Big Drive For A Rock

Trip Start Aug 06, 2011
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Trip End Oct 06, 2013


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Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Over the past few weeks we've seen pancake rocks, split rocks, rocks shaped like marbles, steaming rocks, and even a few rock-heads, but the mother of all rocks has to be Ayers Rock or Uluru (both names are still officially used). Rising up in the middle of the Outback plains, this iconic symbol of Australia is a bucket list item, so much so that DH is back for a second visit.

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. Although this has been honoured, it runs contrary to the Aboriginal view of Uluru as a sacred cultural sight and there are numerous no climbing 'requests' posted around the site and in literature. As we watched, we were surprised by the number of people who chose to climb including some guy in a dress wearing flashing Mickey Mouse ears (poster child for disrespectful?). But DH was also pretty adamant that we not climb but when she was last here, before the Aboriginal requests, she had climbed it with a 'special' bus driver friend , and I think she was looking to preserve those memories. Far be it for me to crowd any romantic Aussie dude memories so we decided to walk the 13kms around the rock instead. Up close the Rock offers up much different views and perspectives then you see from a distance (and apparently 13 kms is just long enough for DH to start and finish a BFF conversation- at what point on this trip did I become a BFF??). This walk was also our first long term exposure to what has to be one of the most irritating critters on earth- the bush fly that goes for your eyes, nose, and ears- it almost made you envy those goofy looking types that had the souvenir hat with the attached mosquito netting.

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. Far too soon it was time for another long drive to get to Kings Canyon.
 
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.

 

 
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Comments

Carol on

Love the photos, certainly brings back some great memories! I'm really gled you didn't climb Uluru! It is so important to the Aboriginal people. And I don't know how the two of you walked the base without a net hat! You would have been going mental by the end..those flies can be murder!

Elaine & Doug on

"some guy in a dress wearing flashing Micky Mouse ears" and then a gaggle of Red Hat Society ladies! Are you sure that you didn't take a wrong turn somewhere, and ended up in San Francisco?

Doe on

Glad to see the pictures, it is too bad you didn't get to the top while your were
there, oh well, maybe another time.

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