Yes, Zach and I have made it out of the Outback. A 2.5 hour flight delievered from the Outback to the ocean city of Cairns in the northeast of Australia. Before I write about Cairns, a few last thoughts about Uluru/Ayers Rock.
Uluru itself is quite stunning, we drove around the entire base this morning before our flight (much better with a blue sky). It's biggest detractor by far is the number of flys in the area during the summer months. They just never wanted to leave me alone. Nonetheless, Zach and I both feel that seeing the Outback was a key component to the trip -- it's like nothing we've seen before. For future travellers, consider avoiding Ayers Rock Resort and just making the trip from Alice Springs in one day (probably 10+ hours total). The Resort is a complete monopoly and charge outrageous prices for everything (plus us late risers couldn't find breakfast for less than $25).
Now, onto Cairns. So far, it's great. Cairns is situated right on the ocean and we have a GREAT view from the balcony in our hotel room. The Outrigger is located in one of the hottest, busiest parts of town. There are a ton of hoping restaurants in walking distance and the town is great. It's 8:35pm right now and all of the restaurants are still packed (unlike Melbourne and Alice Springs). We had pizza at an outdoor cafe on the water (La Pizza) and quickly found a nice internet cafe nearby. We'll be off to bed soon (after some gelato), so that we can get some sleep before our 7:30a boat leaves for the Great Barrier Reef -- TOMORROW IS SCUBA DAY!!
I'll post tomorrow with details on our dives. And if I find that stingray that got Steve Irwin, let's just say he'll be avenged. ;-)