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Outback over

December 6, 2012

Thousands of miles into the outback to see the magical change of colour of Ayers Rock was reduced to a farce as clouds moved in and obscured the sun before sunset. This is not what I saw in the brochure. Without a sunset Uluru is reduced to a rather uninteresting rock in a desert. I have seen more impressive hills in the South Downs.

Dinner under the stars was at best adequate. Poor canopies were, in part, a kind of bush tucker trial, with unappetising pieces of tough kangaroo and crocodile mounted on stale tasteless bases, being spread around the unfortunates who had signed up, followed by a mass catered meal in the desert. The star-gazing was good, but with the cloud hampering viewing, the guide just about got away with it. Had it remained cloudy, I suspect I would have been asking for a refund.

I am totally fed up with being ripped off wherever I go in Australia, and The Ayers Rock resort does this better than anywhere else. It is a master class in combining charging ridiculous prices whilst providing a terrible service. Internet access at $10 an hour (about £7 at today’s Currencies Direct exchange rates) was so poor one could not upload a photo, however there is a special treat today; the photo that should have appeared yesterday.

That Nice Lady Decorator gives the birds the birds

That Nice Lady Decorator gives the bird to the birds

So I was in a great mood when the alarm clock went off just before 4am. We were off to see the same bit of dull rock at sunrise. After hauling myself out of bed, there was a moment when it looked quite impressive but then the sun was obscured behind some clouds and it became a dull rock again. 5 hours was too long for the Sunrise Tour, made even longer by the long drawn out commentary from our driver who seemed to have overdosed on Valium. He would have made James May from Top Gear seem animated.
Leaving Ayers Rock we headed to the airport for the third flight in two days, this time to Sydney and the Shangri-La hotel in the Rocks area, where we will be staying  for the next few days before the long trip home. That Nice Lady Decorator is looking forward to this last leg as she has found Adelaide, stuck in the early 70’s and Kangaroo Island stuck in the 50’s not to her taste. She is hoping for something a little more up to date in Sydney, and with friends we met in Valbonne now living there, the expectation of the inside track locally is high. As a taster we have a pre arranged meeting with Larry Smith, a man who likes a drink, this evening. Larry is the man I was with when I lost a shoe at a hotel room on London. It was warm (mid summer, but still a shock) and the sash window on the crap hotel he had chosen would not stay open. I decided to jam my shoe in the window to keep it open and everything was fine, until the shoe dropped out onto an inaccessible inner courtyard in the middle of the night. With no other shoes to wear, I had to get it back. After much deliberation it was decided that by using two knotted sheets and a chair, I could get down low enough to retrieve my footwear. Success was only achieved by leaving the chair two floors below on that terrace. We checked out early before a the hotel management noticed, and charged us big time, Australian style . Should be a quiet evening.
Chris France

@Valbonne_News

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