“Oh Wow!” Uluru- The Awesome Rock 14th-17th October
If you’re wondering what all the commotion is about, then the answer is emphatically YES Believe the hype!
Uluru (Ayers Rock ) is awesomely spectacular. NOTHING can prepare you for your first glimpse of this Gargantuan monolith- its colours, its orange-red hues, its grand size, its textures, and its presence, will bring tears to your eyes. Truly one of the world’s natural wonders. The power of this phenomenal rock will surprise you. Not even the bus tours, billions of tourists flashing fully automatic cameras and cries of “Oh Wow!” will detract from the uncanny aura the rock exudes.
Perhaps the most impressive view is actually 5 km’s from the rock base. It just looms up out of the flat desert taking your breath quite away. Of course, we were all three keen to climb. It is true that there is some literature from the Anangu people explaining their perspective on the traditional significance of Uluru; that they do not climb the rock, and asking you not to also. It seems that they are mostly concerned with people falling off as people do from time to time, but being young strong and healthy we felt that this was not going to be a problem
We set off on a crystal clear morning with coach loads of tourists. With a mere metal chain on the right-hand side and a vertical ascension of about 45 degrees, the climb is not for the faint-hearted.
It is a hard slog- probably the hardest we exerted ourselves on the whole trip. At least if you slip or collapse you’ll just roll straight back to the carpark. Having said that, it was amazing to see such a diverse assortment of people climbing it all the way
to the top. From five-year-old kids to eighty-year-old Grandparents can be found scrambling up and down.
Oh Yeah….the wind did pick up making, it the place NOT to chase your windborne lens cap. Having scrambled all the way to the top we decided to fossick around in its infinite ravines, gullies, paths and formations.
Five hours later we were running out of drinking water, which quickly heralded the arrival of our retreat back down the rock.
Once on safe ground again we decided to explore Uluru with an Aboriginal guide- the local Anangu people. We hoped to gain some insight and appreciation of their culture and law – “Tjukurpa”. The tour which consisted of only 6 people around the base of the rock was exceptionally interesting as it afforded us an insight into their traditional skills, such as making bush glue, starting a fire without matches, preparing traditional bush seeds and flours. It was comforting to see that here in the desert, many traditional aspects of the unique Aboriginal culture are still part of Anangu life today.
As the first raindrops of our trip began to fall on our heads (who would have thought that it was going to be in the central desert!) we headed over to the cultural centre. This is definitely a rewarding place to visit. For starters, its architecture is unlike anything else you’ve seen. As for the contents of the building you are pleasantly surprised to find an informative and fascinating collection of displays and artefacts depicting various aspects of Anangu life. Artworks, videos, soundscapes, and audiovisual installations all contributed to creating this dynamic experience albeit somewhat superficial. Most of these types of displays are designed to hold your attention for a specific time, and because most people watch too much TV their attention spans are very short – so accordingly, these displays can only give so much info. It’s an unfortunate situation.
Kata Tjuta (or The Olgas) are also within the National Park. They too are a magnificent sight to behold. The “many heads” as the words translate from the Aboriginal language are each and everyone well worth a look. The 36 huge domes are divided by slender chasms or broad valleys. Access to the maze of boulders is limited to two walks- the Valley of the Winds Walk and the Olga Gorge Walk. As the buses were flocking over the walks like bees to honey we can recommend to others to try reversing the trend of early morning and late afternoon to avoid the worst of the crowds. The heat and the tight schedules keep most of the tours away during the middle of the day and this magical place is greatly enhanced when experienced in partial solitude.
Final remarks on Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park would be, that this park is the most visited single site in Australia for a reason and one reason alone.
It has to be seen to be believed- it is wondrous.