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PEOPLE are strange. Pretty sure you know that, but sometimes it takes a few days away to underline just how strange.
In a forthcoming column I’ll review some of the great stuff to do in the centre of our country; and it’s amazing just how much is on offer at Uluru these days – a far cry from the basic campgrounds of the ’70s and ’80s.
Now, it’s possible to drive there and judging by the number of NSW-registered cars, plenty of people do.
We flew. Remember the story a few months ago where a man in America was dragged – forcibly – off a flight that was overbooked? This trip started with my first flight from Canberra to Sydney being overbooked.
At check-in, Virgin asked if my wife and I would mind taking a later flight as they had a passenger with an overseas connection in Sydney. Alas, our travelling companions had already checked in so it was, apparently, too hard to bump the four of us to the next flight, even though we were more than willing to be pushed back an hour.
No big deal, except that as departure time crept ever closer, they still hadn’t sorted it. You can only imagine how the people with the international connection must have been feeling. With a few minutes to go, two customers were lured to a later flight and offered some time in the lounge.
So a bit strange, but everyday strange behaviour was still to come, after landing at both Sydney and Ayers Rock* Airport. As soon as the announcement was made that items could be retrieved from the overhead lockers, the majority of passengers stood up and got hold their luggage. And then continued to stand. For ages, unable to go anywhere as the plane doors were still shut.
Strange. Or sheep-like.
One of the highlights of Uluru is the Field of Light, an after-dark experience which is exactly what the name described: A huge field, illuminated by thousands of lights at ground level. It was a great chance for some people to exhibit behaviour that harks back decades. Check out Olympic footage from the 1980s. At almost any event, as soon as the starter’s gun fired, thousands of people took photos with pocket cameras sparking a flash that nicely illuminated the back of the head of the person in front.
With that in your mind, imagine an area the size of at least four football fields, lit up under the inky desert sky, by around 50,000 lights at ground level. And sure enough, people took photos of it using a flash. Strange.
One more? Sure. If you haven’t been to Uluru, take my word for it that it’s big. It’s the biggest single piece of rock in the world. But just 50 kilometres away is Kata Tjuta (used to be called the Olgas, a story for another time, but again a strange one).
Kata Tjuta is a collection of some three-dozen rock domes, some of which are taller than Uluru, and they stretch across a much greater distance. They’re not that far apart when you think about how far most people have to travel to get to them, yet over the past six decades, the tourism has revolved much more around the one big, impressive rock, as opposed to the huge rock formation just up the road.
Yeah, strange. But that’s people for you.
*Yes, it’s still called Ayers Rock Airport, despite that sobriquet being dropped from common usage decades ago. Strange.
Chris Coleman is the presenter of “Canberra Live”, 3pm-6pm, weekdays on 2CC.