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Published: September 10th 2016
UluruTuesday 23rd August 2016
Just as well we did leave Curtin Springs early, as there was a queue of vans in front of us at the entrance to the camping area at Ayers Rock Resort and more coming.
Because all there large van sites were already occupied, they had to put us in the campervan area, which suited us as we were placed right at the rear with the bush behind us. We will be here for 4 nights as they had a special where we only pay for 3. This will give us plenty of time to explore and give us a rest from travel.
Ayers Rock Resort is like an oasis in the desert with various accommodations to suit every taste and budget. It tries to fit with the environment and is hard to see on approach as it is hidden behind a sand dune. Luckily, scientific know-how enables the resort to produce all the water it needs from the huge artesian basin underground. But most other supplies need to be transported from Adelaide, 1663 kilomteres away. Fully loaded road trains, and these are huge, arrive twice a week to supply the food
The group at sunset on the first day
and materials needed to run this outback resort. These road trains are 55metres long and carry 66 pallets of goods each trip!
After setting up we went for a drive around the resort, getting our bearings and testing our memories from our previous visit 10 years ago. After lunch we walked into the resort town square where there are several tourist shops, a bank, supermarket and some cafes. The ladies did a little shopping and the guys went to a talk by a visiting doctor of astronomy on galaxies etc.
The weather had changed completely by 1600 hrs, from being a sunny, still day, to one with cold wind and light rain. Very unseasonable according to the locals but it seemed to clear quite quickly.
We did however, go up to the nearby lookout and view the Rock just before sunset. It was bitterly cold, but we did get some good photos. From here we retired to Mark & Helena’s annexe, which they had put up for the first time, as it was the easiest area to heat. Dinner was had here before we returned to our own van.
Uluru Wednesday 24th August 2016
Walking around the base
Today we activated our 3 day pass into the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and decided it was a good day to walk around the rock itself. So we were up and away early, getting to the park just after 8.30am. The rock is immense and it's hard to imagine that it could possibly continue underground for 5 to 6 kilometers as the geologists guess. We first had a brief visit to the Visitors Centre where there was a display giving a background to the Rock and about the local indigenous people.
The walk itself is well marked and now further from the edge than we remember from our last visit It was quite interesting to see Ayers Rock from different angles and sides, the immensity of it hitting home after walking for about 4 hours or so, including a lunch stop and a few detours.
The afternoon was a very quiet time with people resting or nursing their out of practice muscles. Just before sunset we drove out to the parking area from which the best views of the Rock can be had as the
sun sets. Every few minutes the Rock seems to change colour until it becomes almost colourless when the light has faded completely. These moments are probably the most photographed event here, rightly so, hundreds of people lining the park to take the photos. Thursday 25th August 2916
Both groups went in different directions today, Mark & Helena up early to see the sun rise on Uluru and then on to the Cultural Centre, we packed a lunch and drove to Kata Tjuta (Olgas).
First stop for us was at the Dune Viewing area about 15kms before Kata Tjuta and a good view was had of both it and Uluru in the far distance. Kata Tjuta means ‘many heads’ in the local language and this is very apt with the multiple domes of stone rising out of the desert.
Judy wasn’t sure if she would be able to walk too far today so we settled on the Valley of the Winds walk, which had 3 alternative routes. As it was, she felt she could do the full circuit, which included the Karingana Lookout. The walk was
rated as Grade 4, Difficult, 4 hours walking, but we did this with ease in less than 3 hours including our lunch stop. We both really enjoyed this walk, the scenery with its valleys and creeks surrounded by the domes of conglomerate stone, each radiating different colours and hues whilst we were there. Uluru is magnificent, as we said before, but Kata Tjuta we felt, was a more spectacular sight in many ways.
The afternoon was spent with Judy working in the van and catching up on a few chores.
Pre-dinner drinks, dinner and coffee were as in the last few nights. Friday 26th August 2016
Judy managed to wake Rags at around 0500, tossing and turning until she finally got out of bed. Rags got the vibes that she wanted to see sunrise on Uluru so before 0600 we were on our way.
It is quite a distance to the morning viewing area but we joined the many others out there, braving the cold (0 degrees by the car thermometer) taking copious numbers of photos as light broke.
We dropped in to the Cultural Centre on
the way back, being served the first coffees and croissants for the day. Nice way to start it.
We returned to the campsite a fair while later, having spent time going through the exhibition at the Centre displaying indigenous life and the natural wildlife and fauna in the locality. Mark and Helena were just leaving to go on their trek at Kata Tjuta.
The rest of the morning was spent with Judy working, Rags reading and pottering about.
We did do a few of the free activities offered at Ayers Rock Resort. It was a Sails in the Desert Hotel Garden Walk. We met with the guide at the hotel and he showed us some native plants you could eat, as well as giving a little insight on how life was for the local Ananga people in the past. At 1600 we watched a display of local men dancing, they were under the tutelage of the guide we had earlier. This was quite humorous as they were all obviously very shy and appeared reluctant to perform. Leroy, the leader appeared to be part indigenous, the others very dark. It was good
Leroy got several of the onlookers involved
to see that the local people were more involved in activities at the resort, unlike when we were there previously. Apparently there are now over 270 indigenous employees.
After lunch, we took off to walk to the nearby Pioneer Hotel and Lodge where the Observatory was, as this offered activities every afternoon. As we left the camp we saw the local bus which does continual circuits of the resort, was just arriving so why walk, when we could ride? When we arrived at the observatory, we discovered a sign on it announcing that they had decided to close this afternoon so we were quite disappointed and after a wander around the bar area where we remembered eating on our last visit, we spent some time in the tourist shop before the bus again arrived. This time we set in another direction and soon found ourselves at the camel farm. Luckily, here, our driver decided to take a break so we had some time to explore the camel farm and novel bar before once again boarding the bus for the final circuit back to the camp ground.
After dinner the four of us went to a showing of the film “ The Martian” at the amphitheatre where a scientist who worked for NASA talked about how realistic or otherwise, the film was. It was an enjoyable evening, even with all the technical problems they had to run the movie. We had rugged up for the cold, but even then Rags was happy to get back to the van, just before midnight, to get the circulation in his hands and feet going.
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