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Friday, 06 February 2009

Uluru or Bust: Adventure in Australia’s Outback - Page 3

Written by Kristen Hamill
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They thought we were slightly nuts.

Six of us, all students at the University of Adelaide — three Americans (Jonny, Kate, and myself) one Brit (Carrie-Ann), one Canadian (Taylor), and one Aussie (Jakob) who had made the trip before — were making a five day round-trip from Adelaide, north through 1500 kilometers of empty desert, in the middle of the Australian summer, without air-conditioning.  We were headed to Uluru, the giant red monolith also known as Ayers Rock, sacred to Aboriginal tribes and as much an Australian icon as the kangaroo.

Uluru or Bust: Adventure in Australia’s Outback, University of Adelaide, Uluru, Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta, outback camper trip, Uluru’s Aboriginal history, Valley of the Winds, Kings Canyon, Coober Pedy, The Big Winch, Mt. Ebenezer, travel Adelaide, Kristen HamillWe followed a path lined with informational plaques explaining Uluru’s Aboriginal history. An overhang of the rock shaped like an ocean wave served as a mock surfing photo-op and a place for all of us to get out of the sun. We circled the monolith, exploring all of its caverns and inlets, until the heat got the better of us and returned to the van.

 

 

 

Later in the afternoon we visited the park’s other major landmark—Kata Tjuta, Uluru or Bust: Adventure in Australia’s Outback, University of Adelaide, Uluru, Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta, outback camper trip, Uluru’s Aboriginal history, Valley of the Winds, Kings Canyon, Coober Pedy, The Big Winch, Mt. Ebenezer, travel Adelaide, Kristen Hamillalso known as the Olgas.  Kata Tjuta, meaning “many heads” in Pitjantjatjara, was a cluster of 36 weathered rock domes, similar in color to Uluru.   After hiked around the base of Kata Tjuta the boys decided to walk through the poetically named “Valley of the Winds”, while the girls and I explored the rest of the park.

 

In the late afternoon we drove back to Uluru to watch the sunset. Sunrise and sunset are the times to watch Uluru's color change; depending on the season and weather conditions the rock can turn from silvery-grey to orange, sun-bleached yellow to violet, or to Uluru's most well-known shade—that deep red that is synonymous with the Australian outback.   We found a vacant spot along the park fence and settled down to watch the sun work its magic.  The first sign of color crept in from the east, outlining clouds in pink and orange.  Uluru’s transformation was so quick if you had turned your back for half a minute you’d have missed it entirely. As the rock faded from red to brown, we waited for a sign of dingoes or wallabies in the bush, and then went back for dinner.

 

 

Uluru or Bust: Adventure in Australia’s Outback, University of Adelaide, Uluru, Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta, outback camper trip, Uluru’s Aboriginal history, Valley of the Winds, Kings Canyon, Coober Pedy, The Big Winch, Mt. Ebenezer, travel Adelaide, Kristen HamillFrom Uluru we drove to Kings Canyon to hike off excess calories consumed in the form of kangaroo wraps and baked potatoes the night before.  The steep initial incline was a killer, but the view was worth the pain. Anyone who has seen Priscilla, Queen of the Desert will remember the scene where the three drag queens proudly gaze over Watarrka National Park from atop the canyon rim.  We found ourselves in that exact spot, minus the feathers and sequined undergarments, admiring the incredible red desert landscape. Halfway through the 6-kilometer hike we climbed down into the “Garden of Eden”, a large waterhole shaded by palm trees and oversized ferns. Everyone else jumped right in, but it took some prodding to get me into the dark water. In the end, I held my breath and prayed that the creatures skittering over my calves weren’t large enough to eat me.

 

We spent far too long swimming, and paid for it by getting lost on the way back after losing sight of the trail markers. We chased the sun back towards Coober Pedy, dodging wallabies, cows, and a herd of horses continuing to keeping it real for us in the middle of the road.  $10 got us a camp site in Mt. Ebenezer’s abandoned lot and we decided to grab a few drinks at the bar attached to the gas station.   The bar was dead besides a few truckers and a rough-looking couple at the pool table, but the bartender, a friendly middle-aged woman, served us a round of XXXX Gold beer bottles with a welcoming smile.

 

“Should be a good night,” she said, plugging a microphone into a stereo behind the bar, “the Emu Train is coming!”

 

(Page 3 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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