Published: July 5th 2011June 6th 2011
31 May - 5 June 2011
You can't go to the Red Centre without doing the three major tourist attractions and they certainly didn't disappoint! We stayed 3 nights at Kings Canyon which allowed us to do the short walk into the base of the canyon and also the walk to Kathleen Springs one day and then the 6km walk around the perimeter of the canyon the following day.
The drive to Kings Canyon was an interesting one as we thought we were heading into a huge dust storm but later realised it was backburning on a very large scale. We couldn't turn around because of distances, etc so we were feeling a little anxious for a short time. We have noticed since being in the N.T. that the backburning takes place on a large scale with not a single fire fighter in sight to keep control of the situation. I guess they know the vegetation well enough to know there is no real danger in the fire escalating. We did notice, however, surrounding the Kings Canyon Resort and Campground was a sprinkler system - for safety measures I suppose...
Our stay at Kings Canyon was a memorable
one. The canyon itself is spectacular and the 6km walk around the perimeter is a difficult one - starting with 500 steps at a steep incline and then followed by a rocky walk with more steps and boulders to navigate over. We took a picnic and stopped halfway for lunch with a view. Reef went really well with the walk and now has another long difficult walk to add to his growing list. He is at the stage where he only wants to go on long walks now! So with the short walks we find ourselves telling him at the beginning that "yes, this one is a long walk Reef" to keep him happy!
At the resort, there was entertainment each night in the outdoor bbq area. The Roadies, which consisted of Ruben and Petrea (an older couple who have been entertaining the troops for 6 nights a week, 8 months a year, for the last 11 years), kept us entertained with song, dance and audience participation. I got roped up on the first night to make a fool of myself and by the third night our shy four year old had been hijacked by his inner performing artist
and he was stinging to get onstage and play instruments in front of the crowd. He has changed so much in the last few months and really building up his confidence. He now approaches other kids and asks to play with them all the time. When we arrive somewhere new, he takes off on his bike in search of other small people and usually returns home with one or two or we find him around their camp somewhere. He knows not to go inside anyone's camp and always comes and asks for permission to do anything out of the norm (god knows what's the norm when you're travelling around the country...) As parents we put a lot of trust in him because he has earnt it, but we always try to be safety conscious - with Alex around, that's a given!
In Oscar, Reef has found a "mini me". Oscar is like his shadow, following him around and copying him to such detail at times. If Reef absent-mindedly steps on a rock or leaf, we can be sure Oscar's little foot will come down on the exact same spot seconds later. It's quite fascinating to watch them sometimes, but
even so Oscar is still very stubborn and independent and will often not be told by anyone!
It's so heartwarming to see them growing such a strong bond as friends and brothers. Hopefully this trip is forging a lifelong friendship - considering they share a bed every night, I guess they have no choice but to be close!
Another memorable Kings Canyon moment was the wild dingoes roaming free through the campground. We had one walk between our camper and the neighbouring camper one afternoon, not to mention the ones howling in the campground throughout the night. It's amazing to see them howling so close up. We're pretty sure one was under our bed howling one night (the beds pop out either end of the camper and sit about 1.5m off ground level). It was deafening but exciting at the same time. There are signs everywhere not to feed them and the amenities have gates on them so the dingoes can't get in - imagine stumbling out of the loo one night only to be staring a dingo in the eye...
You can't really afford to stay at Kings Canyon for more than a few nights unless
you have recently won the lottery, so off we continued down to Uluru. We stayed at the Ayres Rock Campground in Yulara which is as close to the rock as you can stay. You always hear how amazing Uluru is but it doesn't really soak in until you see it with your own eyes (as opposed to someone else's eyes?). It is an awesome sight to see and to think that only one third of the rock is above the earth's surface is mind blowing. We respected the traditional owners and chose not to walk up Uluru, but instead did two walks around the base. Both walks led to two different gorges which both had water in them. Just as I was changing Oscar's dirty nappy beside the car with no one around, a tour bus full of people pulled up right next to us - all gawking at us out the windows. I guess they got more of a view than they bargained for...Yuck! I never realised that Uluru had so many caves and different surface textures, not to mention all the indigenous rock art (painting). It is an amazing place and although we didn't get any amazing sunsets
whilst we were there, we did get a pretty spectacular sunrise one morning.
We have learnt that so many people visit Uluru without going the extra 50kms to Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) - what a crime!! Kata Tjuta is just as amazing as Uluru but in a different way. Just to compare the difference of texture in the surface of the rock is extraordinary. We did another long walk to the Valley of the Winds Lookout (luckily for me Oscar was being carried by Alex...) where we rolled out our picnic rug to take in the amazing views. This view to me looked so fake that it was like being on the set of a fairytale - absolutely stunning! We could have sat there for days. We also walked to Walpa Gorge (part of Kata Tjuta) which had soaring red rock walls either side of it.
Even though the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is expensive to get in, you can't help feeling so blessed to be able to be so up close and personal to such spectacular natural wonders.
There are more photos below