Friday 28 February 2014 90 °F
Today my family and I woke up bright and early to catch a very nice flight on Qantas Airways from Cairns to Ayers Rock. Since we had a spacious plane and it is a very unpopular route, the flight was very relaxed, I got an entire row all to myself, and they even served breakfast on board--a total surprise!
Here is the odd desert landscape of central Australia with salt lakes and various rock formations, viewed from the plane:
As we were approaching our destination, we had our first look at the purely majestic Ayers Rock:
As soon as we got out of the airport, we were expecting it to be pleasantly hot and to have great views of the rock. Well, we did (it turned out to actually be 90 degrees outside, an 80 degree temperature difference from our home near Chicago back in the US and the hottest day on our travels so far). But the thing is, we had one very, very unpleasant surprise. THE BUGS. Those gosh darn little flees are EVERYWHERE, and there are simply multitudes of them! Fifty of them immediately swarm your face as soon as you step outside. It is truly agonizing and maddening, and the pesky little buggers added a strong negative tint to our family's usually positive attitude.
Our first stop was at the Uluru Cultural Center. Uluru is the aboriginal name for Ayers Rock, and the rock is very sacred to the aboriginals. The cultural center had a beautiful display of aboriginal art and played a meaningful video of how much the rock was revered by the aboriginals. It provided them with a beautiful home and a religious way of life. Throughout the entire video, seeing that the aboriginals' traditional clothing is very...er...scant, I was wondering how they fought off all of the flies.
Sadly, taking photographs of the art in the cultural center was not allowed.
Here is a photo of Ayers Rock from the cultural center:
I saw this YELLOW-THROATED MINER there:
And also this CRESTED PIGEON:
Our second stop was to buy veils to put around our heads and faces in order to protect us from the bugs. They worked very well, but the bugs were still extremely irritating on our arms and legs.
Our third stop was at a hike to a billabong (water hole) at the base of Ayers Rock. I saw this ZEBRA FINCH along the way:
As well as this PIED BUTCHERBIRD, which looks like a mini Australian Magpie:
Here is the view of the billabong at the end of the trail just in front of Ayers Rock:
After we checked in to our hotel, I snapped a shot of this fledgling WILLIE WAGTAIL from our hotel window. It put on quite a show, begging for food from the adult.
The rest of the day was spent swimming [mostly underwater] in the hotel pool and having a good pizza dinner. My mom and dad went out to see the rock at sunset, which apparently was stunning, but I stayed back at the hotel to put my little sister, Pearl, to bed.
Bird-of-the-day to the Yellow-throated Miner.
Stay tuned for an interesting post tomorrow to see how my full day in the Land of Bugs will pan out.
World Life List: 607 Species (7 life birds today)