Sacred Places: Uluru/Ayers Rock & Kata Tjuta/The Olgas, Australia

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.

Our first day of sleep deprivation. Up and leaving too early for the normal breakfast buffet, the hotel arranged for boxed breakfasts for us. Tom went down to get ours at the reception desk at 5 a.m. We were up at 4:30 a.m. Bags out by 5 a.m. We packed them the night before.

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

There were some beautiful and interesting views from the plane window. 7:46 a.m.

We left the lush green area of Cairns,

Now here's an interesting and colorful landscape. 8:20 a.m.

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.

Purple mountains, green plants, red soil, and white salt flats. 9:07 a.m.

There were purple mountains, green plants, red hued soils, and white salt flats,

The red center of the Australian Outback. 9:25 a.m.

and a mix of even more salt flats as we flew over the desert.

Uluru (also known as Ayers rock) from the plane. 9:30 a.m.

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.

Little Annoyances

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 bus parked. We have 45 minutes on this hike. We are at Kata Tjuta. In the local language, Kata Tjuta translates to many heads. We begin the Walpa Gorge Trail hike at 11:05 a.m. Mom's photo.

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.

Here we are hiking. It's windy. Tom's hat is flipped up, My pants are puffed up from the wind, again. Mom's holding her hat so it doesn't blow off. We're having a great time! We hiked just a little bit farther then turned around so we could make it back to the bus on time.

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?

Where a trickle of water flows, the grass grows. Walpa Gorge Trail in Kata Tjuta. Mom's photo.

This is some of the terrain of the area. Where the water flowed, the grass grew.

The red rock trail of Walpa Gorge in Kata Tjuta. Walking back toward the bus.

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.

We all had wraps at the Cultural Center in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. We were hungry.

After eating, Mom, Tom and I went on the Liru Walk toward the base of Uluru.

Liru Walk

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.

Another beautiful flower blooming because of the December and January rains.

Pink flowers stood out against the red rock. There were yellow and purple flowers, too.

After lunch, Tom, Mom and I took the Liru walk from the Cultural Center toward the base of Uluru. We saw the grasses that grow in a circular shape up close. 1:16 p.m.

Grass grew in rings. It was notable as we flew in. There were a lot of little circles on the ground.

Termites growing around some sticks. Liru walk at Uluru.

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.

The bush plum. Native tucker (food) can get a little sparse when it doesn't rain.

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.

Heading for shade on the Kuniya walk at Uluru. Janice Fritsch has the red back pack, her husband Tom is in front of her. Marilyn Montrastelle has the blue shirt on, Anna Maria Hollander is in front of her. In front of Anna Maria is Dorinne Peratalo in the green shirt.

The trail was an easy walk.

The circles represent the watering hole.

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.

Such a beautiful area. Looking out from the Mulitjulu cave on the Kuniya walk at Uluru.

Looking out from the cave, the landscape was pretty green.

This sacred place is the home of Wanampi (water snake). She is a strong woman and has the power to control the source of this water. This is a dependable source of water in Uluru.

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.

A native tree, the River red gum. It has white bark and is said to glow in the dark when the moon is full.

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 stairs going up to the visitor's center at the Desert Gardens Hotel. 4:35 p.m.

The Visitor’s Center at the Desert Gardens Hotel.

Sunset at Uluru

We needed to be at the bus by 6:20 so we could leave at 6:30pm for the sunset at Uluru. The surprise... champagne and snacks, a table full of them and it appeared that the champagne was unlimited. They also served mimosas. Tom toasting Uluru. 6:42 p.m. Tom LaForce, Ana Maria Hollander, Marilyn Montrastelle, and Michelle Wolfe.

Cheers to watching the sunset at Uluru.

Pouring the champagne. 6:42 p.m.

I’m pretty sure the champagne was unlimited and so were the snacks. They also made mimosas.

Ladies with fly nets. Alice White, Arlene Kotonias, Rita Giesler.

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 at sunset 7:07 p.m.

Uluru wasn’t dazzling on this cloud-covered night. Apparently she changes colors from moment to moment when the sun sets.

Tom trying to capture the scene. Also in the photo: Mike Croat, Jack Ramser. 7:22 p.m.

Although we experimented with capturing the beauty, we found most of the photos to be sort of the same.

The sunset on Uluru wasn't all that spectacular, but we had a great time talking with our travel mates. Tom talking to Mike Croatt. 7:30 p.m.

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?

Marie LaForce About Marie LaForce

Writer | Photographer | Explorer |Dreamer | Intentional Disciple of Christ

Comments

  1. Jan Del Calzo says:

    I have always wanted to see Ayers Rock, but doubt I ever will. So loved the story and pictures. Thanks
    Jan

  2. All of it is beautiful…I especially loved the pink/purple flowers!

  3. Karen Goedken says:

    You can and should love them all. I have had that question from time to time about my travels. Every place has its specialness. I have no favorites.

Share your thoughts

*