Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Trip Start Jan 16, 2008
117Trip End Jul 28, 2008
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Sadly, far too many Australians and tourists alike, abuse Uluru as if it is just a natural wonder. It pains me to say it, but for once Germaine Greer was right when she compared climbing Uluru to behaving "as sacrilegiously as if you were to haul yourself up the some of St Peter's Basilica with alpenstock and crampons". With metal poles and chains drilled into the majestic red rock, the infamous "Climb" literally scars the landscape as self-interested individuals do themselves no favours in search of yet another holiday snap. The ultimate tragedy is that the National Park authorities put on a pathetic facade proclaiming the "special relationship" they have with the aboriginals (who incidentally are no where to be seen), but do not abolish the "Climb" through fear it will diminish the number of tourists and prevent them from receiving their bonuses to finance their gas-guzzling 4x4s.
Ok, rant over but it remains an issue that needs to be put to bed once and for all.
It is not until you embark on the breathtaking circumnavigation of Uluru that you truly appreciate its enormity and diverse structure. Its apparent regularity from a distance belies the trenches, gorges and geological abrasions that mark its surface each with a specific meaning to the Aboriginals and their interpretation of the rock's creation. As the sun rises and sets the changing colours of Uluru leave you marvelling at the beauty of nature.
Equally majestic were the mighty-domed rocks of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) 30km west of Uluru. The 7.5km Valley of the Winds trail was one of the most stunning tracks I have ever walked. Traversing through the gorge at 7.30 in the morning with the crisp air lingering in the shadows as the sounds of nature echoed around was one of the highlights of the entire trip. As two kangaroos emerged from the bush right on cue, the view from the Karlingana lookout with the sheer red rock climbing hundreds of metres on either side was utterly sensational.
To paraphrase a former colleague, Uluru-Kata Tjuta may just appear as a load of rocks, but there the most bloody impressive rocks I've ever seen!