After Melbourne, Jeff and I headed to Alice Springs, to go and see the famous Uluru. I was really excited about this part of the trip because we were going into the outback, to see the big red rock thing featured in The Rescuer’s Down Under. We were told that the guided tours were pretty good, but their departure times are right before planes arrive in Alice Springs, and they end right after planes depart, so you have to add two days to your time in the middle of nowhere Australia. We decided to rent a car and go on our own self-guided tour.
While we were in town we purchased some snacks from a local grocery store, and we noticed how it was kind of unpleasant outside… the weather was scorching hot and there were flies constantly buzzing around us. We figured the flies must be the city though, and once we got out town it would be nicer. We headed out in our nice air conditioned car for the 450 km drive to Uluru.
|We saw a lot of this.|
We stopped at a small… uhm… town, on the way for a bathroom break and gas fill up and soon realized that the flies were actually going to be a constant issue. You are actually swarmed by 10-15 flies all trying to land on your face, constantly, causing you to wave your arms about you as you move around outside. At this reststop we made the best purchase we had the whole trip and bought fly masks, which we donned whenever leaving the car for the rest of the outback trip. Jeff also learned that the red sand was very very hot and that it would not be like normal sand that you can twist your feet down into the cooler, lower sand. Attempting to do so could resist in burning your feet.
|Mr Emu just ate the flies.|
After over three hours of driving, we finally arrived in Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park, and got to feast our eyes on this bad boy.
Uluru (Ooo-la-rue) is a big ol’ rock located in a big landscape of flat. It is a sacred site for the local aboriginal tribes and is also called Ayer’s Rock. The site is a part of the aboriginal mythology and is sacred place for rituals. It is claimed to be the largest monolith, but apparently some geologist seem to be unhappy with that term. It is said to change colors throughout the day, and throughout the year.
We decided to go on a 10km hike around the base of Uluru, mostly by our selfs, but occasionally running into tour groups along the way. We of course were wearing our fly masks, but to give you an idea of how many flies are buzzing around, the entire 10km hike, here are some photos of our backs.
When we did bump into tour groups, we learned some really interesting stuff about the rock. Like that in some places, the rainwater has gotten into the rock, making it hollow underneath in places.
And that the aboriginals would draw on the walls to tell stories, but also to indicate which kind of animal fat was being stored in small holes in the rock, and other domestic things like that.
We found one part of the rock that looks like General Akbar.
We found watering holes that collected from the rain that drips down Uluru, small pockets of jungles scattered along the base of the rock.
And Jeff discovered his talent for tree imitation.
At the end of the hike the weather was starting to make a turn for the worst, which luckily meant less flies! We got into the car and headed out to the hotel area, planning to come back in the morning for the changing colors of Uluru and to maybe climb to the top.
Visitors can climb up to the top of Uluru, but the aboriginal people do not like it. Uluru is a sacred spiritual place and the climb damages the rock on the path up to the top, and once up there people apparently use the top as a bathroom and have done other disrespectful activities. The trail is closed on days were the top has high wind, and since they’ve started recording them, there have been 35 deaths in the hike to the top of Uluru.
As we headed out, we found a nice photo spot, and a nice german tourist helped take a photo for us.
We headed towards the hotel were we soon discovered that the fancy pants hotel cost about $250 a night and that the hostel-like hotel cost about $150 for a shared room. After a thoughtful discussion Jeff and I decided to just sleep in the car. We put the seats down, laid all of our clothes down for padding, and listened to the rain on our roof just as we closed the doors to go to bed.
We woke up before sunrise the next morning to go to Uluru to see the sun change the color of the rock. Unfortunately, there were still clouds covering the sky, so while the sun did peak out from them, they made for a gradual increase in light as opposed to a sharp and sudden change. The rock did have a nice photogenic quality to it anyway though. We couldn’t climb up to the top because of high winds.
After the sunrise we drove 25km to Kata Tjuta, also called the Olgas. These next three places we saw in only 2 and a half days, but they seemed to take so long because everyday was filled with things you can only see in Australia. It is amazing and beautiful stuff. We may of not been able to learn as much as we could of if we went on the guided tour, but we still learned enough to know we were in a really special place.