When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Uluru & Kata Tjuta

These iconic sites in central Australia have to be on everyone’s list when they come to see this country. They are on our’s too.  We made it here in one long day, 450 km.  The wind was in our favor and was very light and from the right rear.  No head winds today!!

We’ll get back to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) soon but first I want to show you some of what this supposedly desolate area has to offer when it rains.

 

 

The grass is all green and the flowers are in bloom.  The left picture was taken on our second travel day near the town of Mildura.  The rest of them are during the last week from Ceduna to Uluru.

Much of this Outback is covered with Sagebrush like plants and stunted trees.  But between them are some beautiful displays of color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

These red flowers cover many hectares (2.5 acres/hectare). The bush has yellow flowers and pea pod like growths.

 

 

The right picture is a close up of the left. The flowers appeared to have fibre optic lights in the tips of the blooms.  They actually appeared to glow, even up close.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The desert is very colorful right now. Australia has had a very lot of rain this winter and early spring.  There has been flooding and major roads washed out.  But someone once said “Every cloud has a silver lining.” And we are the beneficiaries of this one.

Now, again, back to the travelogue.

We got to the campground in the mid-afternoon.  It is a luxury resort with upscale hotels, restaurants, stores, post office, gas station and a campground. It is expensive, $49/night for a power site.  Many people online have complained about the price, but it is the only option within an hour (100 km) of the park.  And consider the placement and where the supplies have to come from.  There are two triple trailer road trains that come from Adelaide (1.500 km/1,000 miles) each week.  This is the nearest city with sufficient supplies to support the resort.  There is also a daily truck from Alice Springs (450 km/250 mi) with perishables. (In the US it would be like supplying Yellowstone Park from Chicago.) With that in mind it seems to me to be a very reasonable price.  Unlike the price we paid for a tent site,with power, in Key West and in New York.  That was $85 USD per night or about AUD $105.  That makes this cheap by comparison!

 

So anyway we arrived and the campground was full. But they did have an overflow area and could get us into a power site tomorrow.  The overflow area was a large dirt area where the surface vegetation had been scraped off and piled at the edges.  It is a looong way to the toilets but we have a portable system we can set up in the rear annex (tent).

 

 

 

 

And we were entertained by this young man trying to entice these three girls into his bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning we had to make a decision.  Visit Uluru, pictured at the top, or Kata Tjuta, pictured left. Uluru is a single monolithic rock and Kata Tjuta is a series of the same type of rock.  They are about 45 km apart.  Geologists think that Kata Tjuta was a much larger monolith than Uluru at one time but has eroded to this.

There are two major trails in the park.  The Uluru circumnavigation and the Valley of Winds at Kata Tjuta.  We chose the Valley of Winds because it circles one of the domes but also goes thru canyons in between the domes.

 

The trail is about 8 km (5 mi) long in a loop.  It is rated as a 4 (out of 5) on difficultness.  This is an easy part.  We took plenty of water and our lunch and set out. Along with a couple of hundred others.  Most turned back at the fork where the loop comes back around to. But one man walked at least half of it in a pair of flip-flops.  We were glad we had hiking boots with ankle support.  The trail was mostly cobble rock of sizes from a walnut to a watermelon, with apple to grapefruit the most common sizes.

 

 

Because the trail went through between the domes we had to climb up the rubble pile and then descend the other side.

We stopped and had lunch at the top.

The weather was overcast so we didn’t have any hot sun beating down on us and the temperature was very reasonable.  The only real problem was that we could not look at the scenery and walk at the same time.  We kept tripping over the cobble in the trail.

 

 

 

We came out into a sort of valley among the domes.  The trail came from behind the partial dome to the right and curved around it back to the start.  There were more domes to the left making a semicircle with behind me an open view out into the flat “Outback”.

Upon completion of the hike we drove the road to Uluru and scouted out the parking areas for the sunset and sunrise picture taking.  We also circumnavigated the rock by road.  It is impressive, especially close up.

 

 

One of the features that is not seen in most all the pictures are the holes that are etched into the surface. Some shallow and some deep.

 

The most important reason that the thousands, yes-thousands, of people are here is to take a sunset or sunrise or both picture!  They bring in people by the dozens of bus loads.  Because of the overcast there were none of those pictures when we did the hike but the next day the clouds had cleared the southern half of the sky and the sun was probably going to make.  So we did too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But because of the clouds Kata Tjuta off in the distance lit up first.

And here is some of the crowd.  There were probably 500-600 people there but the parking lot and the viewing areas could have held much more.  We are now done here and are headed to Alice Springs.  This is the “big city” around here, even if it is just a small town.