Travelling Australia
Wayne & Pam BENTLEY

Wednesday 1st June 2005 to Friday 3rd June 2005

Wednesday 1st June 2005

After yesterdays 700 kilometres drive and the fact that we have not had a chance to see where the roads go around Uluru, we decided to forego the sunrise view of the 'Rock' this morning and have a look around during the day first and look forward to the sunset tonight. Perhaps tomorrow morning we will see the sun rise over Uluru.

Now we have joined the thousands, or should I say millions that have seen Uluru from this angle. As we drove into the Uluru - Kata Tjuta Park we passed through the Ranger Post and paid our $25 each that gave us access to the park for the next three days (there are no daily entry fees). A short distance down the road we came to the 'sunset' viewing parking area and this is where most postcard and poster images of Uluru are taken from. The 'Rock' gave out a rather pinkish red tinge of colour and even though it was not as dramatic as we expect the sunset or sunrise to be, it was still a magnificent sight and the colour changed from the time we entered to the time we left some four hours later. The photograph above was taken on our way out of the park at about 2:pm.

Once we arrived at the base of the rock our first stop was at the car park at the bottom of the climb. there are signs everywhere from the traditional owners asking that people respect their laws and culture by not climbing. This does not put a lot of people off doing so though and there would be no doubt that it could be hazardous to health. It is a steep climb and if someone lost their footing and started to fall, there is nothing to stop them tumbling all the way to the bottom and certain death. However the major health risk may be from a heart attack due to the exertion required to reach the top.

We walked around the base of the rock past Mala Puta and as far as Kantju Gorge which was amazing as it was reasonably warm in the sun, however as soon as we entered the shade of the gorge it became quite cool. It would be a great place to rest up in the heat of a really hot day.

The Rock looks different from up close and has a large number of overhanging rocks creating large and small shelters, some of which have aboriginal cave paintings on their walls.The steep sides are marked in many places with water markings caused by the flow of rain off the top in the wet season.

The size of Uluru is quite amazing and is best observed from a distance as it is 10 kilometres around the base and 546 metres high. From close to the base there are never ending rock shapes and features eroded into the side of the rock.

Once we had completed our short stroll around a small part of the rock, we continued our drive which took us all the way around and back to the Cultural Centre where we took time to look into the past of the traditional owners and to view paintings and traditional items on display.

It was then time to return to the caravan as 'One of Us' was complaining of pains in the stomach - hunger pains of course. On the way we stopped at the sunset car park and took the photograph shown above, then completed our return trip.

After preparing most of the web site content, we cooked up some chicken on the BBQ and made a salad, then at 5:pm we set off again for the sunset viewing car park. We thought we would have been one of the first vehicles there, however we were wrong!!! Still, we managed to find a good spot and set up the chairs, table, camera tripods, along with the chicken and salad dinner before we popped the cork on the cold bottle of champaign and sat back waiting for the light show. It is difficult to describe the changes of the light and shadow on the rock and well worth the visit, even if it is a long way to come to get here. Unfortunately the camera doesn't really do the colour changes justice.

After enjoying the meal, champaign and the changing light on the rock, we packed up at about 6:45 and made our way back to the caravan for the night.

Thursday 2nd June 2005

We are not sure who says you must see the sun rise on Uluru, however just before 6:am this morning we wished he had kept it to himself. Nevertheless we did drag ourselves out of bed and by about 6:15am we set off on a 4 degree dark morning for the 'Rock', arriving at the entry to the park just prior to it opening at 6:30am. We thought this would have been in plenty of time and were only about eight or ten vehicles back in the line, unfortunately they let all the busses through their lane before we were allowed through, so this meant that parking was fairly hard to come by close to the viewing section. We did find a spot though and settled back, or should we say stood out in the cold, waiting for the sun to do it's thing and rise above the eastern horizon.

Unfortunately there was a little hazy cloud on that horizon which diffused the light a little as the sun rose, but the 'Rock' did change from a very dark blob through shadowed maroon to a light red over the period of the sunrise. Automatic cameras do not capture the subtle colour changes and you do have to use your imagination a bit to get the most out of the viewing, however it is worth doing it once. If we are totally honest though, we like the red and pink colours and the shadows of the day even more than the sunset or sunrise viewing.

After the sun had 'done it's thing', we returned to the caravan where 'One of Us' turned the heater up and climbed back into bed to warm up whilst the 'Other One' cooked a breakfast of bacon, eggs, baked beans and toast.

It was then time for us to make our way to Kata Tjuta, better known as The Olgas. We left the caravan park at about 10:45 a.m, filled the Patrol up with diesel (at 140.6 cpl) and entered the National Park again, however this time we turned west for about 30 kilometres before we stopped at a viewing location on the side of the road. After walking along the path to the top of a red sand hill, we had a view across low bushland to the southern side of the stone formations that we know as The Olgas. Unfortunately, from this angle the side we were looking at the slopes were covered in shade and it was not as impressive as it could have been in clear light. We were also able to look back to Uluru from this lookout point and it gave some perspective to these features compared to the surrounding low land.

We then continued on around The Olgas to the north west corner where we stopped in the car park near the start of the Walpa Gorge walk. Well equiped with high spirits and little else we tackled the 2.6 kilometre walk into the gorge. This was not the same as walking at the base of Uluru and it would be wrong to try to compare the two locations. One fascinating aspect of The Olgas is the makeup of the stone they are formed with, as it is just like oversized concrete made by using odd sized river stones, as can be seen in the image on the right. The walk starts out in the sun then quickly enters the shaded area between the steep faces of the towering rock formations on both sides. There is also greatly increased wind strength as it funnels through the gorge. We managed to reach the end of the walk and then returned to the Patrol about an hour and a half later.

We then drove around to the Valley of the Winds walk car park but decided against tackling this walk. From here we visited the Sunset Viewing area a short distance back along the road, however it was difficult to get a photograph from any of these points that complimented The Olgas as a whole, unlike Uluru where there are plenty of viewing areas far enough back to photograph it all.

It wa then time to return to the caravan park for the afternoon and prepare for our journey tomorrow that will take us as far as Alice Springs. We arrived back at the caravan at about 2:30pm.

Approachiong Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

Kata Tjuta - Just like oversize concrete

Walpa Gorge - Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

Friday 3rd June 2005

It was another moving day today and we were packed up and on the road by about 8:40am and traveling east along Lasseters Highway toward Stuart Highway.

We did not stop until we had turned north on Stuart Highway and put about 40 kilometers between us and that turn off. It was quite a popular road side stop as there were a couple of other vehicles there when we stopped and about three others also stopped before we moved off again on the last leg of our journey to Alice Springs.

As we moved closer to Alice Springs, the country started to change and we found ourselves traveling through more and more red rock break away hills. The whole trip was reasonably uneventful until 'One of Us' screamed out some obscenities as she caught sight of some wild camels on the side of the highway. She had been looking for them all last trip we were in the north and had not seen any until now. the 'Other One' can only imagine that the obscenities were in fact cries of joy....

We pulled in to the Macdonnell Holiday Park at about 2:40pm and set ourselves up to stay here for the next week. We then drove into the city centre of Alice Springs and located the Coles Store where we purchased some mushrooms to make a sauce for the steak on the BBQ tonight. We then returned to the caravan park in time to participate in the essential beer o'clock activities.

Just another day in the Red Centre