You’re going to think we’re mad, unlucky or possible just cursed. Usually, I’m nothing of the sort, but this road trip has flipped everything upside down. Yes, it’s that bad.
Having spent a few nights in Alice Springs, we were ready to explore the Red Centre. After picking up Jeremy from the airport, we were en route to Uluru!!
Camels or Field of Lights
The night before leaving for Yulara (the town where you’ll find Uluru), we sat down as a team to plan our activities. Only Alex, Ramsay and Ben were interested in the camel tour and hoped to do it Monday night, but the website was down. There was availability for the Field of Lights sunset tour all week, but in case the camels were only available Sunday night, we held off booking until the morning.
Thankfully, in the morning Alex was able to book the camel tours, but the Field Of Lights sunset tour was now unavailable until Wednesday. Devastated, as this was the big thing Matt and I wanted to do at Uluru, we called the company and found out 8 spots were available for the following morning’s sunrise tour. After a quick chat, we booked. Pick up would be at 04:20, outside the Ayers Rock Campground entrance. An early start, but we were all grateful for the chance to go at all. Everyone had their activities booked in, good luck at last?
That’s Not Uluru…?
Packing and rearranging of the cars took a bit longer than expected in the morning, and we left around 1pm. After about 3 hours of driving through desert, we could see Uluru and quickly pulled over to take some photos.
Except, it wasn’t Uluru… We soon realised the red rock we’d been taking photos of for 20 minutes was actually Mount Connor. Equally as large and impressive, but definitely not Uluru. It would be a few more hours until we arrived in the Red Centre.
The Approaching Storm
After arriving in the small town of Yulara, we drove to the Ayers Rock Campground to set up for the night. We were advised which unpowered campsites we had access to and found a spot with only one other tent. We were close to communal kitchens and toilets, but far enough away that the light or sound from there wouldn’t bother us.
It was dark by the time we’d eaten and pitched our tents, but we stayed up to have some drinks together. Matt was the first to notice lightning in the distance at around 21:30, and it looked amazing. We all crowded under the car’s awning to take some photos as the light approached. For almost an hour, we couldn’t hear the thunder, but then there was a loud bang, and the storm was practically above us.
It started to sprinkle, and then suddenly it was pouring. No one was prepared for it. The awning flew up and everyone was scrambling to stay dry, throw their cameras in the car and grab the awning all at the same time.
Did You See That Tent?!
Not only was the thunder deafening and the rain pouring, but the wind was blowing everyone around. As we were struggling to put things into the cars, a tent hit Jeremy in the face. We couldn’t help but stop and laugh until we noticed the other tent in our campsite just blew across the road.
At this point, Matt and I are panicking, as we realize we didn’t peg our tent down. Thankfully everything was zipped, and it wasn’t moving in the wind. Our sleeping bag, pillows and swag mattress were enough to weigh it down.
Unsure if the tent was the best place for shelter while the lightning was still occurring, we ran to the closest covered shelter we could find, the communal kitchen. We waited close to an hour to see if the storm would let up, but it appeared to be getting worse. Matt and I decided to make a run to the car to grab our raincoats and then go to the tent. The car was in a puddle about a foot deep, but thankfully the windows were closed, and it was dry.
Sleeping In The Car
Apparently, our swags weren’t weathered enough from the sprinkler incident which occurred on Day 1. When we ran over to the tent, we discovered it was soaked, and the mattress was lying in a puddle of rainwater. Our sleeping bag was unusable, but the pillows weren’t too wet.
Despite their tent being as wet as ours, Jacob and Aaron decided to sleep in the swag, which meant we had room in the car. The car was, of course, packed with our bags, food and camping equipment, so we had to make room for somewhere to sleep.
Matt stretched out in the back seat and I curled up on the front seat. It wasn’t comfortable, but we were finally dry. Now 23:45, we were grouchy, damp and cold. Unsure if the tour would be on, we had to try and sleep. The alarm was set for 04:00. Ugh. Not the early night we had hoped for.
Field of Lights
At 03:45, Alex (who had slept in her car, Velvet Thunder, along with Ramsay and Jeremy) came by our car to ask what we should do about the tour. Jacob, Aaron and John were still sleeping in their tents, so we assumed they didn’t want to go. In the meantime, Alex and I both tried to call the tour company to find out if the tour was on, but how could it be in this weather? Although the lightning had stopped, it was still pouring.
After much debate, we decided to leave it.
But what if the tour was on?
I don’t want to ruin this one for you, because it’s another great story…
In the morning, when the rain had finally stopped, the campsite was a tip. In the night, the surfboards had flown off the roof and were found floating in a puddle next to the car. Our tents and weather resistant tent bags were soaking wet and full of water. Our chairs were scattered all over the property. Cutlery, plates and cups had blown away. Alex’s tent (the red and white tent on the right) was ruined.
Honestly, all we could do was laugh at our luck. After telling the crew in Velvet Thunder about the misadventures on our first day, they were now part of this story.
Stay tuned for Field of Lights and more road trip updates!