Again I spent the first few hours of the journey asleep and when I woke we were still 4 hours from our destination. The temperature was already up in the high 30s and was threatening to prevent us from doing any walking. Unfortunately it didn't prevent tour guide Tom from playing the atrocious Australian equivalent of Chas 'N Dave and insisting everyone do the actions under threat of being dumped in the outback.
"Give me a home among the gum trees,
with lots of plum trees,
a sheep or two, a ka-kangaroo.
A clothes line out the back, verandah out the front,
and an old rocking chaaaaair....... "
Each animal had an appropriate hand action. I certainly knew which hand action was most appropriate. I sat with my arms resolutely folded like a child who had not won the Knight Rider keyring during pass the parcel.
The Red Centre, as it's known, comprises three natural features: Uluru (Ayres Rock), Kata Tjuta and King's Canyon, which many professed to be their favourite, although for me was the least impressive on account of our truncated tour and resemblance to the Peak District if it was painted pillar box red.
Another hellishly long drive and were approaching Uluru. And it is at its most impressive on approach; appearing seemingly from nowhere, ominously dominating the skyline, eerie and foreboding, and standing out in sharp relief against the flatness of the surrounding land.
Over to the observation area to watch the setting sun cast its purple hues against the rock, and then back to camp for kangaroo steak.
That night I camped out under the stars. Using a swag (a cross between a sleeping bag and a huge bulletproof vest) and my rucksack as a pillow, I gazed up at a trillion pin points of light showering down. I listened to some suitably epic Sigur Ros track and lay counting shooting stars. I counted 7 before I fell asleep. A real moment.
I was up at 4.30 am next morning to catch the Uluru sunset. We made our way round the base of the rock as the sun turned it to glowing ochre. I really hadnt appreciate how rough and craggy it was. I assumed it was smooth and rounded but it is riddled with holes punched messily into the side and shattered scree litters the floor.
Final visit of the day was the most impressive. Kata Tjuta looks like a boxing glove slices up by a pizza cutter. Or an alien city fashioned from bright red Playdoh. A walk between the giant rock bollocks revealed a truly otherworldy landscape of blood red sand and giant magenta meatballs.
And amongst it a sight only myself and Riccardo (from Milan) saw. A lone kangaroo stood stock still staring us down. I spotted it first and nudged the blabbering Riccardo into silence, but upon aiming our cameras it bolted across our path and headed off down the escarpment.
From there a wearisome 5 hour journey back to Alice. A total of 1300km which added to the 1600km from Coober Pedy made nearly 3000km in 4 days. And I haven't even started on my Greyhound bus ticket yet.