Sunday, January 31, 2016

Uluru and Kata Tjuta, speed trip version

This is day three from leaving home. Read Day One in Adelaide here. Read Day Two in Alice Springs here. (And this is the shortened version of my post about this. Read the Full Experience here if you like.)

Here is some scenery along our way from Alice Springs to Uluru.

We got to stop at a service station for 15 minutes and we enjoyed the emu while we waited. 

Finally, we made it to Uluru. Our first stop was the Cultural Center. It opened in 1995 to educate the people who come about the aboriginal people and why they consider Uluru so special. They never want to place restrictions on people climbing Uluru, they want everything to be your choice. So they take time to educate you. (Sounds like "teach them correct principles, and let them govern themselves.") The guide is not permitted to go with us inside, as the aboriginal people want you to experience it for yourself. They request that you not photograph anything. They want you to stop, listen to the land, the insects, the wind, and experience it first hand. I can see the wisdom in that. If photography were permitted, people would be snapping pictures of the plaques instead of reading them. They'd be taking selfies of themselves in front of the scenery, instead of letting themselves just absorb the scenery. 

It is 2 miles across, 1 mile wide. It takes 6 miles to walk around it. But today was too hot (36°C/97°F) so some areas of the base were closed off for safety. 

Uluru is a sacred place to the Anangu (AN a new) people. The perimeter is marked with signs in certain areas that request you not take pictures to respect the sacredness of the site. 
We had no problem complying with that. 

Cave paintings that teach stories

We settled in for dinner at the sunset viewing point. I only took off my fly net long enough for the picture. The flies are constantly trying to land on your face. And what keeps their population so high is feeding on dung. So, you don't really want them on your face. 

We headed back to our campsite. After a brief lesson in handling dingos and wild dogs, Tom told us how to deter snakes from entering our site by carving a deep snake ring with a shovel around our sleeping area. We took turns making a deep trench around our entire area and settled down inside our swags. If you google it, almost every image will show you something more like a tent that would actually seal you away from deadly animals. But these swags were just canvas pockets that our sleeping bags fit into. I can't figure out what extra protection they offer except for a large "monster flap" that I think is mostly a false sense of security. It's called a monster flap because when small children are afraid they cover their faces, hoping that if they can't see the monster, the monster can't see them. Tom said, if we hear plodding sounds next to our swag, don't open the monster flap or we might see a dingo hovering over our faces. It was too hot to cover up anyway. I doused myself with bug spray, put a big rock next to my head to throw at the dingos, and watched the Milky Way, hoping no snakes would try to keep warm in my bag. 

Here is our campsite and snake ring. I slept under the ghost gum tree. 

Today we were headed to Kata Tjuta about 50 km further down the road from Uluru. You can see them both from Yulara at the same time. 

There are 36 domes of Kata Tjuta, hence the name "many heads." 
It spreads over 20 kilometers, or 12 miles. 

Kata Tjuta is a men's site so adult aboriginal women are not allowed to go there at all. It is too sacred for us to go see all of it, but the aboriginals have opened up just two hikes that we are allowed to walk through. It was my favorite place of everything we've seen. 

Our tour group. 

We headed back to our campsite for lunch. It was ham, lettuce, beetroot, canned corn and more cheese than I ever allow myself to have wrapped in a store-bought tortillas (oh the sacrifice!). 

Our tour group had people from all over the world. No Australians. 
We met people from Canada, Holland, Sweden, Germany, Spain, France, and New Zealand.

With Matt and Tom, our guides. They do this twice a week!

We stopped for dinner at the store. Found a frozen kangaroo tail in the freezer section. 

It still had the hair on it. 

Heading out to get a view of the sunset. Tonight was going to be stunning. 

Sunrise looked amazing. 
I was waiting my turn to be dropped off my the bus to run around the base of Uluru. 

I actually got lost. I know it sounds impossible, but I started in the one place where someone could take a wrong turn. I went into a dead end path. The meant lost time and I didn't have any extra. I had to make that 8:00 bus. So I had to find another group with a guide to give me instruction. Seriously, it's a CIRCLE around a huge rock you can't miss. It was humbling. 

I got back in time to take a shower and wander the gift shop one last time. The only thing free in Yulara is the shuttle to and from the airport. It was big and comfortable. Almost as big as the airport. This is where we waiting to load the plane. 

Another good trip. We're getting good at this. 

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