Indeed, the weather did not clear up for us last night. Most of the walk was spent under umbrellas and we almost skipped the “sunset viewing” completely.
We were on a bus tour with several other people, mostly older couples presumably on post-retirement trips. One young Korean couple are on their honeymoon.
Our tour guide was pretty interesting and knowledgeable. The park is legally owned by the Aboriginal tribe who has inhabited this land for at least the past 22,000 years, if not the last 40,000 years. We learned about some of their creation stories regarding Uluru (Ayer’s Rock). I don’t remember a lot of them because I’ve only heard them once and their a little involved.
Uluru in the rain
All over Uluru, there are various holes, caves, and other irregularities. There are stories explaining how all of these came to be. The gist of it is that at the beginning of creation, the world was flat and featureless. Slowly, landmarks were formed by the creatures residing in this time period. The Anangu (Aboriginal tribe) believe that they are direct descendants of these creatures, all of whom seem to be native Northern Australian desert animals. Wallabies, snakes, rabbits, etc. are the main characters of these creation stories.
Our bus stopped several times and let us out to walk around. We saw some waterfalls begin to form on the rock, an unusual sight in the last ten years of drought, but one that has been common this year. I overheard our guide say that it has rained every month since December.
Even with the heavy rainfall experienced this year, we are still lucky to have seen waterfalls coming from the top of the rock. Less luckily, the rainfall and cloud cover take away from the famous red rock and leave it more of a blue-grey color. Oh well, you can’t have everything, can you?
The tour includes canapés and wine or juice at the sunset viewing area. Alas, the weather was so miserable that our guide asked if we even wanted to stop and get out. In a worrisome moment, a loud someone toward the front of the bus said that we wanted to continue back to our respective hotels! Fortunately, a Scottish group took matters into their own hands before we could leave. Most of the group was not Australian and we figured that if we’ve come all this way to see a big rock and paid for this part of the tour, we may as well take advantage of it, even if it’s only for ten minutes.
In our third and earliest morning in a row, mom and I woke up at 4.30 to get ready for the sunrise viewing at Uluru. Unsure if it was still raining, but absolutely positive that it was cold, we bundled up and headed to reception to pick up our boxed breakfast before heading out to the desert.
The same people who were with us last night accompanied us this morning as well, give or take a few who didn’t want to face the chilly temperatures, drizzly skies, and/or wee hours of the morning. As the weather hasn’t cleared up, we had more of a general lightning of the sky rather than a visible sunrise. Most likely there were clouds at the same level all over the desert, but since Uluru and Kata Tjuta are the highest (and only) variations on the landscape, it looked like two clouds were only hanging over these two landmarks.
We journeyed on to Kata Tjuta (aka the Olgas), a surprisingly lesser known rock formation within the park.
Bright and early....well, more like cloudy and early.
While Uluru is one giant rock (that extends some three miles below the Earth), Kata Tjuta is made of two different kinds of rock that have split and broken over the past 640 million years. Thus, gorges and such have formed. We walked through the Walpa Gorge. The already cold, wet wind was funneled down the gorge to make quite a blustery walk. Undeterred, I wrapped my scarf around my head and kept on going. Hopefully, this decision won’t affect my cold for the worse. Even so, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity as I don’t know when or if I’ll have the chance again. Since I’m perfectly capable of walking down a rocky gorge, I may as well do it.
For dinner tonight we ventured to the big buffet at one of the other hotels on site. Man, oh man, was it delicious. I had pumpkin and feta salad with pine nuts. It might sound weird, but it was so tasty! I quite enjoy pumpkin. The remainder of the hors d‘oevres included cauliflower and bacon soup that was superb, a slice of camel meat that tasted lots like beef, cheese and crackers, and my very first raw oyster which tasted like the ocean. Entrees that I sampled included roasted vegetables, barramundi (an Australian fish) with mango chutney, chickpeas and cous cous in a sauce, and crocodile something Indian that started with an “l” and was by far the best of the entrée options. I passed up the kangaroo curry and another Indian dish as well as the duck and lamb. I’d love to show you a picture of this delectable smorgasbord, but I was too busy stuffing my face to get out the camera. Good thing I’ve been doing yoga five to six hours a week for the last ten months. All the pounds I dropped then are looking to come back in Australia at the rate they’re putting tasty food in front of me!