The Rock

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Where I stayed
Mt Connor Lookout

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Sunday, April 3, 2011

To avoid paying the extortionate prices of Yulara, the only place to stay actually next to Uluru, we decided to set up camp about 100km out in Curtain Springs. As one of the 'things to do' at Uluru is to watch sunrise over the rock we had to get up pretty early to make it there on time.  This did mean a little bit of night driving which can be dangerous around these parts but (un)fortunately we didn’t come across any big red kangaroos bouncing across the road and made it in one piece.  We were actually so efficient at getting up and off we arrived when it was still pitch black.  Seeing the rock looming in the distance in complete darkness was in fact a little eerie.  We got ourselves a spot away from the main viewing platform which was like a human pen, stuffed with people, and wrapped in a sleeping bag watched the sun rise over Uluru.  The effect the changing light has on the colour of the rock is amazing.

One of the benefits of having your ‘house’ with you is that you don’t have to go to a hotel or restaurant for food.  The car park completely cleared and by 7am there were only 3 campervans parked up with a spectacular view of Uluru still.  We made coffee and cereal and sat in a great breakfast spot!

Our first activity for the day was the Base Walk, which goes around the whole of Uluru.  It’s interesting purely to get a feel for the sheer size of the thing, which is huge!  Since the Aborigines have been given the land back and have a say over the treatment of the site as a tourist attraction there are areas that you can’t get close to and you aren’t supposed to photograph.  Obviously we walked past a few people taking photos, but we held back our disgust and just walked by shaking our heads fervently at them!  Although we weren’t keen on people’s blatant disrespect for another culture, Kevin did think it had gone a little too far when in the guide book, which is full of information on Aboriginal history and culture as it is, made the statement on the Geology page that ‘this is only a western view on how Uluru was formed, the traditional owners of the land have different beliefs’.  Kevin’s view was that this is how the rock was actually formed and should be given as much respect, alongside the beliefs of the locals.  Oh well, after the way they were treated by the Australians (British) I’m not sure he would win this argument. 

As another reminder of the size of this country we hadn’t realised how far apart Kata Tjuta and Uluru actually were. It’s a 70 km round trip between the two and in our rush to get in for sunrise we hadn’t realised we didn’t have enough petrol to make it! This meant we had to go back out the park to get fuel, another 40 km and the head to Kata Tjuta. Because of all this we were a bit short on time as we needed to get back to Uluru for sunset. We legged it around the loop walk and did the 3 hour walk in 2. We did get some amazing views. Kata Tjuta is like loads of smaller Ulurus all in a big group with valleys in between. At one point we walked through a gap between two of the huge domes and were greeted with a view like something out the land that time forgot. A hidden valley that you expected a dinosaurs head to lift out of the trees at any point. No dinos but we did see a couple of wild roos up close which was cool. My new favourite fact is actually about kangaroos. Apparently when hopping long distances, in order to save energy they actually stop breathing and let their bouncing stomach and intestines push the air in and out of their lungs!!

We raced back to Uluru for sunset  and were pleased to see that the crowds weren’t too bad and we could get a good spot to watch the rock slowly change colour as the sun went down. Although a long way from anywhere and hard to get to for both Aussies and tourists I would definitely recommend a trip to the red/green centre to anyone in Australia if they can.
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