This weekend I flew to Yulara and saw Pauline my sister just 5 weeks before she ended her 1 year stay as a nurse at the Ayers Rock / Uluru resort town. It’s a great place for a weekend, but it doesn’t surprise me that average length of stay for a vistor is 1.4 days, and for a worker seems to be 1-2 years, as there’s not a lot to do besides go to see the big rock (Uluru), or the little rocks (The Olgas). If you’re a fan of plants like I am, you get to see a wonderful array of arid habitat mulga, caesia and saltbush, some lovely river red gums in the stony creekbeds and spiky wattles, upright desert oaks and long-leaved hakeas. It was winter, so days were blue skied and almost windless, and nights were Melbourne-cold. I’d wake up in her small concrete brick bunker of a hut and look outside and find myself delighted by the light and red earth all around. And of course the majesty of the rock, which was about 10k’s away across the plain. We got along ok, and she’s pretty much the same spartan type as mum and dad, but prone to talking inane crap to fill in conversation gaps like I can. I didn’t know that she found singers like Pink empowering for women, or that she has only burped 10 times ever, so can’t drink fizzy stuff, or that as a guilty pleasure she occasionally ate prawns. Life would be hard for a vegetarian out there. Everyone in town seemed to know her and she presents as a really hard working, money saving type, who can still enjoy a red wine or 3. It’s touching the amount of photos of friends she keeps on her walls reminding her good times, and the effort she puts into contacting them. It makes me feel a bit bad about my lack of care there. All my life I’d wanted to go to this place and climb the rock, but when I read the signs from the local aboriginals asking people not to do it, I was happy to walk around the base (it’s 11k around the outside, so I didn’t go too far) and looked into the caves and waterholes instead. Apparently from a 85% climber base in the 1970’s, it’s now down to only 40% who climb. I’d love to see the Australian/Overseas ratio of that 40%, as I’d bet that overseas people are more respectful of the plea.