Friday, 28 April, 2017

Alice Springs, Australia

The day to visit Uluru had arrived, and as this was probably number two on my list of things to do in Australia, behind trying out their fish & chips, I was pretty excited. We had travelled 1,577 km, so I feel like we had very much earned the privilege – although, you may hear a different sentiment coming from Bertie the suicidal bird’s family nest right about now. RIP.

We woke with the morning sun, tucked into a couple of slices of jam on bread and then headed over to the main attraction. The rock looked absolutely fantastic – I, however, did not. I was hot, sticky and I hadn’t showered for three days. I stunk – and despite all of that, I seemed to be the most popular guy in the national park.

Not among the humans, they kept their distance – many of them had probably also travelled 1,577 km and didn’t want the stench of my armpits to ruin their experience; which is probably fair enough. I was never the smelly kid in school (I think), and I knew to listen to my nose when it told me who to avoid sitting next to during geography class – so, I kind of understood my lack of popularity in that moment.

The flies though, well, they bloody loved me – I felt like a moving giant cow turd throughout my time at Uluru. It didn’t hinder the experience too much; I still got to admire the rock. The flies would not let me stink discreetly though – they started a party on my back, invited their friends, who in turns asked their colleagues to join – within ten minutes of stepping out of the car, I had flies forming conga lines and starting Mexican waves around my t-shirt.

When I did finally get a shower – I won’t tell you how many days later – it was the best feeling I’ve ever had. You should all go to work for a week without washing. Sure, you may look like crap, co-workers will avoid you and you’ll attract more flies than customers. However, for the feeling of that shower – it’s worth it. It’s kind of like heroin. Yes, there may be a few people disappointed in your choice, but, the high is superb (that’s an assumption – I’m not as familiar with heroin as I am being stinky).

I reckon the aboriginals that lived at the rock were probably pretty smelly too, if I’m honest. It’s extremely hot, dry and there is very little water anywhere close by. There isn’t exactly a shop selling soap or deodorant near to the rock either – I know because I checked. So there you have it, a little bit of history for you – the aboriginals living at Uluru were probably a bit whiffy. Temperatures reach as high as 47°C there in the summer!

I didn’t shower because I didn’t want to compromise my values for the discriminative rich person prices the accommodation was demanding in the Uluru area – pretty honourable, I would say. However, while the lack of shower had more of an impact on others, I was also made to pay later in the day for my cost-cutting ways. My two dollar flip-flops broke – both of them gave up too, so I couldn’t even hop. I had to walk around the park barefooted.

Weirdly enough, this isn’t uncommon in Australia. Lots of people walk around with no shoes on – it is anybody’s guess as to why. It can be a bit awkward when you reach down to get a can of soup from the bottom shelf in the supermarket, and you’re suddenly bent into some kind of jungle-man’s bare dirty feet – but, whatever, to each their own.

The experience wasn’t for me though. My feet are more delicate to sharp rocks and blistering heat than I ever knew. I gave it a fair crack, but I probably won’t be walking around without shoes when I’m back in Yorkshire – there is too much glass on the floor from all the smashed car windows for one.

Anyway, let’s actually try and talk a bit about the big rock shall we. We got a three-day pass so were really able to take our time and explore the whole national park – not only does this include Uluru, but also Kata Tjuta, a group of large ancient rock formations close by.

I wanted to get really descriptive about the details and beauty of the iconic landmarks, but it’s not really my forte. Instead I’ve typed pretty into thesaurus, so here are some generic responses thought up by the computer on my behalf –  the rocks are beautiful, cute, charming, pleasant – I wouldn’t have gone with the word ‘cute’ personally, but it’s out of my hands at this point.


Kata Tjuta

After Uluru, we went to Alice Springs. A lovely town, that is particularly great if you’re into aboriginal artwork – many of the paintings on display are beautiful, cute, charming and pleasant. Accommodation in Alice Spring was once again pricey though, so we stayed in a campsite close by – where our only other company was a retired British couple, with a huge caravan.

They invited us to join them for a cup of tea, which turned to beer, and then later rum – after the usual small talk, the conversation moved onto opinions on Uluru. Well, they say that people share their true feelings on a subject after a drink, and I did. I really displayed my hatred of flies – I sounded like an old, bitter, racist man – I hated everything about them. In that moment, I would have kicked an angel in the head just for having wings.

After hearing my words, he nodded and poured me another rum, before simply saying, “I understand.” He then suddenly turned into some wise old wizard, “I was you once.” He proceeded to get out of his chair and walked over to his top cupboard, opened it and it was filled with identical cans of bug spray. Bloody hell, had I just talked my way into a pitch?

“This is the best stuff you can get, I always buy tons of the stuff whenever we go away.” He gave me the spray as a parting gift, touched me on the shoulder and said, “You’ll appreciate this more than any rum you’ve drank tonight.”

It was a very odd end, to an otherwise pretty ordinary social gathering – that said, he was not wrong – this spray is incredible. The flies are now nowhere to be seen. I can stink, and the flies don’t give me away at all – those around me can smell my odor, but can no long identify it to be my stench. These days I just hold my nose and point at Monica whenever somebody passes by.

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