An outback adventure driving to Uluru
And there it is. The figurehead on all Australia promotions, websites and tour guides. The reason that so many of us visit this country. A view that is so familiar yet still so unlike anything you’ve ever seen before you can’t help but stare and stare and stare. Uluru. Arriving at the big red rock had been no quick journey, but one I will never forget. My partner and I booked a two-night stay at the Ayers Rock Campground ($42/n for a powered site) after finding it through the free CamperMate app which gave us options of other campsites along the way and places to stop for a break when driving. The drive from Alice Springs to our first stop at Kata Tjuta took around five hours past mulga scrub, barren desert and pairs of kangaroos bouncing away, kicking up a gust of red dusty soil behind them. Four huge dome-shaped rocks make up the Kata Tjuta, which translates as ‘many heads’ and is often referred to as ‘The Olgas’. Aboriginal history tells the story of a tribe who one day split up when the tribal men went off hunting, leaving the women and children to prepare food by the fire. A rival male tribe saw the women and children were alone and kidnapped them. When the hunters came back and found their camp empty they set off in search for their families and discovered the other tribe keeping them hostage. The men carried out their ambush and defeated the kidnappers, burying the other men alive with only their heads sticking out of the sand. The shape of each rock of The Olgas is meant to represent the heads of those warriors who were buried alive. The Olgas are over 360 million years old. Rounded and smoothed out by weather they now take on the look of a soft flowing formation with the highest dome reaching 546 metres high. Stepping out of our cool air-conned vehicle and into the midday heat can only be compared to walking into an oven. We slapped on the suncream and slid on our fly nets which are a MUST whenever outside in the desert. The best way to appreciate the sheer size of each rock is to take a walk through The Olgas until you reach ‘Walpa Gorge’ which takes around 45-minutes return. We paid a visit to the Aboriginal Cultural Centre, a small enclosure with several displays outlining the local history, native surrounding wildlife and flora. The local aboriginal skin group are called the Pitjantjatjara and you can buy their arts and crafts work in the small gift shop at the Centre. And finally we drove on to Uluru. Standing 348 metres high, it is made up of layers of sedimentary rock. Geologically talking it is called a bornhardt: a large rock which has survived changing weather conditions over 100 million years, whilst surrounding rock has worn away. Uluru opened to visitors with the Pitjantjatjara’s consent, who reclaimed ownership of the Rock in 1985. The walk up Uluru is very hard and takes several hours, beginning with a steep 90 degree climb, however it is often not open for walkers due to strong winds and high temperatures. We were informed by a guide that aborigines do not like tourists climbing over the rock as it holds a sacred meaning and referred to us tourists as ‘Minga’, meaning ants. After seeing so many pictures of the iconic Uluru I felt recognition when driving up to the base and seeing the solid formation of dark red rockface. However as we travelled around, the other side looked completely different and wouldn’t be recognised as part of Uluru at all. You can walk into the centre, through huge sloping mounds and green shrubbery and even come across a semi-permanent ‘Mutitjulu Waterhole’. We did a quick walk around the base of Uluru and toured the rest from the comfort of our cool vehicle. We finished the day with the clink of some cold drinks back at the Ayers Rock Campground and a true Aussie-style BBQ using the facilities offered at the campsite. A quick dip in the camp pool before an evening spent under the stars brought the close to a fantastic day.