Posts Tagged With: uluru

Day 18 – Uluru & Kata Tjuta

It was yet another glorious day as we got going early, packed up Bertha, our big car, and headed out to Uluru.

First stop was the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Entry Station where we bought the minimum 3 day pass @ $25 per person.

Entering Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Our next stop was at the Mala Walk Car Park where we parked with the Long Vehicles and Buses.  Smothered in sunscreen and Bushman’s insect repellent we set off on the Lungkata Walk to Mutitjulu Waterhole.

Views around Uluru

Please respect the Rock

Please respect the Rock

There are many different ways to tour around Uluru

Its 24 years since we last visited Uluru and there are some obvious changes.  Today the rock climb was closed because the wind was too strong.  There is a lot more signage asking that people do not climb the rock, although it isn’t forbidden unless the climb is officially closed for the day.  I did climb to the top in October 1993 but I wouldn’t do it again now, mostly out of respect for the Anangu traditional owners.  Plus I’m a lot older now!

History Fact: On 26 October 1985, title deeds to Uluru and Kata Tjuta were handed back to the Anangu traditional owners.  Since then the Anangu have been working with the Director of National Parks to jointly manage the Park.  During this time the park has been recognised as a World Heritage Area for both its natural and cultural values.

The walk was awe inspiring.  Whilst Uluru looks like a smooth single rock from a distance, up close there are sheets of rock coming off, large boulders, caves, cracks and crevices, and more – it certainly isn’t smooth.  It is however majestic and spiritual – there is no yelling and screaming here – people even tend to talk in whispers.  Interestingly, there is no litter either – another mark of respect for this sacred place.

Views around Uluru

Views around Uluru

Our walk started in the shade but eventually the sun caught up to us and it became quite hot and sticky – and zillions of flies.  We did this walk 24 years ago but since then fences and barriers have been erected in places to keep visitors at a distance from the more sacred places.  There are more designated walkways and boardwalks and a lot more interpretive signs.  In other words its being more properly managed now.  Much of the area is under a revegetation program and places we went so long ago are no longer accessible and/or visible.  With recent rains Uluru is very green and there is plenty of long grasses and other shrubs and trees surrounding the place.  There is a surprising amount of vegetation growing on even the highest parts of the rock.

Views around Uluru

Views around Uluru

Views around Uluru

Mutitjulu Waterhole

If you are planning to walk around Uluru, you do need to do a bit of forward planning as there are no toilets except at the car park and they are 300 metres away.  There are only a couple of spots where you can access fresh water so you need to carry your own with you.  The overall Uluru Base Walk is a loop of around 10.6 kilometres.  We walked to the Mititjulu Water hole and back, which was about 5 kms.

It was great to be able to return to Bertha where it was cool, we had toilet facilities, and we could have a good cold wash – red dust sticks to sunscreen!  We then had a light lunch in Bertha before heading off to the Cultural Centre.

Nearing the Cultural Centre

Nearing the Cultural Centre

The Cultural Centre is a beautiful building made of mud bricks and natural timbers and provides a wealth of information about traditional Anangu people.  Unfortunately photos aren’t allowed.  We spent more time there than we should have – it was so fascinating.  There is also a gift shop and a cafe.  We were perhaps hoping for some traditional bush tucker but settled for a true blue Aussie lamington with our coffees.

It was then back to Bertha and head west on the 50 km trip to Kata Tjuta (The Olgas).

First stop was at the Kata Tjuta Dune Viewing Lookout.  After a considerable number of steps up a large red sand dune I came to the viewing platform.  This was to the only time that we could feel reasonably close up to Kata Tjuta and capture the size of it in a single photo.

View of Kata Tjuta from the Dunes lookout

We then continued to the Valley of the Winds carpark and started up the very rocky pathway.  It was rough and difficult terrain and after what we estimated was about a kilometre, with a lot further to go, we retraced out steps and returned to Bertha.  Even though we didn’t make it all the way to the Karu Lookout, we still got up close enough to appreciate the size and majesty of this incredible rock formation.

Start of the Valley of the Winds walk

Views around Kata Tjuta

Views around Kata Tjuta

Leaving Kata Tjuta

After a cool drink we drove to the Walpa Gorge Walk carpark.  We did this walk last time we were here and remember it as being very beautiful. However, today we were tired and there were busloads of international tourists to share the path with, so we decided against even attempting this walk today.

We then drove back to Ayres Rock Resort and set-up Bertha before collapsing in our chairs with a cold beer.

What a great day we have had!  We walked nearly 11 kms according to our fitness trackers and had great close up encounters with some of the world’s oldest and most majestic scenery.  Plus we learnt a lot more about this country and its traditional owners.

We were too tired to bother with cooking dinner so we caught the shuttle bus around to the Outback Pioneer Kitchen where we had a delicious meal and a glass or two of a very nice red.  Extra bonus was when a live musician, Stu Harcourt, came to the stage and blew us away with his song arrangements featuring guitar and didgeridoo.

Stu Harcourt at the Outback Pioneer Lodge

Lessons Learnt Today:

  • Touring in a motorhome to places like Uluru and Kuta Tjuta is fantastic, especially as fresh water, toilets, and other facilities are hard to come by in the remote outback
  • Don’t try to do too much in one day. We would have been better to have visited Uluru one day and Kata Tjuta on another day – after-all the Native Park Pass is for 3 days so why not use it.
  • Wear appropriate footwear. We both wore good quality walking shoes at Uluru and that was OK as the pathways were mostly fine red dust/gravel.  At Kata Tjuta, however, the paths were very rocky and uneven, and proper hiking boots, preferably with ankle support, would be ideal.


Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: ,

Day 17 – Ayres Rock Resort, Yulara

We decided to have a quiet non-driving day today.

It was beautiful weather again today, and it felt a bit hotter than we have felt so far.

After a leisurely start we enjoyed a cup of plunger coffee in the sun with our books, on the benches behind our parking spot.

Bertha happily parked

Looking out our backdoor

It was then time to do some more exploring of the Ayres Rock Resort, which is a lot more than just a Camping Ground.

Map of Ayres Rock Resort

We were starting to feel a bit hungry so we caught the shuttle bus to The Town Square where we had a delicious lunch at Gecko’s Café.  Other eating options at the Town Square include the Ayres Wok Noodle Bar (clever name) and the Kaluta Academy Café where we had coffee yesterday.  The Town Square also has a range of speciality and gift shops, a newsagent, a post office, an ANZ bank, an IGA supermarket and a large tourist information and tour booking centre.

Ayres Rock Resort Shuttle Bus

Views around Ayres Rock Resort

Views around Ayres Rock Resort

After browsing the Town Square we then caught the shuttle bus back to Bertha.  It was quite hot by now and there were a zillion flies so we put the cooler on and caught up with a bit more reading inside, without the flies.

At close to 6.00 pm we headed off, with plenty of Bushman’s spray, to the Naninga Lookout to catch the sunset over Uluru.  There were quite a few other people there to watch the sunset including one young couple who obviously decided to make a night of it and bought up chairs, wine glasses and wine, and a roast chicken to enjoy.

Views of Sunset from the lookout

Then it was back to Bertha for a spot of TV before having an early night.  We have a big day planned tomorrow!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: , ,

Day 16 – Erldunda to Ayres Rock Resort, Yulara

We woke to – you guessed it – another beautiful morning.  A little chilly to start but by 9.00 am there was already a bit of a bite in the sun.

From Erldunda we headed west on the Lasseter Highway.

Road is Open

One of the first things we noticed were the multi-lingual road signs along the highway.  We had only seen a few such signs previously in our travels and we assume that there must be more international visitors flying into Alice Springs and renting cars to drive down to Uluru than coming up from the south where we have come from.

Multi-lingual signs on Lasseter Highway

Our first stop was going to be at Mount Ebeneza Roadhouse (65 Camps 9) as we thought that this might be an alternative destination on our way back to the Stuart Highway from Uluru.  As there were two tourist buses there when we passed and the parking area was smaller than we expected, we had as close a look as we could but didn’t stop.  There was a flat area out the back which appeared to be the caravan park, and according to Camps 9 there are facilities needed for an overnight stop.

Mt Ebenezer Roadhouse

We drove on to the Kernot Range Rest Area (66 Camps 9) where we parked in the shade and had a cup of coffee.  There is a sign that advises that 24 hour camping here is allowable.  Some German tourists were already there filling up water bottles from the water tank, which was labelled as suitable for drinking.  A young chap came over and asked what we thought about the drinkability of the water, and we suggested that it should be OK but that we would boil it first.  He was happy with that answer and said that they did have some other water and that they would boil what they had collected here.

Kernot Range Rest Area

From Kernot Range we then drove on to the Mt Connor Lookout (69 Camps 9).  This offers a spectacular view of Mt Connor, which we are sure is often mistaken for Uluru.  I climbed to the top of the fine red dust sand-dune across the road for some more spectacular views of the Lake Amadeus salt flats.  This was the first time that the flies became a real nuisance so it was out with the Bushman’s spray and subsequently a lot fewer flies.

Shorty at Mt Connor Lookout

Lake Amadeus Salt Flat – other side of the road to Mt Connor Lookout

Back in Bertha after photos, we continued to Curtain Springs Wayside Inn & Cattle Station (70 Camps 9) which is about 84 kilometres from Uluru.  They have limited powered caravan sites here but there is a very basic shower block and there is a toilet block.  Unpowered camping is free but there is a charge for power or showers.  We had a look at the café but $16 for a basic hamburger was a bit too pricey for us.  Diesel cost $1.85 per litre which we also passed on.  As we hadn’t been able to access any fresh water since Coober Pedy, we took the opportunity to top up the water tank from a jerry can that we had filled from the bowser at Coober Pedy.  We lunched in Bertha before continuing along the highway.

Curtain Springs Wayside Inn & Cattle Station

Pet Emu at Curtain Springs

Although there were plenty of road signs warning about wandering livestock, it wasn’t until we were getting closer to Uluru that we actually saw a few head of cattle along the roadside.  We also saw a couple of dead cattle by the road and wondered how you would move a carcass to the side of the road if you hit something.  Whatever – we’re glad that we have a bull-bar on Bertha.

Scenes along the highway

We drove past Sandy Way Rest Area (71 Camps 9) which is 28 kilometres east of Yulara and the last place to legally camp before arriving at Uluru.  Very basic with no facilities and no shade or protection but it does have mobile reception.  This place might be a good option to stop overnight and get into Yulara early next morning.

As we got closer to our destination we found “tantalising glimpses” of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas).

Tantalising Glimpses

Before arriving at the Ayres Rock Resort Campground, we had an important detour to make – to the Yulara dump point.  We don’t usually mention this subject but followers of our blog who may be following in our footsteps (wheel-tracks?) at some stage need to know that none of the roadhouses we have visited in the last several days have dump point facilities, so finding a dump point takes on a certain priority.  When we arrived there was a queue of SUVs waiting to use the facility, which doesn’t often happen.  This is a very different dump point and comprises a grate in the middle of a concrete driveway, covered by a removable metal plate.  It’s quite a different experience but there is a tap with a hose and a hand-basin to wash up afterwards – it all works!

Secret Mens’ Business – in broad daylight

From the dump point it was only a few kilometres to the Ayres Rock Resort Campground reception.  Ann had booked ahead which was just as well as she had booked a site suitable for a vehicle longer than 7 metres, and there weren’t any others available when we arrived.  This was causing some problems for those ‘vanners who though that they would just rock up and take their chances.  We have a great site with power, fresh water, and sullage; close to amenities and with a BBQ within 5 metres of Bertha.  How good is that?  And because we booked 3 nights, we got a special offer and this place is now cheaper per night than we have paid for over a week.

Welcome to Ayres Rock Resort, Yulara

After setting up Bertha we did what all good travellers would do – we caught the free shuttle bus to the Outback Pioneer BBQ & Bar for a refreshing cold beer.  Ayres Rock Resort is a huge place with several distinct zones, with a free shuttle bus running all around the resort at approximately 20 minute intervals.  There are also walking tracks for the more adventurous.  We were getting a little hungry but the food service at the Outback Pioneer didn’t start for a while so we caught the shuttle bus to the Town Square and had a good look around there.  We enjoyed a cup of coffee at the Kaluta Academy Café, which is operated by indigenous hospitality trainees.  They did a good job.

Classic Car at Outback Pioneer shopping centre

View of Town Square at Ayres Rock Resort

It was still too early for the restaurants to open, so we caught the bus back to the Campground and had an equally delicious dinner in Bertha.

We haven’t been to Uluru for nearly 25 years and we are really looking forward to having a good look around both Uluru and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas).  As we’ll be here for a few days we may not post daily updates.  Stay tuned!

Categories: 2017 Up The Centre Adventure | Tags: , ,

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