1. Walpa Gorge WalkOur first walk at Kata Tjuta was into Walpa Gorge. It was a dead end valley which had a natural water trap, leading to a surprising array of vegetation and bird life.
2. ConglomerateThe Olgas are composed of a sedimentary rock called 'conglomerate' ie. pebbles through to small boulders cemented together - as in the rocks behind me. Uluru was sandstone but still contained the same minerals which 'rust' on contact with the air, making a very red landscape.
3. Dihydrogen MonoxideAfter our ascent into the gorge the valley floor dipped, creating a natural reservoir of Dihydrogen Monoxide, commonly known as water - probably the clearest pool we had seen so far.
4. Dead EndAt the head of the gorge the valley closed, but it was very civilised with a viewing platform and benches. With only the sounds of birds in the background it was a perfect place to sit quietly and reflect on the beauty and grandeur of this place.
5. Karu Lookout WalkAfter a short drive and rehydration we set out for Karu Lookout. It was now around midday and the temperature was in the mid thirties but the very low humidity made the conditions more bearable.
6. Mt Olga & friendsThe Olgas are 36 rock domes that date back 500 million years! The highest, known as Mt Olga shares its name with the rest. Walking amongst these ancient structures is special - the red rock & earth against a 'pitiless blue sky' - magic!
7. Karu LookoutFrom Karu Lookout you could see into the 'interior' of Kata Tjuta - the area hidden from view in standard tourist, sunset photos ... eg. photo no.8
This was the starting point for another, longer walk, but that's tomorrow's target.
8. Kata Tjutu standardAs we headed home we stopped at the sunset viewing park for this shot - check out Kata Tjuta on Wikipedia and you'll see the same shot of the 3 domes.
9. "Sounds of Silence"Wednesday night special - dinner in the desert, under the stars. We began on a paved but isolated dune. With champagne in hand we could view Uluru to our south and Kata Tjutu to the north.
10. Sunset to RememberAs the sun sank slowly in the west conversations were punctuated by the need to take photos. Hors d'oeuvres were served and bubbles refreshed.
11. Colourful Kata TjutaA beautiful sunset - one shot from a series, capturing the changing colours of the sky and the countryside beneath. With sunset we were called to leave the dune and follow a winding path down to our dining area.
12. Buffet Under the StarsWith table mates from Spain, Italy, England & Australia, conversation was interesting throughout the evening. The buffet was delicious & even Jan agreed that the bbq kangaroo was the pick of the meats! A balmy breeze and a full moon made this a special night.
13. High TemperaturesExpecting afternoon temps in the high thirties we headed back to Kata Tjuta to start our 3.5 hour, "Valley of the Winds" walk before the trail was closed (see photo)
14. Into The Valley of WindsAs we descended from Karu Lookout down to the valley beyond, the path was steep and you had to watch every foot placement due to the amount of loose rock & pebbles. In the shelter of these sheer rock walls there was no breeze & plenty of puffing :)
15. Karingana LookoutThe trail to this lookout was graded: 4 - Difficult, and we agreed! But oh, so picturesque - so grand & so many photos! Next, straight ahead into the valley beyond via a very steep path.
16. "Stairway to ..."The descent from Karingana Lookout was a trial in concentration - this was not the place to have a fall or twist an ankle!
17. Precious ShadeThe valley walk was very hot and shade was worth fighting for - also a good chance to sip some water & recharge the batteries.
18. Valley of the WindsOnce in the open valley a warm dry wind occasionally sprang up and gave us some relief as we felt the cooling effect of evaporating perspiration.
19. Nearly there!As we completed the loop walk beyond Karu Lookout we reached another area where water was supporting extra vegetation - the white barked gums & red domes reminded me of a Namatjira painting.
20. Final EveningFrom a dune in the centre of our Ayers Rock Resort property we watched our final sunset over this spectacular landscape.
"I love a sunburnt country...."