Big Drive For A Rock
Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
144Trip End Oct 06, 2013
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Where I stayed
The initial viewing of Uluru is best done from a distance and at sunset when you'll see many of the various colour shades of the rock face in a relatively short period of time. Uluru is a sandstone inselberg, literally an "island mountain". An inselberg is a prominent isolated hill that rises abruptly from and is surrounded by extensive and relatively flat lowlands in a hot, dry region.
Our first dilemma was whether or not to climb the rock to get the sweeping views of the Outback. Apparently when the Aboriginals were given back the land which included Uluru, the transfer was done with the proviso that climbing would still be allowed
The sunrise saw us next to the lessor known Kata Tjuta, or Mount Olga which is actually a group of large domed rock formations that offer their own spectacular vistas. The 36 domes that make up Kata Tjuta cover an area of 8+ sq miles so we did a couple of the more challenging hikes and had a great time
Driving through this remote part of Australia was exhausting, in part, because of the need to scan the horizon looking for wandering critters (when you're clipping along at the legal limit of 130 km/hr, a kangaroo on the front grill is not an appealing option). Kangaroo's, wallabies, emu's were all part of my avoidance radar but wild camels? There were warning signs everywhere. Camels (and their drivers) were actually imported to support projects like the Overland Telegraph Line from Adelaide to Darwin and they proved to be the perfect transport solution for the Australian Outback of old. They can go without water for long stretches, eat 325 of the 350 plant species that grow in the Outback deserts, carry loads up to 600 kgs, and work from age 3 to age 40 (wow- maybe I should have hired camels instead of mules back in my working days... just wanted to see if Andres P really does read these blogs). Once they were no longer needed, large herds were released into the outback only to thrive and multiply to a population of about 1 million today (the authorities do this, but they confiscate my unopened bag of potato chips at the airport to maintain the purity of Oz??) and the damage they cause is substantive. The solution- camel burgers- I had a couple to support the cause and other than the spittle they were quite tasty.
One of those burgers was served up during our stay at Kings Creek Station which was memorable as a campsite & cattle station combination, but was made even more memorable when a busload of old dolls from the Australian Red Hat Society showed up and posed for pictures with us- they just didn't fit in the Aussie Outback! Our ultimate destination, Kings Canyon, really made the long drive worthwhile. The hiking loop of the Kings Canyon Rim Walk took us through Heart Attack Hill, the Garden of Eden, The Lost City (beehive domes), and a number of other rock formations that should have their own cute names.