Monday morning seven weeks ago we went to the entrance of the Uluru national park. Which is the only national park NT residence have to pay entrance fee, and from a technical point of view, I’m a Territorian ;). The lady at the cashier counter was a bit irritated, once I asked for the annual park pass. Until I told her that I want to purchase the NT annual park pass (not the other one for the rest of the Australians for sure). Then she was even more confused, until I showed her my NT driver license and everything was suddenly again fine. So, after coming straight from the desert, now we’re definitely back in the tourist bubble and watching the sunrise, from the official sunrise viewing point, with hundreds of other people. After a short stop at the visitor centre, which was actually still closed – so I couldn’t ask any questions, and I didn’t want to pay 6$ for a bad (instant?) coffee – but sure Meg did, we went to the Mala car park and saw already all the people on the steel chain in a queue, not really going forward, but at least they were lined up on the slope. In essence we need to queue at the entrance gate and could start the hike at about 8 o’clock. Meg already gave up after a few metres that day. She joined the free ranger talk along the Mala walk instead. I didn’t queue up along the slope and didn’t use the chain at all. I was just walking left of all the people. The sand rocks had pretty good grip at all, and only at a small “step” I took my hands for stabilisation. After 40 min I was on the top. Actually it’s not that hard or complicated, just a bit exposed in the beginning, but that’s all. Probably it was a once in a lifetime experience to be on top of the world’s largest monolith, as they finally now closed the walk 20 days later for several reasons. The view from the top was definitely stunning. There were no clouds, so you had an infinite look to the horizon in each direction. Depending on the sun light, and the direction of where you look, the sand rocks have always a different appreance, but it’s still some kind of magic and hard to describe. I rested for about one hour on the top and enjoyed the 360 degree view before going down in less than 30 min. Just to clarify, I walked down, again left from the steel chain, which was actually even easier than going up, as it was not so steep…and no, I was NOT sliding down on the bum and holding on the chain. This behaviour actually scared me more, as these people weren’t in a position to control their speed, and I definitely didn’t want to get hit by them. The main issue was, that too much people with too less experience try to get on top of the mountain. I mean not all of them, there was a young bloke who had definitely his fun out there, and even overtook me on the way down…yeah, times going on and I definitely don’t get younger. Afterwards, I also did the Mala walk, while Meg walked along the Lungkata walk to the Kuniya car park, while I was driving there. Along the Mala walk you get an explanation of the importance of different parts of the rock for the traditional ceremonies of the indigenous people. Even if you just get a glimpse of that part of history, the different shapes of the rock itself are worth the walk. The walk ends at the highest waterfall of the NT, in case it will rain. When driving or walking around the rock, there’re different parts of the rock, where no photos are allowed due to the cultural significance for the traditional owners. If you don’t want to walk 10km around, you can hire expensive bicycles (~50$ for a few hours) and join segway tours for even more money. The Kuniya walk is a short walk with a lot of history. Several dreamtime stories are “written” on the rocks and interpreted by the Aborigines. The rock is really nice, it has several features and depending on the time of the day it appears in several different shades, which makes it definitely a very special place.
In the afternoon we went back to Yulara, and attended a free talk held by an indigenous man in the local art centre about the history of Ulura, flora and fauna and the geology. Actually it’s a former river bed, which was tilted by 90 degrees. The different layers are deposites of the former river bed which were formed in a time span of 150 mio years from North to South. Also in the red centre Aboriginal people apply fire as a farming practice. This is done predominantly in the winter. Due to the ground frost, there’s some water available. Once the seeds are released due to the fire, they utilise this small amount of water and new plants and bushes can grow. If there’s a long drought of several years, the trees are adopted in such kind to survive, that they kill one of it’s own branches and use its nutritions in this bad times, until there will be again water. The same is for kangaroos, in good times the female has three children at the same time, a big one which jumps already next to her, one in her pouch and one in her belly. In bad times, she will kill the one in the pouch and put the one in the belly on hold, just to maximise the probability that the oldest, and therefore strongest child, will survive. This adoption of floar and fauna makes the desert still alive. After the talk we got finally a refreshing swim in a pool of one of the resorts next to the public library, as it was not fenced or so, it wasn’t a big problem to get into it. We need to hurry up a bit, as we went back into the park for the sunset. We stand again with the other hundreds of people to glimpse a view. But I’ve to admit that this is one the most beautiful view at all of the rock. During dusk the lights and the appearance changes a lot…and to experience the atmosphere is pretty nice. When I enjoyed that moment I met again Norbert and his Chinese wife and their daughter. We just briefly saw us the day before at Kings Canyon, but at this day we just talked a lot and exchanged our experiences, surprisingly he has a German passport, as he was born in Germany, but actually has an Australian background, and his other daughter from Canada now also tries to get a German citizenship, as she want to relocate to Germany. It was a very interesting connection to listen to.