Each day was an early rise, with day 2 waking us up at 6am. Not bad though, as the stars were still out and it was a lot of them. Perhaps more than I have ever seen in my life and I had plenty of time to appreciate each one, as I lied awake throughout the night on the ground, on a swag with no pillow and a snoring Dutchman to my left.
And what delicacy should I wake up to for breakfast? Toast, canned fruit and tea. Perfect to help me ready for today's 10km walk. For a moment I forgot if I was camping or just homeless.
Kata Tjuta also known as The Olgas relatively close to Uluru. Considering how much land Outback Australia actually consists of, it is a pure miracle that these two are even within eyeshot of each other much less driving distance.
The trails here are a bit rockier than the previous days hike, even causing the older traveler to sit this walk out. Kata Tjuta is about three dozen huge stones sticking out of the earth. Except for one huge climb and rocky paths, it is pretty man a gable with enough water.
Learn the children's story and more photos of Kata Tjuta.
Some said The Olgas was more impressive than Uluru, which is a matter of opinion I suppose. I would agree that the Valley of the Winds Walk certainly is more interesting than the Uluru Circuit.
Having finished the Kata Tjuta Walk before noon, we headed off to Uluru. First stop, the cultural center. Driving to Uluru is a funny thing. A big tease really. The roads wind there way back and forth to the Rock giving you brief glimpses between mounds of sand and trees.
Each time you see Uluru from the bus, it gets a bit bigger than the last time until finally, there it is. This huge rock that, until now, you have seen on countless postcards and finally are seeing in real life. Standing in front of this huge and historical rock the only thought that comes across is "Wow, I am standing on the doorstep of history and greatness. Oprah visited here."
Before going to the first section of the Uluru walking path you have a visit to the Cultural Center. This is for the best as people should know why they are appreciating the thing that they just spent $300 or more to go see. It isn't like we blindly follow some fictitious idol thousands of miles across the ocean to take pictures of things we are told are impressive. Right Oprah?
After the Cultural Center, its time for the first section of walking path around Uluru, the Mala Walk. Our Tour Guide was great at his job and this was evident by his vast knowledge of geology and the history of the lands he took us through. So much that non-aboriginal people aren't allowed to know, so we stick to learning the children stories.
Also find the full set of Photos from the Uluru Base Walk.
As for our tour, we were then off to the sunset over Uluru which included the next meal. Oh what could be in store?
Apparently the word got out that Oprah was here because this place was packed with tourists. Just crawling with them and everyone was there to take the exact same photograph. One that I also took, but am not proud of. Quite embarrassed really. I will put it up, but not yet. You have to wait until the end. Gotta pay to play. So what's for dinner?
Noodles. Wow, who'd have guessed that on a tour of Uluru I would be eating like a college student.
At least the view is better... except for the 15 coach buses worth of tourists blocking the view and asking me to take their photo.
The real interesting point is that every other tour bus for a thousand miles was at this very same sunset viewing area. That means the folks who forked out serious cash for a Champagne Sunset Tour at Uluru are sipping bubbly next to the backpackers who are chugging XXXX Gold and posing like Charlie's Angels for photos in front of the Rock.
It is a beautiful contrast but we do hope that doesn't spoil your mood Doctor.
To my utter delight, we also camped out under the stars that second evening, but instead of camping at a million acre cattle ranch, we were at the Yulara Resort. Not the rooms Oprah stayed in, rather the camping section located far, far away from the resort area. Our site however, was only a few yards away from showers, toilets and powered facilities. Lucky us.
Then after laying down and looking up, I was able to find something that looked familiar. The Southern Cross is like the North Star of the Southern Hemisphere and in this photo you can see it very well. Look at the tip of the tree in the middle, go straight up and you see a group of stars that make a cross. You can find the Southern Cross on the Australian flag as well as tattooed on any true blue Aussies arm, generally best viewed while he is slamming a XXXX Gold.
First Impressions of Melbourne