Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Uluru to Broom

By Carolyn

There is a lot of nothing between the coasts of Australia, except for this Big Rock. It does not disappoint! The rock was originally sand, deposited as part of an extensive alluvial fan. These layers were horizontal when deposited, but were tilted to their near vertical position during a later episode of mountain building. Now what’s left is a prominent isolated residual knob that rises abruptly from larger flat eroded lowlands.

It is summer in the Southern Hemisphere and it is HOT in the desert. We stayed indoors and got an early dinner then took an evening tour to see Field of Light, an art installation by Bruce Monroe comprised of 50,000 glass bulbs with fiber optic lights powered by solar panels. These points of light change color every six seconds and cover over 12 acres. At first they looked like flowers blooming in drifts, but as the sky got darker, the points of light reminded me of Australian dot paintings. There was no moon tonight so by 9:30 the sky was as full of bright dots as the ground was covered in bulbs.
Field of Light by Bruce Monroe
Sunday morning was our next chance to beat the heat. We were rolling by 5:00am, and it is truly worth getting up early to see Uluru change from dark mauve to red to a vivid orange as the sun hits it. The trees on the plain change from green to gold as the sun rises higher into the sky. We used the time before 8:00 to walk the base of Uluru and look for birds.

...changing colors...

...as the sun rises.
Cool plants and animals abound on this continent with over 700 species of eucalyptus, 90 species of mistletoe (many associated with just one host tree), 200 species of marsupials, 75 species of honeyeaters (birds) evolved in partnership with nectar producing trees and shrubs.


just a few of the many species of eucalyptus 
Pied honeyeater (thanks, Becky, for all good animal pics)

One last day in Australia took us west to Broom on the Indian Ocean. The airport includes facilities for the western division of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which uses 17 Pilatus Pc-12 aircraft to serve remote indigenous communities, mining operations, and far flung “stations” (ranches) for medical emergencies. John M., a dedicated and able pilot, give us a great tour of the ambulance-outfitted planes, hangers and medical facilities. Last year, the western division retrieved over 8,500 patients, flew 4,700,000 miles across almost 1,000,000 square miles. Most funding is through corporate and private philanthropy, with some government support.
John showing Josh how the stretchers are loaded into the aircraft.

Pretty cool configuration 
N575PC got to spend the night indoors with a buddy!

The temperature in Broom was about the same as the Outback, but with 100% humidity it felt much hotter. Becky and I managed a short walk around the hotel before an early dinner. We’ll be rolling by 4:45 tomorrow morning, headed to Singapore.

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