Uluru


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Published: June 10th 2012
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Canyon walk
24th May To Uluru!

This morning we drove back to King’s Canyon and we all saw a dingo! Just trotting around near the parking area! Then Howard, Matt and Rob went off to do the King’s Canyon Rim Walk while Debbie and I stayed in the MH, chatted and drank tea! The look of the sheer steps with no hand rails going straight up to the top of the canyon was enough to put us off, we reckoned they would be quicker without us anyway so we were doing them a favour really ha ha.

They returned in record time and said it was fantastic but Matt and Rob were soon lying down for a kip! We carried on to the Uluru resort area where we checked into the campsite. I have now been officially sacked as the checker iner and Debbie has taken over (I just cannot lie about how many people are in the van!). So with Matty hiding in the top bunk, Rob under the duvet in the back and me under the table feeling guilty, but we got in as 2 people and saved a small fortune over the 3 days we were staying.

The campsite is very large and we were a good way away from the reception so it was all good. The resort area consists of one camp ground, a posh hotel and a couple of other nice hotels and a free shuttle bus that runs round them all and takes you into the Town Square area. This is where there are a few souvenir shops, a supermarket, post office, couple of cafes and a green area where activities take place.

We were given a leaflet of the events and activities and I was delighted to see lots of Aboriginal cultural stuff going on and it was all free of charge! We were too late for the events today but caught the shuttle in to have a look round anyway. We came back with a cooked chicken and some salad for tea which seemed like heaven, planned tomorrow out – Howard off hiking and the rest of us having an Aboriginal day ( I’m soooo excited about that!), watched a dvd and so to bed.

25th May Uluru

Howard went off to Kata Tjuta aka the Olgas and did the Valley of the Winds and Walpa Gorge walks,
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sunset
he then unbeknown to us went to Uluru and climbed it! (against my wishes for it is sacred to the Aborigines and they ask people not to do this), he fell over a couple of times and hurt one finger as it was very steep he said.

Meanwhile Deb, Matty, Rob and I set off on the shuttle bus to the town square and our day of Aboriginal cultural delights! First stop the town square central courtyard where we sat and listened to Buller playing the didgeridoo. Debbie and I went over to chat to him and he informed us that amongst it’s many uses (ceremonial, healing etc) the didgeridoo can be used to attract the female of your choice and draw her to you!! So when I sat down to have my photo taken with him Deb warned him I was married ha ha. We found out that only males can play the didgeridoo for cultural reasons much to Rob’s amusement as he knew I couldn’t argue about that one, but I was sorely tempted!

We went to Bush Yarns in the Circle of Sand and heard about the warrior/hunters’ tool kit – spear, spear thrower, club
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Howard at the top!
and non-returnable boomerang, which the guy who was talking to us told us is the kit his mob (tribe) use for hunting in desert areas. The spears can be thrown vast distances and can go right through a kangaroo’s side and out again.

He told us stories about the other tribes hunting methods and weapons. Only men hunt as they have the strength and can’t cook!!! Aboriginal life is based on very traditional roles and apparently women can survive in a desert with only a wooden bowl and a digging tool.

We were then shown how a spear and non-returnable boomerang are thrown and he explained that other boomerangs which do return are used by tribes in water areas. They are thrown by warriors on each side of a river over the heads of a flock of birds to make them fly low enough for other hunters in the river to kill them.

We then visited the visitor’s centre which had good exhibitions about both Uluru and the wildlife in the area. Following this it was time for the Wakagetti Cultural Dancers show. This was a group of 3 male dancers (including Buller) all in traditional dress
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Howard climbs Ayers Rock
and white paint and one man who kind of compered the event and sang.

Buller told the story of the didgeridoo, which actually has another name which I can’t remember!, and how it was discovered by a hunter in the bush. He heard the sounds and tracked them to a fallen hollow log, the wind was blowing through it making the different noises. The didgeridoo is used to imitate the wind and various animals noises, he demonstrated these and how a kangeroo’s bouncing can be mimicked. He explained how circular breathing, voice box, lips and toungue movements are all used to play the didgeridoo and make the various sounds.

The ritual meeting dance was performed, using spears, the person wishing to enter a tribe’s land must then wait (this can be up to months long) to be judged. If they are found respectful and humble enough they will be allowed into the tribe’s lands.

The Emu, Kangaroo and Praying Mantis dances were performed and there was a bit of audience participation which we all skilfully avoided being picked for. At the end the compere and each of the dancers introduced himself and said who his tribe was and his lineage from his mother and grandmother. They each thanked the local tribe for allowing them to dance there and the uncles who taught the dances and created the songs. Me, Rob and Deb had a group photo taken with them, great stuff!

We got back to the campsite just as Howard was returning with the camper van luckily. Microwaved box meals for tea again tonight! Howard showed us his impressive photos and we examined his war wound, thank goodness for Germolene.

We walked up a hillock on the site to watch the sunset on Ayers Rock and yes it did change colour!

26th May Uluru and the big walk!

By now dodging paying fees wherever possible is the norm so the 4 of us hid in the back, 3 in our normal positions and Deb in the loo! And we drove into the Uluru park with Howard waving his 3 day visitor pass from yesterday.

After a photo stop we visited the Visitors Centre which was really informative, with lots of information about Ayers Rock, the area and traditional customs and legends. We watched a film showing traditional dances and looked at the
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Cave
paintings and handicrafts – which were mega expensive, oh well no way I could fit a didgeridoo in the rucksack anyway! I got the sense that the Aboriginal way of life is very simple and this is reflected in the paintings which have an almost child like innocent feel to them. All the trappings of so called modern life do not seem to hold much relevance.

We then carried on to the car park near the Uluru climb where we parked to start our walk – right round the base of Uluru! 7 miles!! First though we looked at the climb and I just gawped! It was so steep with only a steel chain to grab onto for the first part of the climb, how Howard did it I do not know! We saw several people slipping and coming down on their bums or getting freaked out by it and they weren’t very far up!

So onto the walk…. The sections near the rock were interesting with sacred places, caves, rock paintings in caves and 2 waterholes to examine on the way round. There were large areas that were away from the rock which were hard going and
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Rock paintings
there was only 1 water tap which was half way round our route. Still we all did it, Debbie and I shook each other’s hands as we crossed the finish line and both felt as if we had really achieved something…….we then collapsed! A hot shower back at the campsite went part way to helping us revive.

Tea was from the garage, as on the way back we filled up with petrol and discovered they did chicken and chips. However by the time we walked back there the food was about to finish for the day so there wasn’t much chicken, but bless them they especially made us some chips and then gave us all the grub left in the hot cabinet for free - so we shared a large quantity of dim sum, chicken wings and a fish and spent the evening singing daft songs based on the first letter of the alphabet.

It was an early night tonight as we were all knackered!

27th May Back to Alice Springs and the end of the Outback Adventure.

After breakfast and the other established campsite ritual of Rob feeding biscuits to all the punk pigeons (well
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Will she make it?
they had amazing mohawks) and the odd other bird that managed to get a look in we started back down the road to Alice Springs.

We stopped at the viewpoint for Mt. Connor and climbed the hill to get photos only to discover on the other side of the hill a vast partly dried up lake that seemed to go on for miles – it looked kind of like a salt lake and was totally unexpected.

I finally got to see some wild life in the bush – 2 Emus, I was well chuffed.

Back in Alice again we tried unsuccessfully to find internet access (we had flights to book), but we did find 2 pubs. The first one was called the Rock Pub but had no rock, the second one was next door and was called Bo Jangles Saloon and what an amazing place it was! You entered through a pair of old wooden saloon doors and inside it was just like something out of the Wild West, the few locals who were in there did all turn round and stare at us before going back to their beers. The place was full of odd curiosities, there were saddles to sit on by the windows, there was a tribute to Meatloaf in a glass case with an old bike and a snake in it, boots were marching along the ceiling, the toilet door handle was the wrong way round and when you turned on a tap water came out of another sink!

When Debbie and I explored the back room we found ancient tills, snakes heads and various other weird and wonderful objects and then beyond that was a big yard. Here we found a couple of locals having a smoke and they invited us to join them, so we rounded up the others and went and sat with them plus another couple of Aussies who were touring as well. The yard had rusty old petrol pumps, with an ancient Harley on top and there was a really old rusty car which you could sit in (Rob and Matty’s photo opportunity).

We had a good laugh with everyone there and discovered the couple who were touring had sold up like us, bought a motor home, packed their 4 kids in it and taken off to explore their country! They were having a much needed
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With the Aboriginal dancers
bit of time on their own while some friends cooked the Sunday roast and looked after their kids for the afternoon. They also told us that no one tells the truth about how many people are in the vans when they check into a campsite!

Unfortunately we still had the MH with us so we couldn’t just stay in the pub and eventually we headed off to find a camp site for our final night.

Once again we snuck in as 2 people, with me hiding under the table. This time though the owner escorted the MH to our pitch and stood chatting to Debbie and Howard for ages, we were all relieved when it was finally fully dark and we could emerge!

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