Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Day 42 - 24th May

Alice Springs to Yulara (almost)

Distance Travelled - 464.7 km

Woke up, enjoying the feeling of a sleep in and got up at 8 am. The caravan park puts on a free pancake breakfast on Sunday mornings so after packing away everything except the electrical stuff I went over and had a couple of pancakes. The internet time I had bought last night was useless as the server kept cutting out so after an hour I had achieved absolutely nothing. When I explained this at reception they said it happens occasionally and quite happily refunded my internet money.

Left the caravan park and went back into town to use the free wi-fi in the town mall and discovered that the local Steiner School was having their Autumn Fair today. Spent some time wandering through the mall looking at a variety of stalls and then posted the blog. Left town and headed out towards Uluru.

The drive is all on bitumen with the turnoff at Erldunda where I topped up with fuel - although it is $1.80 here people I had spoken to earlier in the week said it had been up to $2.27 at King's Canyon and Uluru. On the way to Erldunda managed to snap a few shots of an eagle on the barely recognisable remains of a kangaroo on the highway. Unfortunately, as I was starting to close in, a car came rushing through and scared him off. I waited some time, sitting on the side of the road in hopes he might come back but I was probably a little too close and he stayed perched in a tree for some time before flying off.

On the way towards Uluru I was amazed at the sight of Mount Connor and stopped to admire that for a while. Drove through to within about 50 km of the resort (the only camping place allowed at Uluru)and pulled up at the last of the free roadside camping bays. Set up and cooked tea, looking at a bleak and overcast sky. Shortly after tea a few drops of rain fell so I called it an early night and climbed into the tent to spend some time reading and listening to music before going to sleep.
                                                 They don't seem that afraid of cars

                                                                         Getting closer
                                                 Getting closer, just before he flew away

                                                       Mt Connor on the way to Uluru

Day 43 - 25th May

Arrival at Uluru

Distance Travelled - 156.3 km

Woke up at 5 am to the sound of rain gently hitting the fly of the tent. Fell asleep again and woke again at 5.30, 6.15 and 6.45 before eventually getting out of bed at 7.30 am, not being able to remain laying down any longer. The rain was still falling, not particularly heavy but enough to be annoying when trying to pack up and keep things dry. Eventually got packed away and headed into the very Touristy Uluru Resort. Was given a powered campsite that has not been well thought out. The single power outlet pole is at least 20m from the closest spot you can park your car making it difficult to plug your fridge in. After several consultations with the reception staff they eventually agreed to store my frozen stuff in their freezer as I couldn't access the power.

Went for a drive to the Rock and was truly amazed at it's size and majesty. Spent a bit of time exploring around, looking for potential places to take photos and then went back to set up camp, taking a few shots on the way. Spent the rest of the day at camp, sorting a few things out, visiting the local Fire and Rescue station and appreciating a cool and very cloudy day.
                                                                 The first shot of Uluru

                                                   One of the many dead trees in the park

Day 44 - 26th May


Distance Travelled - 108 km

WOke up early and drove out towards the rock for sunrise photos. Was joined by about 200 others in what can only be described as an Anzac Dawn Service mood - sombrer, expectant, emotional, sacred - people barely whispering, standing silently as sentinels ot the new day. The occasional click of cameras could be heard and that was about it.

Surprisingly, within no more than about 10 minutes after sunrise I was the only one left at the viewing platform as everyone else seemed to rush off and go about their daily program. I spent about another half hour watching the sun rise higher and enjoying the serentiy of the location.

After leaving the sunrise viewing area I headed to the rock itself to do the base walk - a 10.6 km walk around the entirity of the rock, allowing you a close up persepective of the formation and an opportunity to see some of the amazing effects erosion has had on the rock. The walk took about 2 and a quarter hours and was thoroughly enjoyable. I visited teh cultural centre for a while before heading back to the sunrise platform for some more photos and then back to the campsite for lunch.

Had a shower and then spent time chatting to Brian and Vanessa, a couple from NSW camping just near me in the tent gorund. After chatting for a while we got ready to head out to the sunset viewing area despite the fairly cloudy and overcast conditions. We decided it was either going to make it fantastic or a flop. The place was absolutely packed with people all abuzz with expectation. Whilst not spectacular, it was certainly pleasant and I stayed until I only had enough time to drive out before the park is closed at night. Whilst the last shots didn't turn out as I wanted maybe tomorrow will bring a better sunset and evening sky.

Got back to camp about 7.45 pm, cooked some tea and got ready ofr bed. Tomorrow I will be at the Olga's for sunrise - about 50 km from the campground.
                                                 Panoramic of Uluru from the base walk

                                          Aboriginal drawings in one of the caves in Uluru

                                                     The effects of erosion on the rock

 Weird and wonderful rock formations making part of the overall rock

                                                                   Uluru at sunrise

                                                                    Uluru at sunset

                                                                     Uluru at sunset
                                                                     Uluru at sunset
Day 45 - 27th May


Distance Travelled - 169.3 km

Woke up and left by 5.30 am and started the slightly late starting trip to the Olga's. Fortunately the viewing platform is about 3/4 of the way to the Olga's so I was able to make up for my late start. Once again a very cloudy and overcast morning led to a less than ideal sunrise but it was still nice to be there and see it happen. There was a different mood here today, less people, slightly more chatting and the emotional atmosphere was not as intense. One thing that was the same though was the speed in which the platform was vacated almost s soon as the sun was up. Once again, I was the last to leave.

Drove the rest of the way to the Olga's and did the Walpa Gorge walk - 2.6 km in fairly easy conditions - and spent 20 or so minutes just laying down and taking in the silence (absence of human noise) and listening to the sounds of the bush - birds, crickets, frogs, wind, leaves rustling.

After walking out went to the Olga's proper - very inspiring. The highest point is actually several hundred feet taller than Uluru and the Olga's is made up of 35 individual domes hence where the Aboriginal name of Kata Tjuta comes from - Kata = many, Tjuta = heads.

I did the Valley of the Winds walk - 7.4 km in what they call difficult conditions - grade 4 walk level. There were a few steep sections and a few places where you had to scramble over rocks but on the whole I did not think it was too bad. They say to allocate 4 hrs to do the walk and I was back in just over 2 so it can't be too bad. There were some spectacular views and taking photos did not really do justice to the height, colour or texture of the domes.

After the walk I went back to the Uluru sunset viewing section and took some post midday photos before heading back to camp for a 2 pm lunch. Had a shower and then downloaded and sorted photos before getting ready to head back to the sunset area for another attempt at sunset over Uluru photos.

Very few people out there today and with very overcast conditions and the rain threatening to fall I guess people decided it would be a non event. I set up and took a few shots and again waited as long as I could before leaving at closing time. Don't think there was too many good shots tonight. Came back to camp with rain falling, had teas and went to bed rather tired.

Tomorrow I will pack up camp and head to King's Canyon and spend the day there before heading back towards Alice on Friday.
                                                                   Olga's at sunrise
                                                                   Olga base walk

                                                                Uluru afternoon shot

                                                                       Nearly home?

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