Friday 19th November 2004 - Monday 22nd November 2004
Turning off the Stuart Highway, we headed west along the Lasseter Highway towards Uluru for 250Kms. Quite a lonely stretch of road considering that it's the only road to Uluru.
We noticed a very big red rock and being the eager souls that we are, we mistook it for Uluru. A clearer view and a sign told us it was Mount Conner.
Just a cheap imitation and was probably put there to ease the boredom of the drive to Uluru.
We settled in at the Outback Pioneer Lodge Hotel and soon after, scurried off to get our first look at 'the rock' from the lookout at the hotel. It's an awesome sight and looks like it's been painted onto the horizon. Bloody big paint job!
At 3.6Km long and rising a towering 348m, it's a big rock. It's believed that two-thirds of the rock lies beneath the floor.
Over breakfast (eggs on toast) we discussed our plans for the day. "There's a big rock round here, shall we go and see it?". "Yeah!". And so we jumped in the car and drove the 20Kms journey to the rock.
We'd already pre decided that we wouldn't climb the rock purely out of respect to the Anangu (traditional owners of the rock), who regard Uluru as sacred. Once we got to the base of the rock, the climb itself looks really tough. If we'd have chosen to climb it, I doubt we'd have made it anyhow!
After spending an hour watching the rock change through reds, oranges and ochres, we decided to have a look at the cultural centre. The centre is really interesting and shows the story behind Uluru and the local Anangu peoples belief. The one thing that struck us was that all of the staff at the centre and around the park were white. It would've been nice to hear some of the Dreamtime stories from them.
We decided to head over to Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), which are a bizarre collection of smaller, more rounded rocks standing about 30Km to the west of Uluru. From the viewing platfrom, you get a fairly good view but to do them justice, a helicopter is what you need.
Feeling significantly lighter around the wallet, we took off from Yulara airport in the helicopter and first flew over the Yulara (Ayers Rock Resort). The resort, built in the 1980's, looks like the leftovers from some sort of exhibition.
From here we flew towards Uluru, which was really impressive from the air and gives you a true sense of its grand scale. Heading west and leaving Uluru behind us, we flew around The Olgas, which were equally impressive.
A whole new set of colours can be seen at sunset and sunrise, so we headed out to the sunset viewing area and sat an waited. 200 pictures later, we headed back to the hotel to look over the pictures and try and see the differences in colour. Thrilling evening, I tell ya!
We were both 'rocked' out, so we headed into the bar of the hotel to get some food and lubrication. We decided on the set BBQ meal, which comprised of kangaroo, crocodile, emu and thankfully, beef.
The kangaroo was delicous but incredibly rich, we were undecided on the emu and were not keen at all on the crocodile. It was nice to get your own back on the crocs though!
Time to check out and move on, but we still need to see what colours sunrise brings. Go on, turn green or blue we're sick of the reddy oranges!
So, we got up at 04:00, packed our bags, checked out of the hotel and then drove over to the sunrise viewing area.
The park doesn't actually open until 05:00, but as the gate was open we thought was ok and anyhow we'd be able to get a good spot.
We took a rug, packed a flask of coffee and took some croissants. Halfway through the croissant and gazing at the majestic red/orange beauty of Uluru, we were interrupted by the park rangers.
They gave us a slap on the wrist for coming in too early, took our names and the number plate and told us not to do it again. Oops!
05:05. On the horizon, a red clould of dust was heading towards us. What could it be?
We waited anxiously and out of the clouds appeared about 8 AAT Kings coaches, all packed with Japanese tourists complete with a camera or three. So much for our nice romantic sunrise breakfast. Every man and his canine was there.
Every time 'the rock' changed slightly, there were "Ooh's" and "Aah's" and the sound of 500 cameras clicking.
As soon as the sun was up and the rock was it's usual red self, we made tracks.
Destination : Coober Pedy.
We didn't think you'd enjoy all 500 pictures of 'the rock', so here's the best ones :-