Uluru Base Camp: All Aussie Adventures
Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
235Trip End Nov 30, 2009
Show trip route
First stop was Stuart's Well for a camel ride and a nourishing egg and bacon sandwich washed down with mud-flavoured coffee. The worst coffee of my life didn't dampen the spirits of the kamakaze Japanese riders, nor us spectators in the light morning drizzle. Very amusing. Erldanda (with the dubious distinction of being geographically dead centre of Australia) and Curtin Creek (beyond impressive Mt Connor) soon followed. All this time Chris, our typically Aussie guide (think a competent Russell Coight), regaled us with facts about camels (there are over 500,000 running wild in Australia, they can carry 500kg and only need water every 12-14 days) and road trains (can measure up to 55 metres in length).
By lunch we'd hit the Yulara Resort at the base of Uluru and our first stop would be Kata Tjuta, also known in white mans speak as The Olgas. I never realised these we just down the road from Uluru so our hike through them was a pleasant surprise. Conditions were chilly and windy but the sun was finally shining and it was great to be out in this ancient landscape. We took the walk through the Valley of the Whispering Winds to a lookout halfway down the track. Magnifique!
Afternoon tea was at the lookout (ie. me looking goofy in accompanying pic). Time was a wasting however so we trekked back to the bus in order to catch sunset over Uluru. Forming a pattern of determination and efficiency that would categorise our team for the rest of the tour, the group made it with time to spare so we managed to organise some frosty beers for the viewing as well.
The colours were amazing and everyone was blown away by the show. Pics below illustrate the changing faces of the rock in this short period of time over sunset.
I was also amazed by the determination and sense of achievement a lot of our group (all foreigners except me, including Poms, French, Dutch, Poles, Swedes and Japanese) felt at actually witnessing Uluru in all its glory. It seems that many of them had been planning this trip for a long time and the importance attached to it is far greater than many Aussies do. Tourism Australia must be working well in foreign markets.
As we were looking at the big rock at nightfall we had to make camp in the dark. The campsite had all the mod cons however so the three chefs in our group had quickly whipped up a keen stir-fry to celebrate a successful first day. Then all that was left to do was to keep the fire roaring, sink a couple of coldies and to roll out the swags for a night sleeping rough under the stars...
Despite the picture quality and the winter temperatures there is a lot to be said for sleeping out under the stars. The softies that slept in tents actually had a colder night and less sleep somehow, and the tough guys like moi who braved the 3-5 degree (C) temperature on the whole slept well and were treated to a million star show that changed throughout the night. The only drawback was the condensation that built up between the sleeping bag and the swag by morning, so the sleeping bag requires drying before packing up and heading off. As long as some wood is kept for the morning fire this is possible and even if it isn't I'd highly recommend a sleep out anyway.
Next morning we got up close and personal with this megalith by hiking around the base of it. Some of us were keen to climb the rock but high and gusting winds put paid to that idea. So we set off on the 9.5 km hike in a pale dawn light and biting crosswind that had many campers rueing the fact they did not bring more protective clothing. I was one of them, but basically we survived and saw Uluru from a vastly different angle.
After the early morning rock hike we hauled ass to Kings Canyon, a mere 4.5 hours away. En route we stopped for a quick pic break at Mt Connor, another unusual and magnificent formation that gets no airplay beside Uluru and Kata Tjuta, so here it is to give it a little exposure.
Anyway, it has been a long couple of days so might wind it up here. We'll be trekkin the Canyon tomorrow so will write a separate entry for it and tour completion.
Where I stayed