Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was first inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1987 for its outstanding universal natural values, and then again in 1994 for its outstanding universal cultural values and features spectacular geological formations that dominate the vast red sandy plain of central Australia. Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) are the two major features of the park and the primary reason for the hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
There is, undeniably, something very spiritual about being there and I was overcome with feelings of connection to the land, of ancient religion and sacred beings, of peace and unbridled beauty, and we decided the best way to fully appreciate the area was to do so on foot.
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Bushwalking Day One – Base Walk, Uluru
One of the first things that hits you about Uluru is its size. To say it’s ‘big’ is a gross understatement. Uluru is huge – a huge, rounded, red sandstone monolith with a circumference of 9.4 kilometres (5.1 miles). It rises to 340 metres (1,115.5 feet) above the plain, making it taller than the Chrysler Building in New York.
Driving along the Lasseter Highway the previous day, we were able to see Uluru 30 minutes before we reached the township of Yulara and at the time Uluru was approx. 20 kilometres (12.7 miles) from where we were (as the crow flies).
As the temperature rapidly rises, reaching its zenith by 3 pm, we arrived early and set off just prior to 7 am. We walked anti-clockwise around Uluru, mainly because everyone else was heading in the opposite direction, and although the heat was setting in as we neared the end of the track, for the most part we were alone, able to enjoy the serenity of the surroundings.
After completing the 10.6 kilometre walk (6.1 miles), I have to say I thought this was the best way to fully appreciate the natural and cultural beauty of Uluru. Every angle provided a different view – different colours and patterns – and oft times it was hard to take my eyes away from it. I was in awe of the beauty on offer.
Uluru is a place of great cultural value to the Anangu – the Aboriginal people of the Western Desert, and the rock art in the caves around the base of Uluru provides further evidence of their enduring cultural traditions.
I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to visit Uluru.
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Bushwalking Day Two – The Valley of the Winds, Kata Tjuta
About 32 kilometres (19.1 miles) to the west of Uluru are the steep-sided domes of Kata Tjuta. There are 36 of them and the domes cover an area of 35 square kilometres (8,648.2 acres). The highest dome, Mount Olga, reaches 500 metres (1,640.5 feet) above the plain. That is higher than the tip of the Empire State Building.
Our initial intention was to walk to the Karingana Lookout only and then return and drive back to walk the Walpa Gorge. As we reached the first lookout (Karu), we spoke to a tour guide who informed us the entire walk was easy enough, so we made the decision to do the full circuit walk in the Valley of the Winds.
Although this walk was only 7.4 kilometres (4.1 miles), considerable shorter than the Uluru base walk, it is graded difficult and took just as long as to complete due to the sloping nature of the track. For each up there was a down, for each down there was an up, and not all of them were easy, but the view was breathtaking in every sense of the word.
And here is a photo that provides some perspective.
Dean loved this area and thought it more spectacular than Uluru and I’m sorry the heat prevented us from walking the Walpa Gorge.
By the time we arrived back at the car, it was only 10:30 am yet already 38°C (100.4°F), and I was beginning to feel the effects of heat stroke. All my First Aid training kicked in and we called it quits, returning back to the camp ground where I spent 20 minutes recovering under a cold shower.
There are more photos to come and a final wrap up of our time there.
I’ll get those final thoughts posted over the next day or so.
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