Ayres Rock (Uluru), The Olgas (Kata Tjuta), Kings Canyon

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May 17th 2010
Published: May 17th 2010
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Coober PedyCoober PedyCoober Pedy

There is a town, but this is its best aspect!
There is only one photo of Coober Pedy as it was visually a pretty unremarkable town. We made a reasonably early exit from Coober Pedy and the kilometres rolled easily under the van as we headed for the Northern Territory and Uluru. Marg drove for a couple of hundred kms. before lunch and we finally got to the corner of the Stuart highway and Lassiter Highways. This is the location of Erldunda and the only habitation for 100’s of kms around. Erldunda is just a roadhouse that has caravan sites, camping sites and ‘motel’ accom - how lucky were we to have a caravan!! It was pretty busy in the caravan section as it is the place a lot of folk stop before doing the last 240kms into Yulara (village before Uluru) or conversely those who leave Yulara late and are heading up to the Alice or South to Coober Pedy.

I am forced to digress here for a moment and lodge an official complaint about the roadside rest areas in South Australia. The problem is not the number of them, nor is their presentation, the issue which I first noticed on our trip around the block in 2008 that
Uluru sunsetUluru sunsetUluru sunset

Well, there has to be at least one sunset shot!
only about 1% of them have toilets. Don’t South Australians defecate or their women need to urinate??? It seems that they do from the amount of used toilet paper littering every roadside stop we saw. It is just such a contrast in comparison to every other state and territory in the country. We did have to laugh when we reached the border with N.T to find a very impressive building (the only one for 100’s of kms, and right on the border) which showed that the Territorians understand the plight of the poor traveller - the best ablution block you could imagine. Or perhaps it was just our unbridled joy after hanging on for the last 7 days! Note that I am writing to Transport South Australia to express my displeasure - stay tuned for an interstate incident.

It’s Tuesday 11th May and we have arrived at Yulara. We spent the rest of the day getting familiar with the park and general house-keeping. Geoff noticed that the fridge in the back of the truck did not seem to be getting power when we were about to put it onto the mains power. Oh dear, what a tragic observation that
Sounds of Silence DinnerSounds of Silence DinnerSounds of Silence Dinner

In the middle of the desert, these two found a wonderful feast.
turned out to be. On lifting the bonnet to check the 30 amp fuse, he was confronted with 2 blacked wires and a pile of ash where the fuse should have been! Sadly he did not take a photo of it as I am sure it would have been interesting to some of our readers. Sadly Margaret did not take a photo of Geoff’s reaction when he saw said fuse ash. Luckily Yulara does have an auto repair facility and they were able to supply a replacement fuse (and integral holder). Geoff is putting the failure down to poor earthing of the plug in the tub causing far too high resistance in the circuit. Hope he is right. We walked up to the sunset viewing area that night at the park itself which is a fair distance from the rock. It wasn’t as spectacular as some of the photos show.

The next day we drove out to the rock and did a walk into a lovely waterhole at the base of Uluru, the cultural centre and then out to Kata Tjuta and did a walk up the gorge. This is not the Valley of the Winds walk which was
Uluru Mala walkUluru Mala walkUluru Mala walk

Margaret on the Mala
quite a lot longer and we were running out of time by then. We had a very special night booked that evening. The most expensive meal we have ever had - $309 for two at the Sounds of Silence dinner in the middle of the desert. We were collected by a large bus at 5.10 and driven a short distance into the desert. Upon arrival on the top of a sand dune we were handed a glass of champagne. Geoff proceeded to drink a few of them and Marg had to remind him of the last time he drank said bubbly at the Brooms one hot Mel borne Cup day. Fortunately for all of us the same thing did not happen. The canapés were crocodile tarts, smoked salmon things and kangaroo things. We both got brave and tasted them all. We watched the sun set on Uluru while having champagne, canapés and a performance of the didgeridoo. It turned quite dark quickly at the setting of the sun and we were led to tables which had been set with white tablecloths and candles with a fire place nearby. We were served slow roasted pumpkin soup (eat your heart out Rod
Another Uluru sunsetAnother Uluru sunsetAnother Uluru sunset

OK, I found a better shot ...
W) at the table and then called up by table number to select our food from the buffet. There was certainly a lot to choose from, including again crocodile Caesar salad, kangaroo steaks, chicken sausages, lamb cutlets, many other salads, hot potatoes and carrots. Once back at the table you had to guess what part of your meal you were eating, as there wasn’t enough light to see ones plate. We then had a talk about the stars in the southern sky which was most interesting. There were telescopes to look through if you so desired. Geoff saw Saturn’s rings! Dessert was once again full of yummy things to select from. Marg had the best bread and butter pudding she has had since her mum made it in Darwin.

We were seated with a talkative group of people and all got on well together. We had an older German couple who were doing 4 weeks in Australia as a reccie for their next trip in February 2011. They couldn’t believe how cold it was. We all had coats and fleecies on and needed them! The bus took us back to the campsite at about 9.30.

The next day
Kata Tjuta viewKata Tjuta viewKata Tjuta view

Kata Tjuta (formerly The Olgas) have may beautiful aspects
we were back to the rock and did a guided tour with a ranger, the Marla Walk. He talked about the aboriginal history and said that within the next 10 years the climb would be closed. While we were at Uluru the climb was closed due to the windy weather. Later on our last afternoon the climb opened, but Geoff had decided that it was too high for him due to his dislike of heights and Marg had made the decision not to anyway. Geoff however decided to do the base walk which was 10.6kms, but felt like 106 by the time he finished. By the end of the walk he was rooted and very glad it wasn’t any longer. Say no more.

We had a leisurely pack up in the morning and headed for Kings Canyon. On this part of the journey (Erldunda to Kings Canyon and beyond we kept coming across a strange tree that looked for all the world like “Cousin It”. On many occasions Cousin It seemed to be having a reunion with all ‘Its’ other cousins.

After we leaving Uluru we realised that we had intended to stay another day and had in
Kata TjutaKata TjutaKata Tjuta

Walpa Gorge (meaning windy gorge) and some spring water.
fact paid for another day. Have we mentioned the satellite television??? That b@#*&%!t(MISSING)hing hasn’t worked since Wilpena Pound. It’s anybody’s guess what is wrong, but we know it is going to cost money at Alice Springs. We are headed for Alice tomorrow.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


Kings CanyonKings Canyon
Kings Canyon

We only did the valley walk walk, but that was a beautiful experience.
"Cousin It" tree"Cousin It" tree
"Cousin It" tree

This one has run away from his other "Cousins"

17th May 2010

Crocodile Tarts?
Great job with the blog Geoff/ Margaret. The pictures are only outdone by the descriptions. Fascinating stuff although I would probably have difficulty with crocodile tarts and kangaroo "thinigs" but who knows. Sorry about the satellite dish remaining unoperational but the world news is nothing to cheer you up about. Maybe just as well......Enjoy safe travels.
17th May 2010

Hi Geoff and Marg - what a fantastic trip - you both look very relaxed with glass of wine in your hands and our supposed civilisation far away !! Keep the pics and updates coming and safe travels ............ where's all the animal life (or have you killed everything in your way and BBQ'd it ??) ha ha Eug x

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