upon arrival our grounds transportation took us to the Voyages Ayers Rock Resort where we would be staying at the cheapest part of the expensive resort: the Desert Gardens. After checking in, Jeff and I relaxed for a while. Jeff broke out the Vegemite as we watched the ABC television network. It tasted a bit like a Worcestershire sauce paste.
That evening, a van picked us up to transport us to our dinner for the evening about one hour before sunset. Here in the Red Centre of Australia, the sunsets are extraordinary. We were going to enjoy sunset during the “Sounds of Silence,” an award-winning dining experience. Lasting four hours, the experience including entertainment, canapés, beer, wines and non-alcoholic beverages.
We admired the breathing red colors as the sun began to set on Uluru off in the distance. A few musicians taught us how to play didgeridoo, a wind instrument developed by the aboriginal tribes of northern Australia around 1,500 years earlier. We drank in the sunset while enjoying our barbecue buffet and desserts. It truly was one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen and probably surpassed Haleakala on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
During our last hour, we had a star talk and enjoyed some of the best stargazing we had ever seen. We saw the Southern Cross, the navigational landmark of the Southern Hemisphere. We also had the opportunity to view stars with the aid of high-powered telescopes. We also witnessed a few shooting stars while learning some interesting aboriginal stories from our guides.
After the incredible sunset and nocturnal experience, we returned to the Desert Gardens Resort. We went to bed early because we had to get up early for sunrise on Thursday.