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Highlights of Uluru (Ayers Rock)

March 10, after taking off from Kangaroo Island our Emu pilot announced that she was not pleased with the sound of the engine so we quickly returned to land and switched planes. (I was not looking forward to a water landing off the coast of Australia.) Drew met our delayed flight and whisked us off to the Adelaide airport.  Our flights from Adelaide to Alice Springs and then on to Ayers Rock were quite a contrast. We had reentered civilization and tour groups surrounded us. Also the landscape had changed significantly, we were now in my type of country - desert.  

The OlgasDesert Plants

We were met at the airport by the Uluru Experience Company and were taken to the Outback Pioneer Lodge.  All the accommodations for the park are consolidated into a service village known as Yulara.  Here there are a variety of hotels, camping facilities as well as restaurants, stores, bank, post office and shops. 


Jon and Care at Kata TjutaKata Tjuta Gorge Entrance

 

 

 

 


Situated in the Northern Territory and the heart of Australia, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, whose land is owned by the Anangu (local Aboriginal) people, leased to the government and operated by a board consisting of aboriginals, naturalists and representatives of the Australian government is Australia's natural wonder. After dumping our bags, we took off for an afternoon tour of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas).  The Kata Tjuta monoliths are west of Uluru, smaller than Uluru and consist of "many heads".  It was a cloudless blue sky day perfect for hiking into the Olga Gorge.


Trail Head at Olga GorgeOlga Gorge Trail

That evening we had the 'Sounds of Silence' dinner in the desert. We watched a colorful sunset while listening to dijeridus music,  munching on hors d'oeuvres and sipping a glass of wine.  As the sun set we were treated to a great dinner of emu, racoon, kangaroo, etc and later a star lecture emphasizing the orientation of the southern hemisphere skies. 

Uluru SunsetJon with Uluru in the background


The desert's most spectacular moments are sunset and sunrise.  We went to bed early so that we would be able get up and see the sunrise at Uluru, a most sacred place for the Anangu people.  The solitary rock is 348m tall and is believed that 2/3 of the Rock remains beneath the surface.  We did a 6 mile, 3 hour base walk around Uluru accompanied by a guide, Steve, from Uluru Experience.  Steve provided the cultural context and significance of the different areas around the base of the Rock.  The Aboriginal people use stories to express their historical memories and Uluru has many events and stories attributed to it.


Early morning at the RockThe Brain



The spaces created by the Rock and the interplay of light was amazing. Although there is an area in which tourists are allowed to climb up the Rock (chain handrail), it is said that the people do not wish such activity since the Rock is a sacred place.  Also sacred areas are now either off-limits or can not be photographed which was not the case ten years ago.
Chain Rail on UluruInterior space around Uluru base








After lunch we were glad to escape the touristy atmosphere of Uluru and fly out to Alice Springs for several days on a cattle ranch, Deep Well, adjacent to the MacDonnell Ranges.    

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