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Published: December 23rd 2009
Sleeping in swags in the bright red soft dust at the Yulara campsite was definitely our most comfortable night so it seemed cruel that it was also our earliest morning. At 4am we woke up and blearily threw some clothes on, rolled up our swags and climbed into the bruck for the drive to the viewing platform between Uluru and Kata Tjuta. We arrived as the sky was starting to get light and grabbed a spot to watch the sunrise over Uluru on our right hand side and Kata Tjuta on our left.
Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas, is a group of 36 large dome shaped rocks about 25km from Uluru. Kata Tjuta, the Aboriginal name, means Many Heads and refers to the fact that the domes do look a little like a collection of heads rising out of the ground. The alternative name comes from Baron Ferdinand von Mueller who named the area after Queen Olga of Wurttemberg. The highest peak is actually 198m higher than Uluru and the site is also home to various ancient Aboriginal stories, some even more sacred than those surrounding Uluru. The viewing platform allowed us great views of both Kata Tjuta
and Uluru and as the sky continued to brighten it threw moving shadows over the many faces of Kata Tjuta and a pink haze hovered in the air. Finally, the sun peered over the horizon next to Uluru in a blazing ball of gold and rose slowly, looking like some sort of ancient god rising above the huge rock. In the glare of the very early morning sun Uluru appeared simply as a hulking black shape on the horizon but, further from the rising sun, Kata Tjuta came to life as the shadows shortened and the red domes became more defined and beautiful. We stood for around an hour watching the sun climb slowly higher before walking back down to the car park where Ian had prepared some breakfast. We ate hungrily while watching some cute little birds that were fanning their colourful tails at each other while cooing in what appeared to be a very egotistical mating ritual.
After breakfast we drove to the base of Kata Tjuta to start The Valley of the Winds walk. The path is 7.4km and snakes through the domes taking in a couple of lookout points along the way. Although the day
was only young it was already very hot and the rocky climb through the domes made us glad that we had brought a couple of water bottles each. The climb is actually closed after 11am on hot days to prevent heat exhaustion and we were glad that we had started well before that. Walking through the rocks was amazing, the scenery was spectacular and we kept an eye out for rock wallabies as we wound our way along the path. One of the lookout points provided one of the most beautiful view of our whole trip so far. Two of the rocks ahead of us framed the plains beyond and we got a real sense that the landscape has remained unchanged for millions of years. We really expected to see dinosaurs roaming in the bush and we sat here for ages staring out at the view.
The whole walk took us quite a few hours as we slowly picked our way through the rocks and admired the beauty of Kata Tjuta. Despite Uluru being more famous we both agreed that Kata Tjuta is far more attractive and also more fun to walk through. We even made up a creation
story of our own when we spotted one of the domes that had crevices and rain marks on it that painted the face of a grumpy old man.
After the walk we headed back to Yulara for lunch and a rest after the rather strenuous walk. In the afternoon some of the group headed back out to Uluru with Ian to complete the base walk that we didn't have time for the previous day but Amy and I, along with Giesla, Katya, Anna and Judith, stayed at Yulara and enjoyed a cooling dip in the swimming pool before showering and feeling nice and clean for the first time in days! We picked the rest of the group up from the Uluru walk and headed out on the road to find a camping spot for the evening, catching a cool view of the moon rising over the still steaming road on the way.
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