Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon
36 days away
438 km / 272 miles since last post
7,600 km / 4,722 miles total
We started the day with a quick trip the resort shopping centre. It's quite an impressive centre, not very big, but catering for most needs. Stu managed to find a photography shop so he could stock up on lens tissues for his camera, and we also popped to the supermarket to stock up on food.
We then set off to Uluru (Ayres Rock) once again. We drove past the area we'd visited last night for sunset viewing, and continued along the road which took us right up to the rock. You could park your car just metres from the rock and take a walk all the way round. We didn't think a walk round the entire rock was necessary, and it would have taken some time anyway. But we took a wander around part of it, capturing some good shots with the camera. There is a sign here asking the public not to the climb Uluru, out of respect for the Anangu (the local Aboriginal people) who regard Uluru of great sacred importance. However, there is a marked track up the side of the rock and they tell you the best time to attempt climbing if you wish to do so. It seems a bit strange offering such conflicting advice, but I guess they accept that some people will just climb it anyway, and so want to make sure they are as safe as possible.
We even saw some of the Aboriginal rock art along one section. Luckily, Stu had the foresight yesterday to buy some fly nets to put over our heads. The experience of all the flies we had encountered at The Devils Marbles was something we didn't want to repeat. The nets came in so handy, as the place was teeming with flies. Quite of few other people had them too, and you had to feel sorry for those that didn't and spent the whole time swatting them out of their faces (I think we also felt a little smug too!). The rock itself is really impressive, and while it is much photographed, seeing it in the 'flesh' is a great experience and cannot be underestimated. The way it appears to glow with life in the sunshine is amazing.
After a reasonably leisurely walk, and many photographs later, we headed over to Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Kata Tjuta literally translates as 'many heads', and is an amazing sight consisting of 36 domes of rock. We parked up near the dune lookout, from which you can walk up to a long platform and take some great shots, still from a reasonable distance away. Then we drove closer to Kata Tjuta, heading to the Walpa Gorge. We took the 1.6km walk into the gorge, and once there the scenery was fantastic - the dramatic views of the domes on either side against the clear blue sky was really special. We drove around a little further after this walk to get some other perspectives of the domes, and then decided to head to the next destination.
From Yulara we had to backtrack a little on the Lassiter Highway to get up to Kings Canyon. Unfortunately, there is only one main highway down this way so backtracking is inevitable. By the time we arrived at Kings Canyon it was a little late in the day to be embarking upon anything too strenuous, so we decided the first thing to do once we'd got to the campsite was hit the bar. A couple of schooners later and we felt relaxed after another fairly long drive.
The pitch we have on the campsite is perfect as we have a direct view over to Kings Canyon - pretty impressive I have to say. After returning to the van after visiting the bar, we got back in perfect time for the sunset - and Stu managed to capture some great photos of the changing colours of the canyon rock. A few other campers had the same idea, one of them commenting to Stu that 'I'm really jealous of your body' (just to clear things up, he meant Stu's camera body!)
Once it gets dark the sky is truly amazing. With such little light pollution out here it offers an amazing night sky, the best we have ever seen. I have never been able to see so many stars so clearly, it's just fascinating to look at.