UluruNovember 16, 2017 in Australia
Once you set foot in The Ayres Rock Resort and the environs of Uluru National Park, I think it fair to say that your feet will not touch the ground. Time is short and there is much to see, to the point of fitting in meals and a shower, becomes a feat of organisation. A great deal revolves around sunrise and sunset. I've always been a sunset person myself, early mornings being highly overrated I find. However, there is no avoiding an early start here - 4am pickups are de rigeur, which means rising at 3 and no breakfast. You call this a holiday! We did two sunset tours of Uluru and Kata Tjuta both of which were something of a damp squib as the cloud cover was too heavy to allow for the expected glorious sunset. In the case of both, thunder and lightening danced all around and the journey back from Kata Tjuta in particular was a tremendous electric light show, the like of which I have never seen or wish to again. It rained heavily overnight on both occasions and we were told today that we had been lucky, as the storms had dropped the normal daytime temperature from 40 to 30 degrees. I guess we are grateful!
I had heard about the majesty and almost mystical power of Uluru and was slightly doubtful if I'm honest. I take it all back. This heap of Arco Sandstone is mesmerising and somehow you cannot take your eyes off it. The actual rock is in fact grey, but over millions of years the high iron content has oxidised producing the rich rust red colour we see today. We started yesterday at the obligatory 4 am and were delivered to the sunrise viewing platform to take in this wonder of nature and the effect it has on Uluru. I was advised by a kind ranger to take a photo every 2mins and afterwards look back, when you would see the gradual change in colour and it worked like a charm. The sunrise was pretty good I reluctantly have to admit and effect on Uluru quite magical. The only downside is being surrounded by the general public. Fabulous people watching of course and I came to the conclusion that most of them are nuts. The advent of social media and the selfie stick has had a catastrophic affect on the so called brains of the young. Most appear not to be interested in taking in all that is around them and the fact that they may never have this opportunity again. They are far more concerned with the inevitable countless selfies of themselves, as grinning morons, in front of whatever natural phenomenon happens to be in sight, or ringing up their friends and acquaintances to tell them where they are, at full decibel, in a variety of languages. Picture this: three rather disastrously dressed young ladies from the Manchester area cavorting about next to us in such manner, when one says to the other as they walk away "do'y realise I've bin so caught up with thut rock I've only taken 15 selfies!" Not a word of a lie.
We moved on to drive around the base of Uluru and take various forays into and around the base of the rock. It is here particularly that it casts its spell. It's surface is smooth, but with varying erosion features set into its walls, that have become very much a part of the Aboriginal stories and culture. Sunset over the rock was, as I explained, not as normal. Thunder clouds backed it, lighting raged around and a double rainbow appeared over Uluru, so it may not have been a glorious sunset, but it was certainly spectacular. Whilst all this is going on, you are plied with wine, beer, or whatever your tipple may be, canapés appear and a general convivial atmosphere prevails. It becomes all the more convivial as time goes by, as some just do not know when to stop!
Kata Tjuta is completely different. The name in Aboriginal tongue means' many heads'. Their language only allows for counting up to three, so any more than three becomes multi. There are in fact 36 domes made up of a very different rock, called conglomerate, which is a rough mix of many types of rock held together by silts and sandstones. The surface is textured and rough and we took a walk up through Walpa Gorge, between two heads, to take a closer look. By now it is was about 7.30 in the morning and approaching 25 degrees. This is of course why so much is planned early or late in the day to avoid the extreme temperatures of midday. It was a terrific walk up and back through the Gorge, which I was really pleased to accomplish. Four years ago the knee would not have made it. The outside Aussie barbie, was rescheduled to inside the cultural centre and the study of the southern sky produced one lone star winking through the clouds. Oh well! Incidentally, the cultural centre is superbly done and a fascinating visit.
We are now on our way back to Alice Springs and I am catching up with the blog. More fantastic people watching. It is rare for Peter and I to be involved in an organised tour, usually preferring to do our own thing. Here though it has achieved maximum opportunity in a very short time frame, albeit on a punishing schedule, so mission accomplished. Why is it always that the Brits always look the worst. Most shouldn't be allowed out of the country without a makeover. The advent and rise of casual clothing is a total disaster for the men in particular, although I can't say that the ladies get off scot free. One dear soul is sporting a strappy sundress with a thick white vest/ liberty bodice covering her to the neck! The men are by and large wearing ill fitting and uncoordinating short outfits with brothel creeper sandals or walking boots and high multi coloured socks. Crushed sun hats are worn in or out and I suspect for some to bed! Mind blowing. A mirror would be good here. Most English men should be obliged to be booted and suited, as they seem incapable of coping with anything else. End of rant and end of journey! We are almost back in Alice Springs and tomorrow are heading back to Adelaide, by air this time. We'll catch up then.Read more