People often ask which one did you like better, Australia or New Zealand? Is it necessary to choose? They have different kinds of beauty. You tell me if you think this is breath taking.
We got a good start on sleep deprivation this morning. I was up at 4 a.m. We packed all of our bags the night before so we’d have almost nothing to do when we got up except eat breakfast that came in a box.
Today’s Planned Schedule
- 4:30 a.m. wake up call
- 5:00 a.m. bags outside room for the porters
- 5:00 a.m. pick up boxed breakfast at the reception desk
- 5:45 a.m. Depart hotel for flight to Ayers Rock/Uluru
- 7:25 a.m. Qantas Airways flight 1851 departs Cairns (CNS) – breakfast is served.
- 9:40 a.m. arrive at Connellan Airport (AYQ) Ayers Rock/Uluru/Yulara
- 10:30 a.m. Explore Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park
- 11:00 a.m. Hike the Walpa Gorge Trail in Kata Tjuta, 45 minutes to an hour
- 12:45 p.m. lunch at the Cultural Center in Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park, on your own
- Free time for 1hr, 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.
- 2:00 p.m. Hike the Kuniya Walk in Uluru, guided tour, approximately 45 minutes
- 3:30 p.m. arrive at Desert Gardens Hotel in Yulara, The Ayers Rock Resort
- Free time from 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
- 6:30 p.m. depart for sunset at Uluru/Ayers Rock, 1 1/2 hours, back at 8:00 p.m.
- 8:00 p.m. free time if you’re crazy, go to bed if you’re not.
It was a big bright beautiful sunny day. We took a puddle jumper from Cairns to the center of Australia—Uluru, a sacred place for the Aborigines of the area known as Anangu.
The flight to Ayers Rock/Uluru
We left the lush green area of Cairns,
and flew over the red center of Australia.
It looked as if someone shot a bullet into the ground, and it shattered in all directions.
There were purple mountains, green plants, red hued soils, and white salt flats,
and a mix of even more salt flats as we flew over the desert.
Right before we arrived there she was, Uluru, sticking out high above the land around her.
We spent half a day in the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park exploring this area. The park is a UNESCO site protected for its beauty and cultural importance.
Why is Uluru sacred?
Uluru, a big sandstone rock in the middle of Australia, is an area where there are many springs, water holes, rock caves and ancient paintings. Due to the water, there’s a lot of food.
According to Aboriginal lore, the world was unformed. Their ancestors emerged from the void and journeyed across the land. They created all living creatures and the features of the desert landscape.
The recording of this time is called “Creation Time or Dreamtime” in English and can be seen in Uluru’s fissures, cliffs and caves. Various prominences represent different ancestral spirits, and by touching Uluru, an aborigine can invoke the spirits for blessings.
It didn’t take long before one of our travel mates was driven so crazy by the local blowfly that she could hardly stand it. The blowfly is a tiny little insect that looks for moisture in your eyes, nose, ears or mouth. We were told shewing them away is known as the Australian wave in these parts.
Today the mystery of the “fly net” on the “what to bring” travel list was unveiled.
Walpa Gorge Trail – Kata Tjuta
Our first hike was between two of the “many heads” of Kata Tjuta – the English translation of the local word.
The trail head had a bench to sit and rest, shelter from the sun.
We had 45 minutes to make it to the gorge and back, a walk that was an hour round trip. We weren’t going to make it all the way.
We stopped for a photo op. Tom’s hat is flipped up, my pants are puffed out (again!) and Mom looks like a punk rocker.
It was hot and windy. We look goofy, but we had sunscreen on and our water bottles full. What more does a person need to be happy?
This is some of the terrain of the area. Where the water flowed, the grass grew.
The trail was marked by little red rocks lined up one after the other. A big deep breath in for wide open Australian spaces. Ahhhh.
On Our Lunch Break
We stopped at the Cultural Center for some food, a bathroom break and an hour of free time.
After eating, Mom, Tom and I went on the Liru Walk toward the base of Uluru.
It rained in December so the flowers were blooming and the grasses were green.
There were no seasons like we know at home. Here, there are seasons with rain and seasons without rain.
Pink flowers stood out against the red rock. There were yellow and purple flowers, too.
Grass grew in rings. It was notable as we flew in. There were a lot of little circles on the ground.
On the way back from Uluru we saw termites at work. Everything has its place. Even the termites and blowflies.
The Kuniya Walk at Uluru
After our lunch pit stop, together our group went on the Kuniya walk.
It’s a great walk to see some bush tucker, the local word for food; native trees, cave paintings and a sacred waterhole.
Because it rained, this bush plum had fruit on it.
Women gather fruit. Men hunt for meat. The pickings get slim in the dry times when there isn’t much for anyone to eat.
The trail was an easy walk.
We went to the family cave where the aborigines would gather in the evening. They’d make a fire, tell stories of the area to the children and paint their adventures on the rock.
Looking out from the cave, the landscape was pretty green.
A little ways down along the trail we found Kapi Mutitjulu. This is the most dependable water source at Uluru.
Although many stories of creation are kept secret and sacred only for the Aborigines, this story is told.
The Home of Wanampi, an Aborigine Story of Creation
After Minyma Kuniya (woma python woman) defeated Wati Liru (poisonous snake man), her spirit combined with her nephew’s and together they became Wanampi (water snake).
Wanampi has the power to control the supply of water here.
In traditional times, Anangu would sing out “Kuka kuka” and Wanampi would release the Kapi (water) and let it flow into the water hole. It’s a place of great respect and is treated as sacred.
The aborigines invite visitors to take a seat, listen to the sounds around, breathe deeply and notice what you feel. They say the feeling is the energy of Wanampi who lives here. They say she is a strong woman.
The River red gum tree is a form of Eucalyptus. It is common around the area. The white bark glows in the dark when the moon is full.
Desert Gardens Hotel
Around 3:30 p.m. we arrived at our hotel. We had free time until 6:30 p.m. We used ours to get some food at the local IGA in town center and pass out on the bed in our air conditioned room. It got to around 102 degrees today.
Town center is also the place where our travel mates bought their fly nets.
The Visitor’s Center at the Desert Gardens Hotel.
Sunset at Uluru
Cheers to watching the sunset at Uluru.
I’m pretty sure the champagne was unlimited and so were the snacks. They also made mimosas.
I told these ladies that they looked like nuns wearing their colorful “fly nets.”
If only they would have called them mosquito netting we would have understood what they meant.
Uluru wasn’t dazzling on this cloud-covered night. Apparently she changes colors from moment to moment when the sun sets.
Although we experimented with capturing the beauty, we found most of the photos to be sort of the same.
Never-the-less, we had a great time visiting with our travel mates while drinking champagne out in the middle of the desert.
So what do you think of the sights near Uluru? Is it necessary to choose or can I love them all?