From above: Up-close and personal with the transport on the Camel Express.
CATCHING THE CAMEL TRAIN
They call it the Camel Express, but our mount, lazy little Trevor, is in no hurry. He's seen the stunning backdrop of Uluru and Kata Tjuta before and is unimpressed. Luckily he has magnificent Murphy bringing up the rear to help him long. Murphy has walked all the way from WA to Uluru so not even batting his very long camel eyelashes will save Trevor from a bit of hard work. Back at the farm, kids learn about the camel history of the outback and feed baby camel Kelly mouthfuls of straw. Seeing their own county's red heart should be on every Australian family's bucket list. For me the ancient, rounded rocks of Kata Tjuta, like giant bronze bee hives, are almost more impressive but Uluru gets most children's vote, particularly when seen astride a cud-chewing camel or from the back of a Harley Davidson.
BULLDOG ANTS AND BUSH TUCKER
Early one morning we head out with our guide Artie to learn how to fend for ourselves in the bush. Five minutes after we've left the van all of us (except Artie) are hopelessly disoriented, lost among the red dirt and acacia tree. It is clear we have much to learn. Under Artie's tutelage we discover how to avoid bull ants and find fat witchetty grubs, sweet honey ants, native bush toffee and what bush plums taste like. Kids will love the tasting session at the end of the walk and the fact that Artie teaches them how to throw a native spear.
Indigenous experiences are all around you at the new Voyages Ayers Rock Resort. There are carving demonstrations and weaving or art markets and best of all, in the circle of sand near the Town Square storytellers spin Aboriginal bush yarns daily. While kids will soon be persuaded to try out their own 'kangaroo' and 'emu' moves with the Wakagetti dancers who perform in the late afternoons.
At the end of our painting session Beryl and her grandmother have created artworks as rich and red as the desert. My creation is less impressive. I wander over to the open air Maruku art market and mistakenly leave my painting behind on the counter. Five hours later it is still sitting there. No takers for my creation apparently, but I guarantee my journey is something you will want to share.