Monday, July 15, 2013

Outback (July 7-13)

We left Sydney and headed for the Australian outback this week.  We spent a few days at Uluru and then Alice Springs.  It was a big change from Sydney, but fun to see a completely different part of Australia.

July 7:  After a delayed flight, we arrived in Uluru in the center of Australia.  Liam was so excited to go to the desert to "scoop red sand!"  Luckily, we found some spades and a bucket at the grocery store.

Brenna was less enthusiastic, perhaps due to a long day of traveling and a not very long nap.  She's also teething (still), which makes her very sad.

Uluru has one resort complex with 3 hotels of varying quality and a campground, all run by the same company.  There are also a handful of restaurants and a couple shops.  And a big red rock.  Not much else and not much choice on what to do, see, and eat.

July 8:  Liam woke up, sat straight up and said, "Now I can dig!" this morning.  So, after breakfast and a short dig, we got out to see Uluru.  We did the Mala walk, one of several trails.

The rock itself is very interesting, with lots of texture and pattern.

And along the walk, we saw lots of Aboriginal paintings in various caves.

Liam was surprisingly interested in the informational signs, caves, paintings and rock formations.  He said, "This is so cool" a few times.  There was one cave where I told him they used to make their camp fires.  He told Brian about it next, including "This is where they roast marshmellows."

Brenna did not get as much out of the hike, but she did enjoy the ride.

At the end of the trail was a Gorge, which is filled by waterfalls that bring water down from a large water hole on the top of Uluru.

Brenna was happier on the way back, since we let her get out of the stroller and stretch her legs.

Though she couldn't keep up with her running brother.

As we headed out of the park, Brenna was screaming.  So, we stopped and looked back.  And I managed to get this quick picture.  Maybe she was yelling at me not to miss this photo op.

July 9:  It was drizzling when we woke up (too wet to dig!), but Uluru in the rain is just as interesting as it is in the sunshine.  We headed to the rock to see the water flowing down the sides.

It was even colder than the day before (winter in the desert), but Liam found a stick and all was good in his world.

We drove around the base of Uluru and walked on a trail on the other side from the Mala trail we did the day before.

At the end of the trail was a large water hole.  And you could see the water flowing into it.

We stopped there for a snack and some reflection (ok, mostly for a snack).

Brenna got to walk some of the way back, which - again - made her happier.

The outback is fairly wet for a desert, as the rain and all the trees and grasses show.  A very interesting landscape and definitely something we were glad to have seen.

July 10:  We packed up and headed for the Ayers Rock airport after breakfast.  Once we got there (running late, so running in to the airport), we found out our plane was delayed due to the thick clouds.  No ETA on departure.  So, we did a lot of toddler entertaining to keep the troops happy.  Liam loves to swing "hupside down".

Brenna worked on making friends.

And getting my attention.

We finally made it to Alice Springs (a 45 minute flight), checked into our hotel, and got a quick - very late - nap.  Then we headed out to find dinner and ended up at a very Outback saloon.  They had seats by the front windows that were saddles.  Liam could not get enough.

Brenna worked on getting her hands on my camera (a favorite sport of hers).

After dinner, we got a few groceries and some ice cream.  Ice cream is the perfect way to end a long day.

July 11:  Today was all about one of Liam's favorites:  Trucks!  We went to the National Road Transport Hall of Fame!

It was toddler dude heaven.

They even had a pink cement mixer!  Liam's favorite color and truck all in one.

You could see the inside of a cab and old fire trucks.  And so much more. 

Brenna put up with it.  A snack cup of pretzels usually is all she needs.

Outside the Hall of Fame, they had a little playground.

They also had some birds, which made Brenna very happy.  She loves to point at them and say "Bir!"

We let Liam pick out a new little truck as we left the Hall of Fame and he happily went to work doing more digging at the playground. 

Brenna was happy to get in some digging too.  Monkey see, monkey do.

July 12:  This morning, we headed to the Alice Springs Desert Park.  They have a great bird show so we immediately headed off to find that.

It was interesting to learn about desert birds.  Brenna was happy to have them flying around and above her.  And Liam spent the entire time digging rocks around the edge of the stage.

Then we walked around the park some more and went to the Nocturnal House, which had a lot of great displays of nocturnal animals.  Liam loved the rats, wallabies and other hopping creatures and lizards and snacks.  Brenna liked the birds of course!

The cafe at the Desert Park had some great toys, including this wooden dollhouse.  Liam made sure the doll used the potty (and made sure I wiped her and put her skirt back on when she was done).  Brenna liked the bead toy.

We left the park, got some lunch and then got the kids down for their naps.  Brenna crashed hard, but wasn't quite ready to wake up when she woke up. 

July 13:  Our last day in Alice Springs also happened to be the annual Lasseters Cup Camel Race.  We had flight at 5:25 pm, so we had a lot of time to kill and - luckily - plenty to see. 

Liam really wanted to go on this big bouncy slide.  It was really steep and high, but he loved it.  Brian took 2 rides down with him and I did another three before we pulled him away (screaming) to get some lunch.

Luckily, a bit of food and some crazy dancing lifted everyone's spirits.

We left the camel races and decided to try a quick car nap before heading to the airport.  Both kids slept for a little bit, just enough to make it through the day.

And, luckily, our third flight was not delayed.  We made it to Cairns at 8 pm, rented our car, got to our hotel, and finally got the kids to sleep at 10 pm.  Another long day in another full week.