Last week we left Coober Pedy and travelled 735kms to Yulara, here there was a small community which had a resort/ campground, restaurants and shops to accommodate everyone who travels across the country and world to see beautiful Uluru. The world Heritage listed Uluru is one of Australia’s most iconic symbols of the outback. Situated in the red centre in the heart of the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. Uluru is so much more than a rock, it is a sacred place to the traditional owners, The Anangu indigenous cultures which is one of the oldest cultures known to man dating back to 60,000 years ago.
In early 1900’s the Australian government declared ownership of the land and by the 1930s it was open to visitors, the first tourist visited Uluru in 1936, in the 1950’s the tourism had flourished with many travelling to the region. It wasn’t until 1985 the land was returned to the traditional owners by prime minister Bob Hawke. The agreement required the traditional land owners to lease the land to the national park and wild life services for 99 years. Today both parties work together to maintain and care for this incredible place.
The name Ayers rock comes from the first European to climb Uluru, William Christie Gosse named the rock after Sir Henry Ayers who later became the premier for South Australia. Looking at the rock from a distance you can notice white marks/ ruins on the rock from where people have climbed it over the years. It is not prohibited to climb the rock these days however the traditional owners do ask you to please respect them by not climbing it.
It is estimated that Uluru is the tip of a huge slab of rock that continues below the ground for possibly 5-6 kilometres. Uluru is 3.6km long, 348m at its tallest point making it 24m higher than the Eiffel tower.
We spent 3 nights here and we wouldn’t miss a sunrise or sunset at the rock. Every sunset and sunrise was a different view and colour. Every sunset we enjoyed wine, beer and cheese and sunrises we ate our breakfast before a day filled of walking. Our first day we walked the 10.6km round loop around the whole rock which took us about 2 ½ hours, it was long but very easy walk. After this we visited the Culture Centre, where we gained a greater understanding of the Anangu culture.
Our second day we went to the Kata Tjuta also known as the Olgas. Kata Tjuta is the aboriginal name meaning many heads. I found this just as incredible as Uluru itself. We completed the full circuit of 7.4km “Valley of the winds” walk in 2 ½ hours. This walk was steep, rocky and challenging compared to the walk around Uluru.
It’s believed this area 400million years ago was windswept with sand dunes. Over time, under all the weight, compressing and compacting the silica rich water and sand gradually has cemented the grains together that has formed into this.
Our last night we took the opportunity to go on the field of lights tour ($35 each)
The Field of Lights is art piece designed by Bruce Munro consisting of 50,000 hand crafted, solar powered light stems. Covering an area of 49,000 square metres (equivalent to nearly 7 football fields). The photos for this does not do it justice but it was incredible in real life.
We left Uluru for King Canyon where we stayed one night. Here we completed the 6km Rim walk which begins with a 500 step climb to the top, it was worth it when reaching the top to have breathtaking views of the Watarrka National park, then into the canyon and descending to an oasis in the dessert “Garden of Eden”. After stopping at the oasis for a while this walk took us about 3 hours. We watched the ever changing colours of the canyon as the sun set.
The next morning, we woke early to visit Kathleen springs. Back in 1986 this was a working cattle yard where aboriginal men worked as stockmen. Being a natural watering hole cattle would be lead to the water where they would then be trapped between behind a fence and the narrow gorge.
From Kathleen Springs, we left for Alice Springs. Here we are staying out the back of a Pub for $11 a night with toilets and showers. After a good night’s sleep, we spent our first day in Alice exploring the MacDonnell National Park.
Leaving home at 9am our first stop was Simpsons Gap followed by Ellery Creek Big hole, Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge and finally Red Bank Gorge. Spending our day swimming in the freezing fresh water and exploring the gorges the time had reached 530pm and we were 158km away from Alice Springs. After arriving back in Alice, we enjoyed our $10 roast at the pub in front of or accommodation.
We are loving every moment in the desert and have has so much fun exploring new places and learning something new every day.
Read next week to see what we get up to in the rest of our time in Alice and as we head back down the coast to Port Augusta.