If you have been reading my column, you know that I love Australia. While most of the fun stuff to do in Australia is less than 12 miles from the ocean, there are some hidden gems that you can look for while you are traveling. When you are traveling with a family or group of friends, not everyone may have the same level of appreciation of water in their life, you do not need that kind of negativity. Just kidding. Sometimes good friends mean that you have to leave the water during your trips to see some of the other sights. One of the sights that everyone wants to see while they are in Australia is Ayrer’s Rock (also known as Uluru).
Ayer’s Rock is the big monolith in the center of Australia which is in most movies about Australia. The way Hollywood depicts it, you would think that Uluru is right down the street from Sydney. This is not the case, it is a four-hour flight from most points in Australia to Alice Springs, then you have a six-hour bus ride to get to the rock to see it. While it is worth the trip, those of you who are on a water trip may start to want to see some water. The truth is there are some oases in the desert, and if you find the right guides, you can get a quick swim in some wild water while you are exploring one of the biggest deserts on earth.
One of the best swimming holes that you can go to in the Red Center is on the Western McDonnell Tours with AAT Tours. This chilly billabong gives you a great area to get a quick swim while on either a half or full-day tour. It also allows your land-based friends to explore the cliffs and the desert around the area if they do not want to take a dip in the water. One of the nice things about this area is that there are no crocs, so as long as the guide says you can swim in an area you are safe. If you plan on swimming in this area, wear your suit under your clothes, there are not any private areas to change (and the bus bathrooms can be challenging to change in). For the guys reading this, RipCurl has a great line of quick-dry board shorts that dry in about 20 minutes, so this is a great option if you do not want to change (and as a bonus, they look like khaki shorts so you can wear them to eat too).
While you are in the desert, make sure to request the BBQ under the stars at Uluru. AAT Kings lays out an amazing spread that, while not as a good as American BBQ has an Australian charm of its own. After the dinner (which has free drinks), you will be able to see the starlight show, where they let you look at the constellations of the southern hemisphere. Another highlight of any trip to see the big rock is watching it as sunrise and sunset. In both cases, the rock goes through magnificent changes in color. While in the Red Center, you may also want to swing by King’s Canyon, which is a large natural canyon about 5 hours from Uluru. It is nice to see, and the breakfast buffet at the hotel is amazing.
As with any trip, going to an area you do not know can be challenging. This is why I recommend a travel agent to set up your trip. An agent can make sure that you set up your time efficiently so you are not just riding a bus or plane for your whole trip. Getting there with enough time to enjoy the sights is one of the main reasons that you use an agent. Once you have a good guide, a good provider is a necessity. As I have mentioned, I used AAT Kings for the tours I book. They seem to do good with professionals and students alike and the drivers are excellent. So if you have friends who just have to see the big rock in the center, you can still find some water to swim and make some experiences that are just as amazing as a dive trip.
About the Author
Dr. Smithmyer is the Vice President of International Affairs for Brāv Online Conflict Management, an international consortium of conflict resolution professionals. Dr. Smithmyer is also a columnist for NRN doing mostly political and international business columns. When Dr. Smithmyer is not working with people to make the world a better place, he enjoys snorkeling the waters of the world.
Dr. Smithmyer has traveled extensively in the United States, Australia, Vietnam, and the Bahamas. He has also presented in the U.K., India, Brazil, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Smithmyer is one of the most lettered men in the world with nine degrees. As an adjunct professor in his spare time, Dr. Smithmyer uses his business experience and travels to help bring the world to his students and even brings the students to the world through experiential learning trips.
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