Bright and early we had breakfast and drove to the airport around 6:00 a.m. After a 3 hour flight we arrived at the airport Ayers Rock at 09:45 a.m. (note the time difference). Even as we approached to land we were able to get our first glimpse of Australia’s red heart with its landmark, the Uluru, as the Aborigines call the Ayers Rock. It consists of sandstone, unlike the Kata Tjutas just nearby whose main components are granite and basalt.
We met our first animals at the airport. Billions of flies were waiting for unwise travellers not wearing a mesh as head protection. These pests even crept into our eyes, mouth, nose and ears. That’s why we had our first stop at the visitor’s center. Everyone in the group bought a protection mesh for their head, except Nele, who didn’t think it stylish enough. She preferred to suffer, only wrapped in a scarf. Those 15 dollars turned out to be the best investment of our life. A pen knife or a multi tool was only half as valuable.
From there we drove to the camp ground, had a good lunch together with our newly-arrived tour guide and set off on a one hour hiking tour at the foot of the Ayers Rock.
We hoped to come across a lot of animals. The yield was very poor because of the heat. At any rate, we found a deadly poisonous wolf spider. This was a little crumb of comfort. Unfortunately no lizards or snakes. It seemed that only JBL expedition members wander around in the hot sand at these temperatures. The air was very dry and hot, 38-40 °C in the shade, and the stones were in parts warmed to 60-62 °C. This was even too warm for lizards. But the numerous traces in the sand were evidence that lizards do live there. We were quite confident of finding more animals early in the morning and at night. The sun doesn’t only mean life, it can also kill, as we would find out the next day. It was absolutely vital that each participant had enough water. A feeling of thirst is a sign that you’re already dehydrated. 1.25 litres were gone in one gulp.
At 6:00 p.m. we drove to a lookout point to marvel at the world-famous sunset at Ayers Rock. Since this is a very popular tourist destination we stood there with about 500 other people who were waiting for this moment with champagne and finger food. We, on the other hand, looked like real expedition members with equipment and cameras. At 06:52 the time had finally come and we all hoped that the clouds would drift away, so that the sun could illuminate the rock. We were lucky and within five minutes the beams immersed the Uluru in an unbelievable red. And the sunset itself was just as spectacular. Imagine children unable to disguise their amazement. This was what we looked like.
Straight afterwards we fled the crowds of people for the solitude of the outback and moved into our camp. Our driver did the cooking in simple tents. We unrolled our sleeping bags and fell asleep in less than three minutes. Before his eyes shut, Andreas asked: “Do snakes prefer a showered or an unshowered body?” By the way after the sunset the flies disappeared without a trace.