The heat almost bowls me over. I don’t know if it is because it is actually really hot or it’s simply a stark contrast from the air-conditioned aeroplane I’ve just emerged from. At least my arms are no longer covered in goosebumps.
As we walk from the aircraft, across the tarmac to the airport, a young girl says to a German backpacker “I hope you are okay. I live here, I should be used to this heat, but right now I am boiling!” She’s not the only European struggling. In front of me at the shuttle bus stop a delicate, pale English lady whispers to her husband, “I’ve never felt such heat. It warms you from the inside out and touches your soul.” I wasn’t expecting such eloquence in the middle of the Aussie outback. A girl in my dorm has just come from Cairns. It was hot there too but a different kind of heat. Humid. This is different. She can’t decide which is worse.
This is a dry heat. There is no wind. Everything stands still. All the sounds have been muted, like the heat has rendered everyone and everything too exhausted to make a sound. Consequently, it is so peaceful and calm standing outside. Even inside people don’t speak in order to conserve their energy. The loudest noise is the constant hum of the air-conditioning but you quickly become accustomed to it and it fades into the background.
The air feels heavy. It pushes on you like a weighted blanket. It wraps you up in its embrace. It fills all the holes and crevices outside and the gaps between your fingers and toes and strands of hair. It makes it hard to breathe; like it is when you are in a cubby house made of sheets.
Although it is uncomfortable at first, I come to like this heat. I like how it drains the energy from me so I am forced to slow down and not rush from place to place. I like just sitting still and observing my surroundings in my drowsy, peaceful stupor.
Before I went, a colleague described Uluru as ‘spiritual and magical.’ She couldn’t explain why or what exactly she meant by that.
“You’ll when what I mean when you get there. You will feel … something.”
People have asked me what it was like there and I am similarly lost for words. I haven’t really talked about it and I keep telling people I’ll blog about it instead because every attempt at describing it has fallen short. The spoken word often betrays me and I have always said ‘I write better than I talk,’ but for the first time in my life I can’t even convey my thoughts and feelings in writing.
It has been 6 weeks since I returned home and I am yet to write a single word. Well, that’s a slight lie. I have written a few bits and pieces but every attempt has ended up crumpled up and thrown in the bin.
I simply can’t describe the significance of the place. Or even worse, I make it sound corny. But I’m going to try. I want to share my experience so I can encourage others to go but mainly so I can relive my magical days there and have a record I can always re-read.
You can find prices of activities and reviews of the accommodation anywhere on the internet. I want to write about how I felt a sensory overload. I had only travelled three hours on a plane but I didn’t feel like I was in Australia anymore, at least not the Australia I had grown up in. It felt like an alien planet in so many ways. The sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings were overwhelming and in my four days there they never once lost their appeal or stopped completely and utterly fascinating me.
Am I a bad Australian? I’ve travelled extensively around Europe but I’ve barely scratched the surface of my own country. I have no idea why as there are so many beautiful and unique places to explore. And it’s way cheaper than flying overseas considering Australia is so far away from anywhere!
So to make amends I asked for a plane ticket to Uluru for my birthday. Jetstar were having a sale and I got a return flight for just over $200. Bargain!
I fly out tomorrow morning bright and early and I’m staying 3 nights. I’m planning to explore Uluru and the Olgas, enjoy the sunshine, read by the pool, go for walks (maybe … it’s meant to be really hot which is probably why the tickets were so cheap. I’ll report back on whether going to the desert in summer is a good idea or not …) and take a day trip to King’s Canyon.
I can’t wait!