This week was one of long drives to see outstanding scenery and wonderful hiking.
We started with an all day drive to reach Uluru – also formerly and often still known as Ayer’s Rock, after we passed from the state of South Australia to the Northern Territory. We watched a fabulous sunset in Yulara which is viewing distance from Uluru and Kata Tjata. We saw in person how the massive Uluru changes from maroon-ish red to brilliant orange before fading into night.
Speaking of brilliant, so is star gazing here. We can now easily pick out the Southern Cross constellation, yet the Milky Way seems to have so many more stars than at home. Someone had told us that at home we can only see a third of the stars in the sky, while here we are able to see two thirds. It seems strange and I have no idea how that would be true, but surely there appear to be many more than I have ever seen from home.
We also enjoyed a sunrise walk around the base of Uluru,
then had an Anangu guide and translator explain some of the Mutitjulu cave paintings. We also learned how the Aborigines feel Uluru is sacred. This land was only recently returned to them, and in respect the government has agreed that beginning in 2019, the climb will no longer be allowed.
The next day we started off with a sunrise view over Uluru and Kata Tjuta – also formerly and often still known as The Olgas,
where we later had a wonderful hike including a loop up, down and around Kata Tjuta.
The area also has some interesting birds with bright orange beaks and eyes!
We had such beautiful views, and enjoyed talking around fires at our campsites.
On our last full day of the week touring the Oodnadatta Track and the Red Center Outback, we spent hiking in Watarrka – also formerly and often still known as Kings Canyon National Park. It was described as a Rim Walk which to me conjured up a circular walk looking into a volcano, or along the Grand Canyon edge, but this was also up, down around and through. We saw ancient cycads and ghost gum trees up close.
We said fond farewells to half of our travel mates and our guide over a fun dinner out. Now eight of us have now flown to Darwin where we have a free day before we start the reminder of our tour of this area. If you would imagine that the whole of Australia is a large upside down heart, we are now at the bottom point of the heart, where this area is known as the Top End of Australia.
I want to finish this week with more of the Aussie – pronounced Ozzie by most everyone but Americans, lingo that I have heard while we’ve been in the country: G’day, mate, fourteen sometimes sounds more like fourdeen, billabong – which is a form of lake or lagoon, and, boomer – for a male kangaroo.