August 8 - 10, 2012…Uluru, Kata Tjuta

I woke up very excited today!  I could not believe that today was the day that I would see Uluru!  We adjusted, tightened and oiled my chain, packed up the Finke River camp site, and got back on the Stuart Highway heading south towards the Lasseter Highway, Uluru turnoff.  The area was scrubbier than I thought it would be in the center of Oz!  The countryside exploded in color as you rode further into the center .  I found myself captivated by the raw beauty of the land and was anxious to catch my first glimpse of "the Rock!" (not Dwayne Johnson, on second thoughts a glimpse of Dwayne would have sufficed!…ha ha ha) "There it is", I excitingly radioed to Kev, although "the rock" looked longer than I pictured!  False alarm…Mount Ebenezer!  "Do you see it now?" I radioed to Kev as we continued down the highway through the rusty red sand dunes tufted in white spinifex grasses. Hmmm… I thought that Uluru was kind of a rounded rock and this rock has a flat top…Another false alarm…Mt Conner.  Ahh, Uluru you are a tease!  The highway seemed to be going on forever…It was beginning to feel like I was on a treadmill, the temperature was rising, the landscape beauty repeating, and, all I was waiting for was that first glimpse of Uluru!  The countryside is amazing out here!  The brilliant blue sky is cloudless, the desert oaks, umbrella bush, and bloodwood dot the countryside, and the black bitumen road splits the rusty, red earth. Some patches you ride past are on fire.  Control patch burning cleans the land of the old spinifex and protects the land from bush fires.  The smell of the smoldering charcoaled bush and trees trunks completes the picture and arouses the senses!  And there she is…Uluru…WOW…simply amazing! 

We checked in to the Ayers Rock Campground and decided to upgrade to a powered site…woo hoo, plugs! Karl, a fellow rider who we met at a petrol station just before turning onto the Lasseter Highway pulled in to the campground not long after us…ha ha ha funny we had not discussed where we were staying… and we enjoyed visiting with him.  We settled into camp and looked into the schedules for Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

The next morning Karl rode in as were were finishing up brekky and handed Kev his 3 day pass into Uluru…"Thanks mate"…you just saved us $25!  We rode into Anangu land to view Uluru and catch the 10am free Ranger tour around the rock.  She is absolutely breath taking!  The traditional landowners of Uluru are the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people.  In their language they call themselves Anangu , pronounced arn-ung-oo. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is Aboriginal land and is jointly managed by its Anangu owners and Parks Australia.  The Anangu refer to Uluru as a female, as she is a provider, comforter, and protector.  She provides an abundant food source around her base, a water source, and a shelter in her many caves  "This sacred land was created by the creation ancestors" and the magical and mystical aura is very much alive.  I was captivated by the passion and enthusiasm of the Ranger's knowledge.  We listened, watched, walked and talked our way around the base of Uluru in sheer amazement!  I don't know if I can actually capture the "feel" in words!  There is a definite sense of calm, power and protection that irradiates from this area.  It is beautiful!

That evening we booked a camel ride to watch Uluru change her colors during sunset.  I was privileged to ride Hercules the largest of the group!  "Hercules, Hercules!!!"…ha ha ha…had to say that!  Kev was on Lasseter, named after the highway he was caught on, and the smallest of the group!  What a blast…this is an awesome way to see Uluru at the sunset!  We rode our camel train for 2 glorious and fun hours up and over rusty red sand dunes and in and out of century old desert oaks…and of course all ended up with camel toes…ha ha ha, just couldn't help myself on that one!!…my bad!  Kev and I have decided that our next journey around Oz will be on camels.  It was that much fun!

My phone alarm sounded off at 5:30am, we were going to watch the sunrise over Uluru!  Matt and Loretta, a super fun couple we met at the camp site have offered to drive us…talk about lucky!  It is bloody freezing this morning and I'm taking the Onkaparinga along!  We were the first ones out to the sunrise viewing area and secured our spot.  Uluru was dark and mysterious against the dissolving starry sky. Then slowly the bus loads of foreign tourists trickled in.  They all marched in like busy ants along the pathways converging rhythmically at the viewing platforms in foreign tongues, flashing cameras, surprised expressions and palming peace signs!…Funny As!  Matt, Loretta, Kev and I enjoyed the performances around us, but soon surrendered to view in front of us.  Captivated we were once again drawn into the surrealism of Uluru's color change as dawn broke.  Grays, blues, purples, turn to browns, oranges and reds…and there she is in full glory!!!…AMAZING, once AGAIN!

Later that day Kev and I rode out to Kata Tjuta…The Olgas.  Kata Tjuta is Pitjantjatjara meaning "many heads.  This spectacular landform lies about 50 kilometers drive from Uluru.  Kata Tjuta is the Anangu men's sacred site under traditional law.  Kev and I walked up into the Walpa Gorge. The dramatic towering red rock formations, red rocky ground and surrounding baroness felt as though you could have been walking on Mars.  It had a very different presence and feel to that of Uluru.  We continued to ride around to various viewing areas and I pulled off the road to take a couple of photos…a ranger vehicle drove past, turned around and pulled off the road beside us.  I'm thinking maybe we should not be off the bitumen?  They rolled down their car windows and said "This is unusual, but we would like to ask you for a favor?"  I'm thinking OK we will get back on the bikes and back on the bitumen and be on our way!  I was pleasantly surprised.  "Would it be possible for us to have our picture taken with you?"  Wow…I was not expecting that!  The Park Rangers pulled their vehicle close to our bikes and we proceeded to pose for several pictures with them.  It was certainly a privilege to have our pictures taken alongside the Anangu Rangers with Kata Tjuta in the background!  We snapped a couple with our camera and they proudly stated how lucky we were to receive this opportunity. It was a special occurrence that made the sunset over the massive rock cropping another unforgettable evening.  That night we celebrated by cooking some Kakadu bbq'd marinated kangaroo loin.  I cut the meat into large cubes and cooked it in my oblong mess pans to medium rare. Served it up with buttered noodles, a fresh salad and a nice glass of red…Mmmmm tasty, tender and terrific!

Loretta & Cat enjoying an Uluru sunrise!

The free ranger guided tour at Uluru was exceptional!