How cool is this? I'm sitting in Yulara, bugger-all kilometres from Ayer's Rock (or Uluru - call it what you will. I choose to call it Ayer's Rock). Anyway, I'm sitting here in Yulara with a notebook connected to a digital camera, with a Telstra GPRS connection to the Internet. Cute

We had some interesting experiences today - some good, some not-so-good. Woke up at about 8am and opened the car doors. Big mistake - millions of flies had obviously been congregating on the car's bonnet (more on that later), waiting for the opportunity to attack us. Beating a hasty retreat into the car, we quickly worked out what we needed from the boot, then I ducked out to fetch it. A quick change of clothes later, we were back on the highway, leaving all but the most adventurous flies behind.

Speaking of flies congregating on the bonnet of the car: have a look at the photos. There are literally thousands of squashed bugs on the front of the car. Every time we've stopped at a servo for fuel, one of us has had to spend ages cleaning the buggers off the windscreen. We've even picked up three or four grasshoppers, which all seemed to make a strangly disconcerting thunk as they hit. Ugh... green stuff... The flies seem to reckon it's an absolute smorgasbord though, and we can't get rid of the buggers now. Car washing in the middle of the outback? Not bloody likely...

Heading north from Coober Pedy, we stopped in at a little place called Cadney Homestead for a bit of a feed. Good food, decent place, and heaps of ceiling fans to ward off the flies. There's even a camping ground and a pool - something to remember for any subsequent trips to the red centre

Next stop: Shell service station at Erldunda. Not good - they're out of unleaded, and don't know when they're going to have any more. Apparently their tanker was supposed to arrive from Darwin last night, but something obviously prevented it. The bloke there was pretty terse - fair enough, he was sick of people asking about fuel, but you'd think that being a servo in the middle of nowhere, they'd take it reasonably seriously. If he didn't want to continually answer the same questions, he always could have put up a sign...

Anyway, the next fuel was supposedly at Yulara, which was about 280km away. I was a bit concerned at this stage as we'd been moving at a fair clip over the previous 400km or so and had burnt a reasonable amount of fuel. We'd have had no problems making it to Alice Springs, which was my fallback point, but I really didn't want to have to cancel the trip to Ayer's Rock after we'd come so close to it. With that in mind, I set the cruise control for best fuel efficiency (about 110km/h) and off we went along Lasseter's Highway.

About 100km along the way, we spotted a Mobil servo at Curtin Springs and, with not a little relief, pulled in to refuel. Whoops. Won't make that mistake again. There's a bloody great Mobil sign out the front, but the scumbag flatly refused to take my Mobil card. No apologies either - just "We don't take them any more - we get our fuel from now." Wonderful. Not a big problem, since they did take VISA, but I was pretty pissed off. After I pushed the issue a bit, he told me he didn't really give as, which is a bit rich from some prick who's already screwing me over. Oh well... I wonder what Mobil are going to do to him when they receive a pissed-off letter from a Telstra Fleet rep It won't be me writing to them...

To make myself feel a bit better, I stirred up asload of dust upon leaving, by the simple expedient of flat-shifting between first, second and third gears and spinning the wheels in the dust all the way. You could see the cloud for a kilometre or so down the road. I hope that pissed him off a bit, but either way it made me feel a bit better With a mostly-full tank of fuel now - worth about 800km if I drive conservatively - we don't need to stop again anywhere between here and Alice Springs, which is a bit of a relief.

Arriving at Yulara, we discovered that there's a five-star resort out here. Whowouldathunkit? Well, it's actually an "all-stars" resort - it has everything from 5-star luxury accommodation down to mostly-flat dirt on which you can erect a tent. Sweet, says us - a shower, soft bed and a decent bit of a feed wouldn't go astray. There's even a pool There are a bunch of lookouts in the area as well, so they'll make for good viewing tomorrow before we actually make the pilgrimage to the rock itself.