Before we left for the rock, we spent about half an hour looking for some of those fly-nets that you put over your hats, but everyone in the entire resort (i.e. pretty much the entire town) had sold out of them, and they had apparently ben asking ridiculous prices for them before they ran out. We decided we'd just have to live with the flies, and so we headed off to the rock.
Entry to the national park containing Ayer's Rock is about $20 per person, and you can't get anything other than a three-day pass. I don't quite understand why that would be the norm - but as "Screw the Tourists" appears to be the Northern Territory's state industry, I guess I shouldn't really be all that surprised.
As it turns out, the flies have discovered the fact that there are usually lots of very sweaty people congregating at the bottom of the rock, and so they were waiting for us in force when we arrived.
We started the climb, but Syndia bailed before she even reached the chain. I decided that I still wanted to climb, so after giving Syndia the car keys I headed on upwards with some boy whose family had also decided that they didn't want to make the climb.
The climb itself was reasonably demanding, with the chain only going about half the distance of the climb. It runs for most of the vertical distance, but there's about the same actual walking distance again that the chain doesn't cover, and you have to do that unassisted. There are track markers painted onto the rock though, presumably so that people don't get lost whilst trying to find the highest point of the rock
At the very summit there's a geological survey marker, which you can see in the photos I took while I was up there. One very cool thing is that there's full GSM + GPRS coverage on top of the rock itself. Cool
After I arrived back on the ground, we headed off towards the Olgas and then towards Alice Springs. The Olgas were pretty impressive, but they looked better from a distance, especially after having seen Ayer's Rock on the same day.
On the way to Alice after leaving Uluru, I saw the one thing I've been waiting for all my life: an "unrestricted" speed limit sign. Just a black circle with a diagonal line through it, but it was one of the coolest things I've seen. Sadly, since the light was starting to go, I didn't get to really wind the Commodore out all that much that night - but we were looking forward to trying it out the next day
We stayed at some backpacker's place in Alice, where we met a couple of poms who were planning on visiting the rock the next day. The didn't believe us that the flies could be that bad, so I guess they're regretting it now
Notes from Syndia:
was really shocked at how high the top was, and how exposed the walk was
tried to climb, but couldn't get past Chicken Rock
met a number of others who were also too afraid of heights to cover the distance between chicken rock and the chain
saw heaps of people go past, including a woman in high heels