Our last visit to Uluru was just under 3 years ago and who knew we’d be back so soon!
Last time we visited was as part of our honeymoon which saw us travel up to Cape York and then across the Northern Territory. It wasn’t long after Shelly’s mum had passed away so Shelly’s dad and her sister flew in to Alice Springs and joined us on our visit to Kings Canyon and Uluru. It was the first visit to NT for all of us and it was great to be able to share it together after the not so great year beforehand. At the time we remember how we were all amazed at the sheer size of this huge rock sitting in isolation in the middle of nowhere. From that first glimpse, to us actually visiting the rock, we were awe-struck.
Well I can tell you that it doesn’t change just because you’ve seen it before! When we arrived a few days ago and caught our first glimpse of Uluru again, it was still amazing, it really is something else.Once you actually drive into the park and get close up, you really see how large Uluru is, it’s quite overwhelming. To see the caves and holes and ridges all around the rock is also quite something, you don’t really understand what it’s like from photos as they tend to show it as a relatively smooth rock.Uluru is 348m high, but more than 860m above sea level. It is over 9km in circumference and also apparently continues up to 5km or so down into the ground.
Uluru was actually formed by a type of sandstone, which came from compressed sediments laid down on the sea floor about 600 million years ago. Many years ago the Peterman Ranges to the west of Kata Tjuta were much taller than they are now. Over time sand and rock was eroded away and deposited into the surrounding plain. Later the whole area became part of an inland sea and sand and mud fell to the bottom of the sea, the weight of the water turning the ground beneath it into rock.About 400 million years ago, after the sea had disappeared, the area was subjected to massive forces and earthquakes. This caused some rocks to fold and tilt and you can see this through the sandstone layers of Uluru. The whole rock basically uplifted and tilted on its side. Over the years, millions of years, the softer parts of the rock has eroded away, leaving caves and holes all over it. This time we did the guided Mala walk with one of the Rangers. This is a free 2km tour which went for about 2 hours. Our guide was great, he was of Aboriginal heritage and it was interesting to hear his stories. We learned the story of the Mala people and the history and traditions associated with Uluru. We saw some aboriginal rock art and heard all about Tjukurpa (pronounced chook-orr-pa), which is their creation time. These are stories passed down through generations to teach the way of life or law.We learned of the Anangu culture and the significance of Uluru to them. To Anangu this isn’t just one huge rock, it’s a lifetime of creation stories, it’s where they lived and learned their ways of life and laws, it’s home to creation beings which have left their mark around the area. Anangu have cared for the land for thousands and thousands of years and it’s a very spiritual and significant place to them.To Anangu, the holes and valleys and caves etc are as a result of the journeys and actions of ancestral beings across the landscape. These creation stories tell the travels and actions of Kuniya (Woma python), Liru (poisonous snake), Mala (rufous hare-wallaby) and Lungkata (Centralian blue-tongue lizard). We were shown a couple of places where you can see the evidence of their activities and actions.
On 26 October 1985, the title deeds to Uluru and Kata Tjuta were handed back to the traditional owners, the Anangu (meaning Aborignal people of western desert). It was then leased back to the federal government for 99 years. The park is now jointly run by Anangu and National Parks and both work together to preserve the heritage and also educate people on the area.Clearly the place is very important and spiritual to Anangu and they have requested that people do not climb the rock, but unfortunately at this stage the ultimate decision on that comes down to the government and for that reason it is still open for climbing. Hopefully this will change at some point in the future. Last time we were there it was closed for climbing due to high winds and high temperature but this time it was open and there were plenty of people climbing. That’s their decision and they currently have every right to do so, but personally we wouldn’t purely out of respect to the traditional owners (and the fact that it’s one hell of a steep climb and I doubt we’d make it!)We were talking to the ranger about the climb and he told us a few stories of rescues he’s attended and also told of how people leave rubbish up the top or go to the toilet up there, cannot believe people could be so disrespectful. Of course then when it rains all of this is washed down into the waterholes in and around the base of Uluru that are a source of water for many animals in the area. It never ceases to amaze you to see the different colours of the rock. Last time we did the sunrise tour and it looked almost pink, but by later in the day it was a dirty rusty colour. Sunset turns it this really red colour which is like a scorching red. This time it was a little cloudy at times and this too added its own twist onto the colour.
We’ve been told that when it rains, there are waterfalls all over the rock and colour wise it can be purple or even a greenish colour. Would love to see it in full rain or storm one day, but of course rain is pretty scarce in that part of the country!The one thing we have noticed on both of our visits is just how many foreigners there are there in comparison to Australian’s. They are so excited to be seeing this icon and taking home the memories, yet most Australian’s haven’t even visited. It really is sad that Uluru is the most recognisable icon for outback Australia, yet majority of us are happy to just see it in photos. We are both so glad we have the opportunity to explore our great land.We didn’t have time for camel rides this visit but we did pay a visit to the camel farm. They’ve done a lot of work on this since our last visit and it’s looking great. We chatted with some of the workers and animals! They have a water buffalo and emu living there now aswell.All of the camels in this farm are wild animals that they catch and tame up. Every now and then they go out on camel hunts and catch some to bring back. It takes about 8 months to train them up and ones that aren’t trainable are let back free into the wild!
At present there are a few wild camels hanging around the place that they are trying to catch, the day before we were there they had caught the baby one.
When we first saw her we thought she was just grumpy as she kept crying out, but after we heard the story we felt really sorry for her, she’s obviously calling out to mum, so sad😞