Part five, The Red Centre Way, ULURU, Northern Territory.

After our 2 night stay at Kings Creek Station we headed off to our final destination, Uluru. Our route followed The Red Centre Way turning south before we hit the Lassiters Highway. However prior to reaching the highway we drove past a popular 24 hour rest stop which was packed with cars and campers at one end, then noticed police cars and police tape and the SES at the other end. Apparently they were out looking for a 64 year old SA woman who had a barney with her husband while they were out walking and he walked off one way and she the other, needless to say she got lost. We heard later on in the afternoon that some Aboriginal trackers eventually located her 10km from camp, she was dehydrated and spent a night or 2 in the bush, but was otherwise OK.

As we were driving along Lassiters highway and we approached Mt Connor (known locally as Foolaru), only one of us got fooled into thinking it was Uluru, I’m not mentioning any names Mum, am I………. Anyway Mt Connor is located east of Uluru and is on land owned by the Curtin Springs cattle station. It is about 859 metres high and is a flat-topped and horseshoe-shaped mountain and is part of the same rocky substance thought to be beneath Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

Atilla, AKA Mt Connor AKA Foolaru!!!!

When we finally did see Uluru we were all spell bound and could only manage to say “Wow, its pretty big, huh!!!” It sort of has that stupefying effect on you……… Not long after we arrived at Yulara campground just after lunch, the campground is the only camping accommodation within 50kms of Uluru and you therefore have to pay accordingly (translation pay through the nose). It is set up as a caravan park with a pool, playground and amenities with both powered and unpowered sites. The only other option was to stay at Curtain Springs which is well priced but at 100km away from Uluru is a bit far.

After we had set up we decided to postpone dinner and head down to the sunset viewing area for the sunset photos. We were down there by 5pm with sunset being at 6pm and already there was a lot of people, but we found our little patch of land and sat and waited for the amazing change, the colors of the beautiful sky paired with the many different colors of the rock makes for some spectacular photos, so many photos!!! After we dragged ourselves away from the rock we headed back to the van for dinner and the heater!!!!!!

Uluru at 5pm.
Less than 20 minutes later.
Mum at Uluru.
The beautiful colors of the sky behind the rock.
Bec and I at Uluru.
Best vantage point away from the crowds and over the trees.
Rare photo of Nik and I.

The next day we all awoke early as we were very excited as today was the day we were going to Uluru. We had decided to firstly go and get some education about Uluru, its traditional owners and the reason as to why it is preferred that we don’t climb. We started by doing the 10am Mala Walk which is a 2km walk with a ranger, our ranger was Mick and had been at Uluru for 6 years. He was very knowlegable about the area, the traditional owners and their culture. He was able to tell us a few Tjukurpa stories which explained certain features of the rock and the reason why the traditional owners don’t want us to climb the rock. Tjukurpa or Creation Time refers to the many Ancestors (supernatural beings) who created our landscape and also tells us how the world became the way it is today, as well as laying down the law for human behaviour in relation to other humans, animals and plants and also how to look after the land. One of the many things  I have learnt today is that the term Dreamtime is deemed inappropriate as it has nothing to do with dreams. One of the Creation stories he told us about referred to ancestors planting their ceremonial pole on top of Uluru to mark the beginning of one of their ceremonies or inma. The path these ancestors took is the same path that many tourists take today to reach the top of Uluru, therefore if you climb the rock you are offending the traditional owners by walking in the footsteps of their gods. So the traditional owners would like us to respect their people and culture and ask us not to climb the place they worship. The traditional owners also believe it is extremely dangerous and believe that too many lives have been lost and therefore too many families suffer grief. As parents Nik and I told the girls it was too dangerous for them, with Bec and Zoe saying they wouldn’t have climbed anyway due to it being disrespectful. Nik and I also decided individually not to climb purely to be respectful to the owners. As Nik said he would be annoyed if someone came onto our property and did something Nik asked them not to. We have nothing to prove by climbing the rock and felt being here was pretty special and awesome in itself. So after our walk we went and had lunch in the picnic area then headed to the Cultural Centre where we ended up staying for about 2 hours. The displays, the stories, the explanation of the symbols and the 1980’s documentary film had us all enthralled with the kids sitting and watching the whole 45 minutes of the documentary with us, we certainly made ourselves comfortable in the theatre!!!! We then moved along to the gallery, where I wandered through the shop itching to buy a painting (however nothing ‘jumped’ out at me) and the girls sat mesmerised for another 30 minutes and watched 2 Aboriginal ladies painting. After a full on day we headed back to camp, got our backpacks ready for tomorrow while Nik went and did some star photography with Uluru as his foreground.

Mala Walk with Ranger Mick.
The crescent moon, Venus and Jupiter.

The next day we were up and organised at the rock by 9:30am, we were doing the 10.6km base walk around the rock. We set off and maintained a leisurely pace all the while staring at the rock. I lost track of the amount of times I tripped over things and walked into the girls because I was looking at the rock instead of where I was going. Needless to say we all had sore necks from looking to the right for 3 hours. Whilst many photos of the ‘whole’ rock are taken from the east side we were all in agreeance that the west side was by far the more beautiful close up. Our favourite part was Kapi Mutitjulu a permamnant water hole where the Creation Story of Kuniya, the python woman occurred. Many of the crack, crevices and shapes of the rock show the story and it is was great that there was a sign at the base pointing out the storyline. It was a quiet place too and we all spoke in whispers as if we were intruding. Part of the sign read

‘This is a good place to listen to country.
Take a minute to sit down,
close your eyes and breathe deeply.
Enjoy this moment.
Listen to the birds.
Can you hear water trickling?
Concentrate on the wind.
Can you hear it? Feel it?
Kuniya is a strong woman,
this place has a strong feeling.’

We were all feeling the vibes until Jesse decided to open a packet of vege chips and completely broke the silence!!!!! We finished our walk watching the rock, pointing out what looked like a whale, another one a turtle and another one a pig. Unfortunately these were in an area that no photos was requested so we couldn’t get photos, you’ll just have to go and see for yourself!!!! After a tiring day we headed back to camp to get ourselves ready for the next destination on our OZLAP………

The sign helping us decipher the story of Kuniya.
Kapi Muttjulu waterhole.
Rock formation at Kapi Mutitjulu, notice the top hole is the shape of a heart…….
West side of rock near Kapi Mutitjulu Waterhole
Spreading ourselves out along the walk!!
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Aboriginal Art around the base.
The kids surfing on the base walk.
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Can you see the whale head????



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