As the plane approached Uluru there was eager excitement all round to spot the great rock from the air and luckily the plane circled for landing and so all got a birds-eye view of the infamous monolith as we approached the runway. It is really peculiar and amazing the way the massive rock protrudes from the never-ending flat landscape like a loaf of bread on a bread board (Ellen laughed at this description but that’s what it looks like!). It is actually a mass of sedimentary rock laid down in an alluvial plain from the erosion of a great mountain-scape, only to then be turned 90 degrees on its side – hence the striations that we see in the rock.
Uluru draws people like a moth to a flame and it does not disappoint. It is not just a rock, it is so much more – it is alive, alive with wonderful scents and sounds, with a rich diversity of flora and fauna and with a sense that it has been this way since the dawn of time. The colours are the brightest reds and the sky the deepest blues, and the rock is not smooth but it is indented
with numerous caves, gorges & fractures. The concentration of colours in such a bright clean atmosphere is incredible. It is not just a geological feature as I was expecting, but it is teeming with life around the base, has numerous cultural sites such as ancient paintings and evidence of many thousands of years of occupation.
During a short base walk (climbing the rock is not permitted in extreme temps & discouraged at any time out of respect for the Anangu aboriginal people, the current custodians, as it is a sacred place for them) we really felt its immense presence which is 10 km in circumference and a 1000ft high. We are all familiar with the view from a distance but in close quarters as we passed around you see waves of smooth gulleys, a honeycomb of holes, lines of ridges and waterholes providing a welcome freshness and oasis.
There is also an inspirational and tastefully done eco- cultural centre which provides information on the rock, the wildlife, the Anangu people and their dreamtime stories. There is much respect for the traditional owners, the Anangu, and it was handed back to them in 1985. It is only the second
place in the world to be listed as a World Heritage site for its cultural landscape as well as its natural landscape. I came away from being up close to Uluru feeling it is a very spiritual, incredibly beautiful place and the immenseness of it is quite breathtaking.
After the sunset viewed from afar, we stayed the night in the back-packers Outback Pioneer Campsite, at Ayers Rock Resort – this site contains all
accommodation and eatery’s, and as such they have you over a barrel and charge the most outrageous prices, so best not to stay too long unless you carry all supplies with you. There was a typical rowdy country band on in the bar which we enjoyed along with the rabble and camaraderie of the other guests. If only Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving & Guy Pierce (”Priscilla”) had been performing in drag it would have made my trip!
Alice Springs, can there be any more isolated town? When you’ve flown for 5 hours across nothing, literally nothing but dessert & bush, then driven 5 hours across the same, what possesses anyone to live here, pretty though it is, I wonder. There are many down and out
aboriginal folk and not a great deal else. But, there is one epic event that I would have loved to have seen – The Henley on Todd Regatta – the annual boat race on the local Todd River; however, this river has been dry for umpteen decades and so the local guys grab a boat, stamp their feet through the hull and then run down the river with the boat around their hips!!! What a scream! The other reason I like this place is ‘Alice is Wonderland’ – where there is a gay scene and reminded me of one of my favourite movies, ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ and of the challenging trip they had there! There is no other town like Alice!
The ‘red centre’ is fabulous, I just LOVE it. There is more to it than is expected and there are a myriad of places and sites that I want to return to one day – Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), Finke Gorge, Kings Canyon, Mount Connor and the McDonnel Ranges. One day I will explore these places when I have a month or so to spare to really devote the time they deserve, one day...
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