Uluru Ayers Rock And Kata Tjuta

Jan Leeming

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.

 

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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

ULURU/AYERS ROCK and KATA TJUTA

Date: 5th January 2016

ULURU- AYERS ROCK and KATA TJUTA

For my Birthday Jonathan and I were going to make a trip to Tasmania but when we saw the weather forecast - rain, rain, and more rain of which I get more than enough in the UK - we changed plans and decided to go to Uluru for a couple of days.

I'm so glad we made that decision for it was a wonderful Birthday treat - absolutely everything about the trip was excellent from the delightful staff at Sails in the Desert through to the fantastic trips to Uluru and also Kata Tjuta. Fortunately some old friends from the UK, who now live in Sydney, suggested that if we did make the trip we must also visit Kata Tjuta which is equally exciting and is completely different from Uluru. Rather like my wondering whether the Taj Mahal would live up to expectations, I found myself asking whether a large outcrop of Red Rock could evoke any passion.

To the Aborgines both Uluru and Kata Tjuta are sacred places and it is with their permission that we are allowed to visit. Although people do climb Uluru, the Guardians ask us politely not to do so and plans are underway to prohibit the climb which has claimed the lives of over 40 people and hundreds have been injured. Climbing Kata Tjuta was stopped a long time ago and it is right and proper that this also happens at Uluru.

We had a 3 hour flight from Sydney to Ayers Rock landing strip and a short coach ride to the Ayers Rock Resort which encompasses some hotels and accommodation for backpackers. Jonathan booked us into Sails in the Desert and I don't think I've ever come across such a welcoming staff right across the board. Erin, who we found out was just about to quit the resort after 3 years, looked after us superbly. Nothing was too much trouble for her and she managed to squeeze in the 3 main tours for us even though we'd done no pre-booking - Sunrise at Uluru - an afternoon trek to Kata Tjuta and Dinner under the Stars. It was a full-on day and necessitated getting up at 4.00 am but somehow rising early when it is warm is almost a pleasure - unlike the UK where waking up in the dark really depresses me.

We were a small group and our guide was a 'soon to retire for the second time' lovely guy called 'Bruce'. He was very knowledgeable and obviously loved his subject. Having driven for about a half hour we stopped at a viewpoint for a drink and some banana cake as we watched the sun rise on Uluru. Because of the shifting of the tectonic plates and the fact that the strata at Uluru is almost vertical - one end of it is 50million years older than the other!!! We drove all round the Rock and stopped again for Bruce to take us to a cave with very very old Aboriginal paintings and on to a Waterhole which was the place from which the Rock gets its name. At the caves I was upset to hear that the early travellers, to get better photos of the rock paintings, threw water on them to enhance the colour. Therefore to the left of the cave wall there's a blurred 'empty' space! When the Aborigines were asked if they would/could replace them they politely and correctly declined. There was no point in replacing them because those stories had been told, were from the past and were now gone.

We returned to the Hotel for a proper breakfast and then had some time to relax before our next expedition which was a drive to Kata Tjuta and a 2.5 kilometre walk up to the Gorge. Kata Tjuta is formed from entirely different strata and comprises a range of 'mountains' . On the drive our guide Ronald from Chile announced that he had been advised by the Park Rangers that we should halve our walk because of the temperature - it was so hot that I sighed with relief as the track was in the open scorching sun and not in, as I had imagined, a cool tree lined gorge. We'd been advised to wear walking shoes, bring a litre of water and also a fly net. The latter look rather like the coverings worn by bee keepers and believe me they are necessary. The image of the Aussie with a hat dripping corks is actually an accurate one. The local shop sold the fly nets and also the hats with corks hanging off threads.

Our guide was very knowledgeable and, when we arrived at our destination, he drew in the sand a diagram explaining how Kata Tjuta had been formed. I really couldn't do justice if I attempted to share with you his explanation but if you are interested you couldn't do better than to look up both Kata Tjuta and Uluru on Wikipedia. Even though the walk was shortened, the heat was so intense I was very grateful to get back into the air conditioned people carrier.

On the return journey Ronald explained that in the old days the road between KT and Uluru was a straight track. When the land was given back to the Aborigines and the National Park developed for tourism the new tarmac road was built with many curves so that the visitor can never see both of the 'Rocks' at the same time. To the indigenous people Uluru and KT are sacred and by looking at both together you take away some of their spirit.

On returnig  to The Sails we had a very quick turn around before going off on the 'Sounds of Silence' dinner under the stars. We were driven into the Bush and, after a short walk, reached a lookout spot from where we could watch the Sunset - glass of sparkling wine in hand! Then we walked to the dining area where the tables were laid with white table cloths and linen napkins and all this in the middle of the desert. There should have been some Aboriginal dancing but there was an initiation ceremony for the young men and the dancers were replaced by an Aussie playing a Didgeridoo.

The Buffet offered many Bush tucker dishes of kangaroo, emu and other bush meat. I'm not a great meat eater and am one of these silly people who can't bear to think of animals being killed to feed us. Fortunately there was a Barramundi alternative and finding out that the Chef was called Ajay I asked him from where he came in India. He was from the Punjab which I am told is the state with the very best of Indian food. I told him I'd recently been filming in India and had spent 3 weeks eating Indian Vegetarian so he offered me chick pea curry - delicious. There were many interesting desserts and the wine flowed freely.

After dinner, the lamps were taken from the tables and as our eyes became accustomed to the dark we gazed at the most wonderful night sky. We were given a superbly interesting talk about the Galaxies and Constellations and the speaker had brought along a huge telescope which we were free to peer through after dinner.

On our walk to the venue I noticed there were no lamps for our return walk and wondered how we would fare in the dark and in the bush. I needn't have worried because there was another road and the coach for our homeward journey came almost to the dining site. We packed so much into that one day and though we'd been on the go since the early hours, Jonathan suggested that we got up early again the next day so that we could see the sunrise. It really is no hardship to get up in the warmth and the light - so we did it, had an early breakfast and then a few hours relaxation by the pool before the journey back to Sydney.

It is only when you take a trip like this one that you realise how massive is the Continent of Australia. You fly for hours and are still IN Australia. To go from the East to the West of Australia is a flight time of around 5 hours and there is a time difference as well - on the same continent. I have to admit that our trip to Uluru/ Ayers Rock has awoken a desire to find out more about the Aboriginal Culture.

I really will have to have a word with my website designers - I just can't understand why I can only put one photo into each blog.  So I should have divided this one.  However I shall just enter a photo of Uluru as the sun rises and put others into the Photo Gallery.

ULURU/AYERS ROCK and KATA TJUTA

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