BEAUTIFUL, BIG ‘ROCKS’- Uluru, Kata Tjuta & Kings Canyon.

Its almost overwhelming visiting these three areas together as all are distinct and very impressive.  We started with an Uluru Day and even got up at 6am so we could make the 10 am Guided Ranger walk at Uluru.  In 1985 Ayers Rock was given back the the traditional owners and then leased back to the Federal Government on a 99 year lease.  It is now under joint management and the local aboriginal people, The Anangu, have a major say in how the park is run.  On the guided walk we learned a lot about the aboriginal history, stories and legends at Uluru. The ranger was very respectful of the aboriginal history of the rock and he strongly reinforced the messages we had been given about not climbing the rock and being respectful and not photographing areas marked as ‘sensitive areas’, and there were a lot of those areas as we walked around the rock- some were marked as men’s places and some were women’s places.  After the 1.5 hour guided walk we carried on walking around the 11km base of the rock, so we walked from 10-3:15pm.  We saw two gorges with water, lots of caves and interesting indentations.  Its an impressive and imposing monolith.  The day we were there the rock was closed for climbing, and although climbing is offensive to the local people, each year 30-40,000 people still climb the rock and people still die doing the climb.  It is not easy, and I know that from personal experience over 30 years ago, before it was known to be offensive to climb the rock.

Our base walk was a big effort as it was quite hot doing the walk, but we had already booked that evening to see Bruce Munroe’s Field of Light, a major light installation (the size of seven football fields) in the desert near the rock, so we caught the bus at 7:30pm and headed off for another new experience.  This man-made light installation is also impressive but in a totally different way.  All in all it was a big day and I was so tired I could hardly speak at the end of the evening.

Gave ourselves a bit of a rest day but did visit the large Cultural Center in the national park near Uluru – the history relating to the white settlers and their treatment of the aborigines is covered extensively through film and displays and is a shameful reflection on the behavior of non-aborigines toward aborigines around Uluru from the days of early settlement to today.  We were not aware that the park is dual listed by UNESCO for outstanding natural and outstanding cultural values (this honors the traditional belief systems of one of the oldest human societies on earth).

Then we had our Kata Tjuta day – which means ‘Many Heads’ and is how the aborigines describe the 36 domes that make up this rock formation.  We went to some viewing spots before tackling the main walk through the Valley of the Winds.  I had just had the stitches taken out of my knee and it had been more swollen after the Uluru walk, so we only went to the first lookout (2.2kms) but would have loved to do the complete circuit as it looked lovely walking through the very unusual dome shapes.  We did also do the Walpa Gorge walk (2.6kms) so got a sense of the various formations.  The sun came out in the afternoon so we headed back to do a sunset viewing session of Uluru at the nominated viewing place.  It was a bit of a circus with lots of cars, people, tripods etc but we did see some nice colors on the rock.  Everywhere in this area has been crowded since its one of Australia’s top tourist destinations and we’ve noticed lots of overseas tourists as well as locals.  Looking forward to going to less popular spots! and already noticed a difference at the next stop-Kings Canyon.

Our Kings Canyon day was really good.  After much deliberation and probably against my better judgement because of my sore knee, I did do the stand out walk – the Kings Canyon Rim Walk.  It was a spectacular 5km walk, with an initial steep climb and then wonderful colors, shapes and views.  Not good for the knee but good for the soul.  Probably one of the best 5 km walks I have ever done.  We had a mild, sunny day which was perfect for walking and between us we took 137 photos but severe culling has already been done.


The Ranger guide telling us a story in one of the special caves in Uluru


One side of Uluru


Doing the base walk around Uluru


One of the gorges in Uluru


The start of the base walk and also of the climb which goes straight up to the left of the sign


Field of Light
The individual, color-changing lights that make up the display
Classic shot of Kata Tjuta


The lookout in Valley of Winds walk
Walpa Gorge ( photo taken by guy who used to work in Coles in Lindfield)
Sunset at Uluru
Signs in the campground warning about dingoes
Climbing up Kings Canyon (van in carpark below)Kings Canyon walk
Canyon views
More canyon views
Amazing colors
Looking into the Garden of Eden


Domes in Kings Canyon


Alice Springs to Uluru

From Alice Springs to Uluru

Having a few days in Alice after the walk and today we did our first real tourist attraction by spending the day at the Desert Park.  Went to the session on ‘Aboriginal Survival in the Desert’, where we learnt a lot about tools and implements and how they were made, plus bush tucker and bush medicine and how to light a fire with kangaroo droppings (dried not fresh). Saw lots of birds and an excellant nocturnal house with birds, insects, snakes and animals.  Also went to a Free flying bird show which featured some well trained raptors including a wedge-tailed eagle.  A torrential downpour and hail storm hit us just at the end of the free flying bird show we were watching.  Didn’t realize we were in the middle of the worst June storm in Alice in 20 years- 163mm of rain fell in 24 hours and the average rainfall for the month of June is 13mm.  Driving back to the van park we saw a town covered with white hail stones, flooded main streets and most of the shops were shut due to storm damage.  Many roads were closed and the Todd River was flowing -unusual as it is generally dry.  The Desert Park is rated as the ‘must see’ attraction in Alice and we were impressed with the calibre of the displays and presentations and the overall layout of the park; very compatible with its stunning natural surroundings.

We departed Alice after a quick stop at the hospital to check my knee; decided to leave stitches in longer and I should try to keep my leg up (easier said than done!). Had a pleasant sunny drive heading for Uluru and ended up all alone in a deserted bush camp with a stunning view of Mt Connor, about 100k’s from Uluru.

Much against my ‘better judgement’ I agreed with Dick’s strong suggestion that we stay in our bush camp for one day and I sat with my leg up all day (being waited on), and never left the van.  Ankle is almost back to normal size, but not my idea of a fun day, especially with no internet or phone.

Back on the road today and set up in the Yulara Resort campground near Uluru for 4 nights.  Had a sunset viewing of Uluru/Ayers Rock, saw some aboriginal bush dancing and had our first dinner out since we left home.

The joys of public showers and injured legs
A sunny day in the Desert Park


Dingo (native wild dog) at the Desert Park


Wedge-tailed eagle performing as the storm approaches


Hail ended the show in the amphitheatre


Dick got soaked in the storm (hail like snow on the ground)


Flooded Alice and a running Todd River


The private bush camp and view of Mt Conner


The moon coming up as last sun rays linger over our camp


Sunset view of Uluru


Putitja Dancers doing a traditional bush dance