Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Heart of Australia

Leaving the beautiful blue Coral Sea and flying to The Alice was definitely a change of scenery.  But there are reminders of home and certainly the desert of Australia is much like Utah, Nevada and Arizona.  Alice Springs has a high Aboriginal population, but tourists from all over the world were everywhere.  Everyone carried backpacks and water bottles and wore hats.  We fit right in.

This bird was on the sidewalk by a mall and we were trying to figure out if he was lost.  But several of his friends were around, so apparently he had not overshot the rainforest.  

One amazing stop was the School of Air.  This is where all of the students in Australia that live in the far away places go to school over the computer - used to be radio but they have upgraded.  The top photo is the Principal in front of the quilt the students had made.  The second is the computer screen with the students that are being taught at that moment.  We had fun watching the kids interact with the teachers.  Two classes were going on simultaneously and these students had just checked in - they are the kindergarten age kids and live anywhere from 120 - 200 k's from Alice.
The first overland telegraph wires came through Alice Springs connecting Darwin with Adelaide.  This was the first telegraph office and Elder Feil is practicing his Morse Code.  

 These are the Australia version of English saddles.  We thought our cowboy friends and relatives would enjoy this shot - there you go Aunt Norma.  :)

The Church in Alice is beautiful and we noticed some missionary cars and took a moment to stop in and say hi to this District.  The older couple were going home on Monday and the District Leader was from Lehi!  The tall Sister is from the same ward in Singapore as our Elder Woo in  the ASNM.  The Church keeps us all close.
We have been told that these snakes are highly poisonous.  We had stopped at the side of the road for a picture of the scenery and noticed him.  At first we thought he was dead, but I did not open the door to find out and took this pic out my open window.  No, Casey, I did not look at the shape of his eyes.  I did not dare to get that close.  

The dry riverbeds are just waiting for the next rain storm.  Rainy season is just coming on so hopefully they will have some in the next month or so.

The sun was so hot coming through the windows that we had to cover our arms to keep them from burning.  We had put on our sunblock, but it was still too hot.  

Another beautiful sunset in Australia with some guy in the way!

The Kings Canyon Rim Walk was challenging, hot but beautiful.  It was good exercise in a stark, desert setting.
Looking down into the Garden of Eden of Kings Canyon.  It was a shady and cooler place to rest.

Here it is, the Garden of Eden.  A gorgeous place in a dry area of Australia.  The water is held in this canyon - reservoirs in reserve for the dry season.  We should all do the same.

What is this?  A guy at "the gate".  Why is the gate here? Who knows? It was easy to open and continue the hike.
Looking down to the canyon floor after climbing, climbing, climbing.
 It was very windy on top.  Hold on to your hats!
The camera timer works very well to get a great "selfie".

Almost there.  It was a long, dusty, windy and hot hike but we made it.
 We think we'll pass on this track.  Others will take the time and energy to hike this one.

We met another friend on the trail.  He was just waiting to greet anyone on the trail.  Nice pose!
It's been a great day together and we're still standing.  Whew!!! The rim walk was 5.5 k's and the canyon floor was 2 k's.  We are almost back in shape.

The reception where we checked into our "cabin".  We actually paid for an upgrade which made it a motel room.  It was well worth the cost.

This little dingo wanders around because he can't find his mother or he's been abandoned or his mother died.  He was just hanging out at the gas station.

 Aborigines demonstrating traditional dances at Yulara.  Yulara is the town that has been created to access Uluru but still keep enough distance.  It is about 20 K's from Uluru.
Then the crowd was invited to participate in the activity.  Sister Feil is doing a great imitation of an Emu.  You go girl!
 Then it was time for the men to show their stuff. Nice try, Elder Feil, at imitating a kangaroo.  It was a dusty experience.
A nice young lady snapped this shot of us in front of Uluru.  It's a large, sacred rock in the middle of the Australian outback.  We made it to the heart of Australia.  

Our timing was perfect to have a full moon arising next to Uluru.
 We didn't like the aggressive flies that harrassed us as we walked around Uluru, about 10.4 kilometers. These people bought the fly nets to cover their faces, the main point of attack.  We thought they looked silly and weren't worth the $9.95 people paid.  We realized we were wrong about 5.5 kilometers as we fought the flies and lost!  Buy the net hats!
 Our guides, two park rangers, explained the aborigine beliefs and daily life routines.

 About 25 kilometers from Uluru are other rock formations called the Olgas or Kata Tjuta. We managed to walk into this canyon.
We snapped this "selfie" after getting into this same canyon at Kata Tjuta.

What can we say?  Another wonderful sunset in Australia.
 These are the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) from a distance.
Here's the fine double bed in our cabin at the Ayers Rock Campground.  It's great to live simply!
 And here's our kitchen/dining room/lounge area.  We needed nothing and were grateful for an airconditiong unit as the temps soared to 43 C.
Hate to say it, but here's another beautiful sunrise while in Uluru.  We woke up at 4:30am and realized that we were struggling to sleep. So we got up, dressed, and drove to Uluru to walk around the Rock. 

The moon was setting, the sun was rising, and we were caught inbetween trying to take pictures of both!  
 About half way around Uluru, there's a "rest stop".  
 A shot of Uluru and some old guy.  It was still hot and those pesky flies were continually on attack mode!
As we got close to the end of our walk around Uluru the scenery changed somewhat-more trees, fallen rocks, sand.  Oh, and also a cute little snake who likes the walking path, too.  He is probably poisonous but small.  :)

Parts of Uluru get blackened, mostly caused by moisture after rainfall which leaves deposits.  We were able to finish the 10 K walk around Uluru in 2 hours and 5 minutes!  We just keep on truckin!
Unwanted passengers that at least weren't in my face.
Elder thought he was swishing them away, but they were all hiding on the top of his hat!  
So long to Uluru.  We are now heading back to Sydney for one night before starting the next leg of our travel.  This rock is a sacred place for the Aboriginal people as well as Australians.  It is located in the most remote, far away place but people fly, drive, and take trains to get there and see it.  We are blessed to have been able to do the same.  As we ponder the paths our feet have taken over the past weeks, we remember the words of Thomas S Monson, "We will have no doubt that we are on a path which our Father would have us follow.  The Savior's example provides a framework for everything that we do, and His words provide an unfailing guide.  His path will take us safely home."  We hope that all of you are on that same path.  Love to all and keep on walking...
Elder and Sister Feil