So……. I’m off the plane, collecting my luggage and being delivered to my hotel/dorm. Now, Ayers Rock resort is about 15 odd miles from the Rock itself and is a collection of about 5 hotels, a camp site and small shopping centre. It’s got its own school, hospital and police station. It’s basically like a small town, spread over a large area, built by a travel agent!!!!! So, as you may well guess, there’re plenty of places to work there.
Now, when I got to Sydney, there were a couple of Irish guys at the hostel who’d just got a job a Ayers Rock and I wondered, on the airport connection bus, if I’d bump into them. Seeing the layout and size of the resort, the odds looked pretty slim…. or so I thought!!!!
After I checked in, I walked towards my dorm, and who was directly in my path…. Chris, one of the Irish guys…. I’d met him immediately!!!! After a few “Good to see ya bro” exchanges, I noticed how down he was. I was like…. “Bud, what’s up?”…. he goes “Ahh…. dont ask….. I’ve already been almost sacked today”….. “What for?”…… I asked. “FOR NOT SMILING ENOUGH!!!!! How can you smile when its 40 degrees here and they wont let you use the pool cos you’re staff. It’s shit….I’ve had enough, there’s nothing to do here”.
I cracked up!!!! …. “Mate, you gotta get outta here” I said…… “Tell me about it” Chris replied. Without even realizing it, the poor bleeder was doing a fantastic impersonation of Marvin – the robot from Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy!!!! 🙂
And it was true!!!! I’d already noticed at check-in how all the staff seemed to be putting on proper Californian fake smiles. Gor blimey….. it was like something out of the stepford wives…. Bloody freaky!!!
So I dumps me stuff and heads off with the intention of sorting out a way of getting to Ayers Rock for sunrise the next morning……..on the Spring Equinox for the Southern Hemisphere. I went to the tour office to check out the possibilities of getting an early bus there, and my God…… the bird on the desk was freaking me out. She was answering all my questions with that exaggerated fake smile, and I could see in her eyes what she was thinking…..
“Fucking tourist…. I don’t want to answer your questions anymore…. I’ve had enough…. day in day out answering the same bloody questions (sometimes twice to the same bloody person!!!!)…. I’m better than this…. I’ve got a life you know…. at least I had one before I came here….. it’s hell…. if only you knew the torment I’m going through!”
……. “Yes Sir…. and the sunrise tour is $50”………. What the fuck!!!!! $50 dollars for basically a lift to the Rock!!!!! No matter how you dress it up with a fancy name, it’s a mini-bus service!!!! What a liberty!!! I thought there’d be a proper bus service, but by the looks of it, the resort has got a protected monopoly on all public service transport there and prices start at $50!!!!!!!
I wasn’t having that! “Where can I hire a bike?” I demanded….. “I don’t know Sir”….. fake smile, fake answer….. “Yes you do…. you’re just not telling me” I retorted……. with a fake smile:-). With that I headed for the road in pursuit of a bicycle….and guess what happened……
Just as I left the hotel grounds and hit the road, I saw this guy on a bike riding towards me. I thought “Diamond…. he’ll be able to let me know where to get a bike”. So I flagged him down. I said “Excuse me bud, where can I hire a bike from?”. He said “Don’t know”. I was a bit confused and asked “Well, where did you get this from then?” and he goes “Its mine…I live here”. I was like “Oh…well do you know where I can get one from then?”
He then suddenly got off his bike and said “Here you go…… take mine”. I couldn’t adam and eve it “What…. are you having some kind of bubble bath?” I said……. he said “What?”….. “Are you joking?” I continued….. “No, take it, it’s yours” and he handed me his bike!!!! “Bro…you cant be serious” I said (without any McEnroe connotations) “How much do you want for it?” …….. “Nothing” he said…… “Well at least let me get you some beers” I offered….. “Yeah, that’s cool” and then he started to walk off!!!! I shouted after him “Well when? where?”…… “Err…. tomorrow night, you’re in this hotel right”….. “Yeah” I responded and continued “I’ll see you tomorrow night then …… Oh bud….. What’s your name?” I hollered after him. “Liam!” he hollered back. “Thanks… I’m Lee…. nice to meet you!!!!” With that I cycled off to the shopping centre to have a butchers hook around!!!
I swear…. That’s exactly what happened! 🙂
Now, another strange phenomenon which keeps presenting itself to me since I’ve arrived in Australia, is that random people keep making random comments and asking if I live here. As I was paying for my groceries at the check out, the guy asked me that out of the blue again!!! I must be radiating something! 🙂
Anyway I gets back, has a cheeky swim in the pool (see Chris and rubbed in the fact !…. He smiled!!!!) and then went to cook meself a bit of grub. While I was eating I thought it’ll be a good idea to go and find out how to get out of here and get to Alice Springs the day after tomorrow. So I finished me munch and headed back to the centre and found the tourist office. There was an old German guy serving at the desk. He was very helpful and looked thoroughly miserable….. not a fake smile in sight…. it was so refreshing!!!!!
After I had got some info, I started looking at some postcards and one of the girls, who also worked there, came up to me and whispered -in a nudge nudge wink wink style – “Have you got a pass for the National Park?” (to get into the National Park you have to buy a three day pass costing $25). I said “I’m gonna get one on the gate tomorrow morning”. She goes “Here take this…but don’t tell anyone”. She gave me a pass with a day still to run on it – 21st September 2005 – that some tourist had handed in to her. “Do you want anything for it?” I enquired. “Oh no….. I’d get the sack if anyone found out I’d even given it to you…keep it to yourself”…… “Thanks so much….have a wonderful day” I responded. I would’ve stayed to chat her up…. but she wasn’t my type… shame. 😉
So, within a few hours of arriving at Ayers Rock I’d met Chris (and Stuart), sorted out my transport and gained free entry to the park…..Fan-fucking-tastic!!!!! And I’d also seen the prices for bike hire….. $40 per 24hr period!!!!! Liberty takers everywhere!!!! Its really not cricket!!!! Not the way the Australians play it anyway!!!! (ahhhh…. I’m so glad I have the freedom to make that kind of dig after the recent Ashes series…. it doesn’t happen that often…… once every couple of decades infact!!!!)
After a shower and dinner, I went for a cheeky beer…… and true to form…. it turned into a cheeky 4!!! I had a good night, but was in bed by 12pm. So much for an early night….I had to be up by 4am!!!!!
So, sleeps in a bit and am on the road by 5am, actually looking forward to my 15 mile ride. I had 1 hour and 37 minutes to get to the top of Ayers Rock and witness the Equinox Sunrise. It was really chilly at that time in the morning, but the sky and air was crystal clear and there was a lot of light from the moon. As I cycled along, completely undisturbed, I could see the silhouette of the Rock in the distance….it was beautiful. Every now and then a car would fly by and I’d turn me torch on to let it know I was there, and as I motored along, I really had the sensation that Ayers Rock wasn’t getting any closer!!!! It felt like I was in a gym, on an exercise bike with a picture of it in front of me!!!!! And then, to make matters worse, about 45 minutes into the ride (because of the way the road goes) I was cycling past it!!!!! How disheartening was that!!!! The road bears right, goes past it and then chucks a left!!! I really wasn’t happy, but the views I had of the rock as the night turned into dawn were spectacular and awe inspiring…. it was truly magnificent.
Its really pathetic as well though…. the day before, the fake smile bird was warning me not to cycle there before sunrise because of the dangers from the wildlife “Its our policy to advise people to refrain from entering the park before 6am due to the dangers from wildlife” were her actual words. What the fuck?…… What gonna happen?… Are a gang of Kangeroos gonna be on the street corner waiting to mug me?!!!!!
FUCK OFF WITH YOUR CREATION OF FEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Do you think Captain Scott was worrying about all the gansta penguins waiting for him in Antartica!!!!!! No!!!!! So if I wanna take a risk…. It’s my one to take…. if indeed there even is a risk. No doubt the wildlife would be more scared of me on me Raleigh steed wielding me Wilkinson Torch!!!!!! 🙂
Now, another thing you should know, is that since I arrived in Oz and told people I wanted to go to Ayers Rock, many Australians have said that the Aborigines wont let you go up there. Others have said that they prefer you not to go up there because it’s a sacred site to them. That made me feel INCREDULOUS!!!!! What right has any group of people to deny another group of people the right of access to any part of this planet, especially if it’s a land formation and doubly especially if it’s a spiritual place! No right whatsoever!!!! What matters is the intent of the individual and their reasons for wishing to be there. Anything else is tantamount to racism, and if a people deny access on those grounds then their not enlightened and there is no reason to respect their false sentiments to spirituality. They may as well be Catholic!!!!! Spiritual sites around this planet are there for the greater good of all humanity and not the exclusive acquisition of a few members who claim to have been there first. Access is important for anyone on a spiritual journey and even those who may not be aware of the fact.
The closest comparison I can make is that of Glastonbury Tor. That is an extremely spiritual place and is sacred to me and millions of others. I’m an Englishman and it happens to be in England, but I wouldn’t dream to think that that would give me the right to make constraints on who could or could not go up there. Everyone has a right to climb Glastonbury Tor, no matter who they are, what their beliefs are, what their race is or where they’re from – whether for touristical or spiritual reasons. The only thing that I have a right to be concerned about is if those individuals respect the Tor while they’re up there and do not consciously damage it in any way.
I’ve been up Glastonbury Tor in the region of 50–60 times and every time I’ve had a different experience in terms of atmosphere, weather, cloud formations and the people I’ve met. It’s a very special place. One time I when I went up there, there was a bunch of about 15 Peruvians in full national dress!!!!! How the fuck did they get there!!!! Thank God they weren’t playing the pan-pipes!!!!!!! 🙂
So, with all that in mind, as I’m approaching the Rock, I’m thinking “If an Aborigine tries to stop me going up there to experience the sunrise on the Southern Hemisphere Spring Equinox, then I’m gonna ask him to join me….. how fantastic would that be!!!! And if he happens to reject my wonderful invitation and attempts to jab me with a spear:-)…… then I’m gonna stand me ground and explain the situation in no uncertain terms!!!!!!!”
Anyway, I arrived at the base of the Rock, by the start of the pathway up there, at about 6am. 24 carrot Pukka…. I’m bang on schedule!!!! But, it was really windy, and then I saw the gate was closed and a sign above it read – “Due to weather conditions the path is closed at present”…… OH FUCK!!!!!! SHIT!!!!! BLOODY HELL!!!!!BUSTED!!!!
I was momentarily gutted!!!! It went through my mind to jump over the fence and walk up there anyway……but I take calculated risks, I never take stupid ones, and looking up there I knew that if its windy down here it could be ten times as severe up there and I didn’t know the path or the terrain, and anyhow….. there didn’t look like there would be much to hold onto if you really got caught by a gust.
So, I didn’t know what to do, time was getting on and I didn’t figure that I could get to the best spot to witness the sunrise from the ground (it was the other side of the Rock…. about 4 miles away). I thought “Mate…. What’s going on?”. Then I looked around and saw, about 150 yards away, a ranger emptying some bins.
And just like Baldrick…… I had a cunning plan….
Love and Light,