Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park

Trip Start Jan 17, 2007
Trip End Jul 20, 2007

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Uluru is the aboriginal and official name for what some of you will remember as Ayers rock. Kata-Tjuta is the respectful and now most common name for the Olgas. Both Uluru and Kata-Tjuta are world heritage sites, both are in the top 20 geological marvels of the world and Uluru is one of the 7 wonders of the world. These impressive creditentials make the Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park an incredible place to visit.

Because the Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park is home to its Aboriginal owners, all visitors and non-aboriginal people are only allowed into the park an hour before sunrise until an hour after sunset. About 20km from Uluru and 50km from Kata-Tjuta is Yulara and the Ayers Rock Resort which was to be our home for the next few nights. After getting set up at our campsite we headed off into the park in time to see the sun set over Uluru.

The sky was amazing because a storm was coming in fast; the photos make it look a bit dull but it certainly wasn't. The clouds were heavy, a spectrum from purple through to charcoal and charged with electricity. The rainbow in the sky completed our magical first encounter with this imposing wonder. Just after sunset the clouds broke and we enjoyed sitting in the van, warm and dry as the most impressive electrical storm we have ever seen played out in the sky above us. Safely back at the campsite we ahd tea and watched forked lightening and heard the thunder crash as we tried to sleep.

The next morning we went into the park in time for sunrise and had breakfast watching Uluru change colour as the sun came up. Because of the storm, it was a very cloudy and overcast day so a disappointing sunrise, but excellent conditions for a day's hiking and exploring the park. We took full advantage of the cooler weather and headed off to Kata-Tjuta and embarked on the Valley of the Winds walk. The steep path took us up into the centre of the rock formation, in between the huge domes and out into the valley below. There were very few other people there so it was fantastic to enjoy the solitude in such amazing surroundings.

After lunch we headed back towards Uluru for the second hike of the day. Luckily it was still overcast but the black flies that are so prevalent around Uluru over the summer months were still out in force and we got good use out of our new fly nets!

Because of the wind, the Uluru climb was closed but we hadn't wanted to do it anyway because the Anangu people, the aboriginal owners, repeatedly ask you not to. Uluru has important spiritual significance to the Anangu who even prohibit you from taking photos of certain parts of the rock. As visitors in their homeland it would be disrespectful to purposefully go against their wishes.

The 9.4km base walk around Uluru gives a good insight into some of the beliefs and traditions of the Anangu people. There is significance to every different cave, crack and slope of the rock and there are many ancient aboriginal paintings etched into the walls. We were amazed by how many huge caves there are around the base and how varied the rock is in different places. As we walked around the base we were mesmerized by its changing landscape and colour, we could have spent hours there. It is easy to understand why Uluru is so special to a people who live in such a flat, arid expanse. Deep in the caves of Uluru there are springs which provide drinking water and the caves are a natural animal trap which make life easy for Anangu hunters. The caves also provide shelter and shade from the extreme weather conditions and many trees and plants thrive around its base. Near Uluru there is a very good cultural centre that is full of information about the park, its native people and their ways of life.

After 11 miles of walking we were ready to sit down and were treated to a glorious sunset as we had our tea in the van. It's an amazing experience to watch the rock change colour and they are even more pronounced than at sunrise.

Being in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from any town, the night sky is amazing. We've never seen such clear stars and it was the perfect end to a brilliant day.

The next morning we awoke to a very clear sky and headed back off into the park for sunrise. Another great experience and even better than the day before; a fantastic end to our time at Uluru and a good start to our long journey back to the east coast.

Lots of love

Jilly and Laurie xx
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