Can you imagine – being up, dressed and waiting at the hotel doors at 5.30am? That’s what we had to do today, for our Uluru Sunrise tour. It’s hard work being on holiday, we’ve noticed! Perhaps one morning we will get a little sleep in. Once again, it was a cloudy day, so we unfortunately did not get to see the expected colour changes on Uluru. We watched and snapped photos as the sky started to lighten.
Uluru in the early morning
There had been quite a bit of rainfall recently, we were told, and that is why the area looks so lush and green with lots of wildflowers growing.
Uluru was on our Bucket List
Next stop was back to Kata Tjuta, (which means “many heads”) where we had been the previous evening. But this visit was to the other side of the rock formations, or domes, as they called, and we could see many more of these amazing stones. There are 36 domed heads and the tallest is 546m tall.
Back on the bus again and we drove past the turnoff to the legendary Gun Barrel Highway. This road is an isolated desert track consisting of about 1,350 km (840 mi) of washaways, heavy corrugations, stone, sand and flood plains. The name comes from Len Beadell's Gunbarrel Road Construction Party so named as his intention was to build roads as straight as a gun barrel.
Start of the Gunbarrel Highway
Our next stop was Walpa Gorge, where we got up close and personal between a couple of the domes of Kata Tjuta.
The Walpa Gorge
The track was very rough so we had to take extra care when placing our feet – we certainly didn’t want a sprained ankle or worse. Robin’s poor knees insisted he turn back early, but I managed to make it all the way to the end of the track, then rush to get back to the bus in time.
Reflection in the pool
Back to the hotel for lunch and to rest weary legs, then we were off and away for our second tour of the day to see Uluru again, passing by the Ranger’s Station once more into the National Park. We all had to purchase passes and have them available for inspection.
We visited the Cultural Centre, (no photos allowed) where we read about the local Aboriginal people and their endeavours to get their land back. They are now custodians of the land, and work together with the National Parks board to make the area available for all to visit.
Next was a drive around the base of Uluru and we stopped at the chain walk up to the top of the rock. Walking on Uluru is discouraged, and could very well be banned shortly. In our view it seems unnecessary to walk all over this sacred site.
The chain walkway up Uluru
Lots of nooks and crannies in the rock
We viewed Rock Art
The melodic sounds of frogs quietly croaking told us we were nearing Kapi Mutitjula, the sacred pond.
As we left this area to re-board the coach, our sharp eyed guide spotted a wallaby. Out came the cameras, snap, snap, as everyone excitedly tried to get a good picture of this Aussie icon.
Sighted our first wallaby
The afternoon drew to a close, and we headed to the Uluru sunset viewing area. Sadly, once again, the cloud cover didn’t let the sun come through so we missed out on the changing hues painting the rock. There were crowds of people milling around, about 25 large coaches at a guess, all crowding around the tables laden with complimentary wine and nibbles. Most buses departed as all visitors must leave the park by 7.30pm, except for our bus load who were staying on for a BBQ dinner.
Kangaroo steak was on the menu – that’s another item ticked off our Bucket List. Fleecy ponchos were loaned to those who were feeling the chill of the desert air. As we walked around, it looked rather like a convention of monks in our long flowing robes! There was plenty of food, steak, kangaroo, prawns, chicken, sausages and lots of salads. The wine flowed freely for those who liked to indulge, followed by dessert and tea or coffee. It was a great finish to a long day.
Sunset BBQ Dinner
Then we were dropped off at our hotel to fall exhausted into bed. And just for a change, we don’t have to set the alarm for an early rise tomorrow. Bet we still wake up early, though.