The taxi collected us promptly at 5.45am for the 6.50am flight to Ayers Rock. Only when we arrived at the airport, did John remember that Australia’s clocks went forward an hour for summer! We both felt a chill down our spines, as we realised that we must have missed the flight. But no! Queensland is alone in that it doesn’t bother with daylight saving. “No worries, you’re right”, said the check-in clerk, as we hastily presented our bags.
Relieved, we sauntered through to the departure lounge. John went to by a cup of coffee. He had only just paid for it when, to our astonishment, the tannoy announced the ‘last call’ for our flight – it was just 6.05am! John gulped down his coffee, and we grabbed our bags.
We were barely in our seats, when the doors were closed, and the plane began to taxi towards the runway. It was 6.15am!! (We later discovered that the timetable had been altered to take into account the effects daylight saving in the rest of Australia.)
At Ayers Rock, we waited in line while a group of Belgians disputed a criminal AUS$125 surcharge made by “Thrifty” for bringing their hire car to the airport from the Outback Pioneer Resort, 5km down the road!
We had no such problems, and we drove straight from the airport to the Rock. It was not our first sighting. Rather agreeably, incoming and outgoing flights tend to make a complete (and apparently unnecessary) circuit of the airport, so that passengers on both sides of the aircraft get a decent view, of this extraordinary red boil sticking out of the central Australian desert.
We did intend to do the walking tour, but having ‘oohed and arghed’ appreciatively, we spent some time visiting the imaginative and educational aboriginal cultural centre.
The drive to Alice Springs took 5 hours, and by the time we arrived at the Red Centre Resort, we were both very hot and tired. We dined in, intending an early night in preparation for a tour of Kings Canyon tomorrow.