Evan and I were so excited to finally go on holiday-just the two of us! We were lucky that 3 statutory holidays fell over my school holidays, so we took a 10 day vacation, and Evan only had to ask for 3 days off!

We started off by flying to the Red Centre-a life-long dream of mine! We landed in Yulara, a small town outside Uluru National Park. We began Saturday morning by watching the sunrise behind Ayers Rock. WOW!

Uluru at sunrise
Kata Tjuta at sunrise
Uluru (Ayers Rock) at sunrise


A new whiteboard initiative by Ev to document our adventures…
Kata Tjuta in the background at sunrise

Next Stop: Kata Tjuta (pronounced Cah-ta Jew-ta) and the Valley of the Winds. This 7.4km walk travels through red dusty gorges and across rivers. After a couple kilometers, we came to the gorgeous Karingana Lookout. I imagined we felt like the Israelites they saw the Promise Land after being in the desert for so long.

Near Karu Lookout on the Valley of the Winds Walk-check out the moon above us!
Near Karu Lookout on the Valley of the Winds Walk
Karingana Lookout
Is this what the Promise Land looked like from afar?
Karingana Lookout

We couldn’t get enough of the heat! Thank goodness for deserts! After finishing our walk at Kata Tjuta, we proceeded towards Ayers Rock. On this dry HOT day, we almost walked ANOTHER 10km around the base of Uluru. However, we cleverly discovered a bike rental place just in the nick of time! ***Note to future travellers: We HIGHLY recommend the bikes!  We enjoyed a breeze on our bikes, and we were (sort of) able to escape the flies that incessantly buzzed around our heads!

Aboriginal Cave Paintings on Ayers Rock
Ayers Rock

We decided to climb Ayers Rock. It is quite confusing as to whether we should or not-you are told it is disrespectful to the aboriginal people to climb the sacred rock, but yet there are guidelines and tips on brochures for climbing as well as chains/painted lines to guide you towards the best route to the top. So, we met in the middle by climbing halfway up. The view from the (halfway) top was amazing. We could see Kata Tjuta in the distance, and the desert seemed endless as far as the eye could see. The horizon line was perfectly flat, and it truly made you feel isolated from the rest of the world.

Looking at Kata Tjuta from a distance
The only visible landmark from atop Ayers Rock

Before night fell, we enjoyed another wonderful desert sunset.

A little desert romance, perhaps?
Sunset behind Kata Tjuta

My FAVORITE desert activity was by far the camel rides at sunrise. Our camel, named Jack, was an award-winning racing camel in his younger days. He was a little feisty, but who wouldn’t be after 40 years of being a camel in the Australian outback?

Oh Jack! Here he is grunting like Chewbacca.
Curious Jack
Deciding how close he really wants to get to those teeth!
Uluru Camel Ride 151
Our buddy from behind was photogenic, and very friendly…
Uluru Camel Ride 126
A lot higher than we had thought we would be!
Uluru Camel Ride 62
Camel Train at dawn.

 Down Under Part 2

From the Red Centre, we flew to Cairns. Evan and I bravely (or crazily) decided to pursue our open water dive certification. And what better place to do it, we thought, than the Great Barrier Reef? So, we began a week-long dive course and live-a-board cruise. On Monday and Tuesday we spent all day in the classroom and ProDive swimming pools learning theory, technique, and equipment as well as practicing our newly learned skills. The fun began early Wednesday morning when we boarded a boat that would take us to the outer reef. After 4 dives in the ocean with our instructor, we were certified! Shout-out to Lisa and Perry who were wonderful dive instructors 🙂

Then, the fun began!

Morgan diving along a coral shelf…probably about 12m/40(ish) feet deep.
Underwater romance…this was more difficult than we had thought it would be.
Fan coral, one of my faves…
Plate coral. Beautiful!
Cruisin’ along…
Great Barrier Reef

The good thing about diving 9 times in 3 days is that you have a chance to see an ABUNDANCE of reef life. We saw 1-2m/6+ ft sized sea turtles, stingrays, clownfish, parrotfish, wrasse fish, nudibranch, starfish, eels, and more. Oh, and course sharks! We even decided to venture on a night dive. Yep, we jumped in the water with 3 reef sharks circling the back of the boat. Why do I do the things I do? What possesses me to jump into dark water with nothing but a flashlight and about 40 minutes of oxygen in my tank? I’m not quite sure…but like everytime I ask myself this question, I once again emerge from the experience with a cheeky grin and an air of accomplishment and adrenaline. Sometimes it’s just taking that first step…

We found Nemo!
Humphead parrotfish
Meeting Brian, a 6-foot 140-year old sea turtle.
Evan and Brian (he’s actually a good bit closer in real life than the photo reveals…)
Yes, we did see quite a few reef sharks. This one is a white tipped reef shark, but at only 3-4 feet, he is one of the smaller reef sharks we saw.

We finished our holiday enjoying the 30+ (Celsius) degree weather on the lagoon in Cairns, stuffing ourselves with the most delicious cajun food we experienced in this hemisphere, and some incredible ice cream. When we came home, the first thing Evan did was book a flight to Sydney in October. Looks like we aren’t finished with Australia yet!


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