Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park [Ayers Rock and The Olgas]
05.16.2009 - 05.22.2009 78 °F
Pukulpa Ngalyanama Ngurra Nganampakutu - Welcome To Aboriginal Country.
The most instantly recognizable of all Australian symbols is the huge, red monolith of Uluru, or Ayers Rock.
Rising high above the flat desert landscape, Uluru is one of the world's natural wonders, along with the 36 rock domes of Kata Tjuta, or The Olgas, and their deep valleys and gorges. The National Park was named as a World Heritage site in 1987.
The entire area is sacred to Aboriginal people and, in 1985, the park was handed back to its indigenous owners and its sights re-assumed their traditional names. As Aboriginal land, it is leased back to the Australian government and jointly managed with the local Anangu people.
Uluru, 2.25 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, stands 1,142 feet above the plains. It is made from a single piece of sandstone which extends 3 miles beneath the desert surface. Besides its immense Aboriginal cultural significance, Uluru is an outstanding natural phenomenon, best observed by watching its changing colors at dusk and dawn.
At Uluru, we watched the sunrise, met with Alice, an Aboriginal guide, who taught use how to make tools in the traditional way, light fires and how to throw a spear!
We also walked the nearly 6 mile path around the base then watched the sunset continually in awe of how the rock changes from minute to minute.
One of the interesting phenomenon at Uluru is how many people climb the rock regardless of the fact that the Aboriginal owners of the land ask us to respect their wishes and not climb the rock. The route to the top follows the sacred path taken by the ancestral Mala (hare wallaby) men for important ceremonies. We watched numerous people climb Uluru and wanted to take on a personal survey to find out why, regardless of the wishes of the Anangu people and the strong warnings about the dangers of climbing (several people die each year climbing Uluru), they still choose to climb............takes all kinds.
Kata Tjuta, meaning "many heads", is a collection of massive rounded rock domes 25 miles west of Uluru. Kata Tjuta is not one large rock; it is a system of gorges and valleys that you can walk around, making it a haunting, quiet and spiritual place. Some of the rocks are bunched close together with only narrow precipitous crevices between. Others, rounded and polished by the wind, are more spaced apart. The highest is called Mount Olga [1500 feet] and is nearly 660 feet higher than Uluru.
The rocks, also known as the Olgas [named after the Queen of Spain in 1872, when the rocks were first explored by a white man], like their nearby neighbour, Uluru, have been sacred to the Aborigines since time immemorial and figure prominently in their legends about the Dreaming, the time of creation. To the Anangu people, Kata Tjuta is of equal significance to Uluru, but fewer stories about it can be told as they are restricted to initiated tribal men.
We enjoyed a sunset eco-tour of Kata Tjuta which was just as spectacular as watching the sunset at Uluru.
Archaeological evidence suggests that Aboriginal people have lived in this area for at least 22,000 years. The Anangu people believe that both sites were formed during the creation period by ancestral spirits who also gave them the laws and rules of society that they live by today.
After leaving the Park, we continued our journey northwards towards Kings Canyon which is part of the Watarrka National Park in Northern Territory, Australia. Sitting at the western end of the George Gill Range, it is 200 miles southwest of Alice Springs and 825 miles south of Darwin, our destination at "The Top End".
We drove on the unsealed Mereenie -Watarrka Road, a scenic road traversing Aboriginal lands which required a permit. We met fellow travelers and interesting sights on our way to Kings Canyon!
The walls of Kings Canyon are over 900 feet high, with Kings Creek at the bottom. Part of the gorge is a sacred Aboriginal site.
Rebecca managed to find herself some sensible headwear to protect herself from the outback sun!
We spent one night at Kings Canyon and then continued our way north to Glen Helen. Situated at the Western end of the spectacular West MacDonnell Ranges, Glen Helen Resort is the climax to an adventurous and colourful drive, a little over an hour from Alice Springs.
We took a couple of walks, including the Glen Helen Gorge
and the Ormiston Gorge Waterhole
Next stop - A Town Named Alice!
Trevor & Rebecca