The second marvel of our dream trip was to stand at Uluru,
which I knew as Ayers Rock from my elementary geography book.
Uluru is simply a place named in the language of local Aborigines
which is applied to both the rock and the waterhole on top
of the rock. For the Aborigines, it is a sacred place full
of meaning in their concept of creation.
For scientists, it is the worlds largest monolith sticking
up out of the desert seemingly in the middle of nowhere. For
me, it was the culmination of a travel dream. This beautiful
rock changes color, depending on the light, and is probably
the most photographed site in Australia. I was fortunate enough
to see it both at sunset and sunrise. We stood in the viewing
area mesmerized by its changing beauty as the sun slowly set.
I saw a glorious colorwheel including grays, browns, oranges,
reds and yellows so beautiful that it speeded up my
heartbeat and made me realize how fortunate I was to be actually
standing there soaking up the beauty. I was so into the scene
that I almost forgot to take a picture every 5 minutes as
our guide suggested!
The next morning I had chosen to take an early morning camel
ride to see the sun come up over the rock. Once again that
meant a very early rising! There were 13 people who elected
to enjoy this most excellent adventure. We arrived in the
dark to see the camels lying on the ground, tethered together,
saddled and ready for the excursion. We were required to wear
helmets; we also took a sheepskin for a little extra padding
for our "bums." These are dromedaries or one-humped
The saddles they wore were for two people so we all had to
share a camel. I rode in front (the lighter person) and my
brother Chuck rode in back on Jackson, a very SPECIAL camel
because he was one of only a few content to be at the very
back of the line. A young girl named Lucy, who was a true
camel wrangler and enthusiast, rode lead. These saddles had
stirrups and also a standing rectangular bar to hold onto
when the camel got up or knelt down.
When Chuck and I were seated, Lucy gave Jackson a command
and two lurches had him on his feet. When a camel gets up,
he starts with his back legs so you are looking straight down
and leaning back. The second lurch comes as he brings his
front end up, then we were ready for the trail. As we rode,
Lucy talked about working with camels and told us many interesting
things about them. Australian camels are captured in the wild.
Australia actually exports camels to the Arabic world because
they are virtually disease free.
The morning air seemed so fresh and cool with no indication
of the hot day to follow. We could see magnificent Uluru as
the sun was rising and it was an awe-inspiring sight right
in front of us, not in a book! Again we were treated to a
spectrum of color changes that dazzled our eyes the
blue of the sky, the bold orange of the sun and the beautiful
Uluru changing from brown to pink to rusty red. Reveling in
the view, we plodded along for a little over hour learning
about camels and enjoying the special silence of the desert;
all too soon it was time to go back to the stable. Jackson
kneeled obligingly and we slid off. Another girl working there
came and unsaddled the camels, so we got to see what they
looked like without burdens. Many were in the midst of shedding
their hair for the hot summer ahead.
We were offered "breakfast" of beer bread (delicious)
with butter, jam or vegemite and instant tea or coffee, which
was served in the little gift shop. It was a wonderful way
to end our camel safari experience.
We have many countries yet to see in my quest to travel the
dream born so long ago in an elementary school geography class.
My digital camera worked very hard capturing over 1,100 shots
I considered memorable enough to save. However, no matter
where I go from here, these two experiences will always be
very high on my list of memorable moments.