Uluru sunset

Uluru sunset

Last weeks post covered the start of our Red Centre adventure. Here’s what we got up to on the rest of the trip.

Day 3 – Kata Tjuta and Uluru sunset

Day 3 was unfortunately a 5am start! There were still a lot of stars about, and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t had any decent sleep! We were all up, had camp packed up, ate breakfast and were on the bus and off by 6am.

We headed off past Uluru, admiring it out the windows as we went, and on to Kata Tjuta – also known as the Olgas. Kata Tjuta is about 25km west of Uluru, and a collection of many dome shaped rock formations. We went on a walk around them for a few hours, admiring all the cool shapes and the bright blue sky against the red rock and green of the plans. The walk included a climb up between two big rocks with cool views back down the valley afterwards.

The area was very cool. We had researched it, so would have gone if we had done the trip ourselves. It was formed by similar geological processes and around the same time as Uluru, but is nowhere near as well known. Maybe it’s harder to market when it isn’t one big rock. If you’re going to the area I’d definitely recommend a trip.

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta

After lunch we headed to Uluru and spent some time at the cultural centre, learning about the Aboriginal Anangu people in the area, their culture and why they ask that you show them respect and don’t climb up Uluru, which is a sacred place for them. As well as the spiritual side there are environmental issues with climbing it too – as you’d expect for a natural chunk of rock, there’s no toilets or bins and many people seem to think its OK to leave all their rubbish at the top. We only had about an hour there, and I would have liked to of had more time. There is a board of 8 people who manage Uluru, 4 Anangu and 4 from Government, 1 of which is the tourism rep. They need to all agree to close the walk up, and every year the tourism people vote no. (In 2084 it will stop anyway, when the lease runs out). There are some condition now, where if less than 20% of people visiting walk up, or there are 40 total deaths on the rock they will close the walk (there have been 35 so far).

People walking up Uluru

People walking up Uluru

We did a short part of the walk around the base, saw a cave with Aboriginal art in and learnt about some of the different symbols used in the artwork. The views of the rock from around the bottom are really interesting, so we didn’t see the need to climb up.

That evening we watched sunset while Kellie cooked us dinner. We even had some sparkling wine. The viewing spot was fairly quiet when we got there, but rapidly filled up with A LOT of tour buses. We had a good spot and mainly ignored them, but it did slightly detract from the experience. I guess any other designated spot would be pretty similar though. I had my tripod so got some cool shots. The rock really did change colour as the sun went down and lit it up differently. Apparently geologists have worked out it extends a full 6km under ground which is pretty impressive.

That night we had another fire and ate smores – a toasted marshmallow and piece of chocolate sandwiched between biscuits! Whilst they were good I reckon the marshmallows by themselves are just as tasty. We caped in the swags again, and I slept really well having been so knackered from not much sleep the night before!

Day 4 – Uluru sunrise and base walk

On the final day of the tour we for a lie in and got up at 5.30am – woo! We packed up and headed back to Uluru to watch the sunrise with our breakfast. The sun actually rose slightly to the side of the rock, and it was a bit cloudy so not that impressive. Sunset was definitely better views, but there was nobody else there this time which was much better.

After sunrise we went on the rest of the 10km walk around the base of Uluru. It was really very cool, with loads of different shapes and features in the rock. There were smooth undulating bits, foldy bits, bits with holes and part that looked like a whale. I really enjoyed the walk around the bottom. The classic picture of Uluru is the whole rock with sunrise / sunset, but when you walk around it you realise how many interesting features it has. We saw a watering hole, and some more caves with paintings.

Whale shape in Uluru

Whale shape in Uluru

Some of the areas were specific sacred sites for the Anangu people, so you are not allowed to take epicures of them. They are used for sacred rituals, mainly related to gender, so people of the opposite sex aren’t allowed to see the place, and if you take photos of it they might come across them.  I took a lot of pictures of the other bits though, some of which are below. For me this was my favourite part of the trip, followed by Kata Tjuta.

After the walk we got dropped back at the resort. This is basically the only official place to stay in the National Park, and it has a range of options from camping which we did to hotels, apartments and posh camping in tents. We chilled out there with an ice cream until it was time to get the free shuttle bus back to Ayers Rock airport. This seemed more efficient that completing the full tour by spending 6+ hours in the bus going back to Alice, and about 3/4 of the group did the same thing!

Domey bit of Uluru

Domey bit of Uluru

Overall we really enjoyed the tour. The schedule with the long days and early starts was pretty gruelling, but we managed to fit a lot into a short time, and having all the food and arrangements sorted did make life fairly easy. The tour was pretty active which was good, and we certainly didn’t have any time to get bored. There was some faff, and I probably would have got frustrated about sticking to someone else’s itinerary for anything longer than the few days we did. It was definitely good value for money and we had an excellent time, even if I did feel like I needed a holiday after to recover! 🙂

Foldy holey bit of Uluru

Foldy holey bit of Uluru

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