Lewis' Exploring Oz

On and off the beaten track…………………….

Ayres Rock – Uluru = Amazing!

Posted by lewisfamilyexploringoz on October 23, 2011

Ayres Rock Panorama

Red, red dust at AR cp

Our setup at Ayres Rock

Sunrise at Ayres Rock

Hi Everyone,

We arrived nice and early at Ayres Rock campground, got checked in and headed off to our site.  We were given 2 sites to use like a drive thru as they weren’t sure we’d fit on a normal site.  We ended up moving as the two sites had a big tree in the middle and the one we went to had a big Oka vehicle on it.  They assured us that it shouldn’t be there so we had to wait for the owners, who had gone out for breakfast, to come back to move it!

Bit early for Daniel

Bugger - the climb is closed

Mala Walk

There’s not much wind at the moment and the lady at the desk suggested we go and climb now if we want but we decided to wait and set up first.  Lucky we did as after we set-up and had lunch the wind picked up incredibly and we got a direct hit from a wind funnel as well, with dirt and dust up the kazoo! It was a massive 38 degrees and humid as well so we spent the arvo cleaning out the dust, swimming, reading and blogging instead.  The air con in the van got quite a workout today as it just wasn’t cooling off.  It was still 33 degrees when we went to sleep so we left the air con on all night!  The sand is so red and we could see Ayres Rock from the lookout in the caravan park. This is way too cool! Next day we

The rock up close

Walking back from Mala walk

decided to get an early start to see if the climb at Ayres rock would be open.  There is a lot of controversy about climbing the rock and most of it is from do-gooder white people not the indigenous people.  The literature given out has the Indigenous People asking

Sunrise panorama was beautiful

us not to

Disappointed early climbers

climb the rock for both sacred and safety reasons.  The Rock has some sacred areas around it but the big push is regarding safety; they don’t want any

The Olgas up close

more people dying from climbing the rock. Statistics stand at about 39 deaths, only 7 from an actual fall off the rock and the others from heart attacks mostly after the climb. I have wanted to climb the rock for as long as I can remember, since I was very young.  I think it is something most Australians aspire to do at least once in their life and I was very excited about being here and

Valley of the Winds walk

Karu Lookout

After the sun came out

The Olgas rest up

The domes are spectacular

ticking another item off my

The Olgas Karu LO pana

Getting out of Dodge

bucket list! It’s not that I don’t respect the Indigenous Culture but I was born in this great country and I am Australian too and I believe the rock belongs to all of us! Okay will get off my soapbox now!  We made it out to the National Park nice and early, which costs $25 per adult for a 3-day-pass; children under 16 are free. You can get a 12 month pass

Start of the climb

First section no railing

for $32.50 which if the weather is in doubt I would recommend.  We

Second section has rail and is steep too.

stopped at one of the sunset/sunrise viewing areas and took a few photos as the sun was coming out.  We drove to Mala, an area where there is a short walk and also the climb to the top of the rock.  By this time it was after 7am and the climb was still closed. We drove back around to another sunrise viewing area and took some more photos; not hard really as it is a most magnificent place!  We had been told that they would re-assess the status of the climb at 8am so back we went.  The Ranger showed up for the 8am Mala guided walk and the climb still wasn’t opened so we decided to do the tour with the throngs of other people there who were waiting to climb the rock as well! The walk was fairly easy and she did explain a little bit about the

Rest time with a view

View from 2nd section

Mmm no rail anymore

Mala (also called the Rufous Hare wallaby) an almost extinct wallaby, which won’t be found in the park anywhere except in the ranger’s breeding program/enclosures.  At the end of the talk there was a huge push to sell NOT climbing the rock.  I gotta say there would have been 40-50 people just in our group and all of them wanted to climb the rock as that is why they were here.  Out of all of us I don’t think she deterred one single person and she really tried! We all ventured back to the parking area near the climb which was still closed so we

Olgas in back but still not at top yet

Great little hikers we have

Still not there yet but magnificent views

headed off to the cafe for a quick bite to eat.  We decided to go out to the Olgas (Kuta Tjuta) and take a walk around and then see if maybe the climb would be open later on.  It’s not just around the corner; it’s another 50kms from Ayres Rock (Uluru) to The Olgas (Kuta Tjuta). It’s also a bit tricky today as Daniel and Wade were play-fighting two days ago and Dan has hurt his leg and Wade his ankle.  In light of this we decided to only do the Valley of the Winds up to the first lookout.  The Olgas look absolutely magnificent when we stopped at the

Still going......

Caves and weathering

Last big hill....

viewing platform on the way out there.  It has been purposely built and would be fantastic for sunrise photos.  From here you can see the Olgas in a beautiful panorama.  We stayed for a little while taking it all in then drove further along to the start of the Valley of the Winds walk. The weather is so gorgeous and sunny with a little bit of wind which is a welcome relief from the heat.  We all donned our wide-brimmed hats, packed our water and off we trotted.  The walk is along a fairly easy, graded track with some uneven, rocky bits but for the most part

We made it to the Top

I'm pretty happy to be here

Where we've been

quite good.  The Olgas are in fact, 36 domes, composed of granite and basalt gravel consisting of pebbles, cobbles and boulders cemented by sand and mud.  They are huge and beautiful at the same time and even more so up close as we are walking through them.  As the sun moves around the colour of the rocks change from yellows to oranges and I’m told some reds at sunset too.  I think this will be a place Joel and I come back to later on without the kids.  The views from the lookout were just amazing! We shared this magnificent place with only

Food!

View from the top of the rock

Ayres Rock Cairn

one other family then headed back to the car and then the caravan park.  As we went past the National Park Office, we stopped and asked if the climb was open or likely to be opened today and they said it had been open since 1000am! Bugger, we should have checked again before we went to the Olgas – never mind! I was so excited that it was open so we headed back towards the Rock and parked up.  There were people climbing up and down and they looked like ants because the rock is so damn big! We all went to the loo, packed extra

Golf green, just need a club & flag

On our way down, Wade's first

Chain leads down.....

snacks and water as we still haven’t had lunch and its 12:30pm! To stand at the base of the rock and look up, it looks a long, long way.  There are no handrails for the first 20m then sections of it get quite steep and I was so glad there was a post and chain rail as you are quite literally, rock-climbing on a very steep angle.  I don’t think an oxygen tank would have gone astray either, bloody hell, I was huffing and puffing like an old steam train.  I was relaying this story to my mum, whose words of reply were “Well you are over 40 now!” Yeah,

Down we go

Dan found it easier like this

Nearly there...

thanks mum! We got to the top; well we thought it was the top but nooooo! It was just a resting platform, with the next sections having NO railing at all, just a painted, white strip indicating the safest place to walk. Yikes!  It was here that Wade’s brave facade was starting to crumble.  Unbeknownst to many, he doesn’t really like heights; yes I know he jumps off waterfalls, etc but only after Daniel has and he’s petrified and yet exhilarated at the same time!  He wasn’t keen to keep going but we sat and had a chat and asked would he regret not giving it a

Before the wind took the hats

Legend = carried backpack

Nice and steady

go seeing as we’ve come this far, it would seem such a waste to give up now. Alright he said; so we walked up the rest of the way with Daniel in the lead and Wade between Joel and I.  It was a bit spooky as there is NOTHING to hold onto and I’m not the greatest on heights either so I could sympathise with Wade.  This next section was at least 3 – 4 times as far as the first section with railing but luckily not as steep!  Just over half-way up there were some sections of actual grass growing, down in some of the depressions and one bit looked like it could’ve been a putting green, with a bit of a mow! It was awesome and also had some little purple flowers growing up here too!  There were pools of water and some interesting weathered-holes that could be caves or hidey-holes for some birds we thought.  We met another fella who was climbing on his own as his boys were too young to do the climb and his wife was looking after them at the bottom.  We made it to the top of the rock and found the cairn! They were the most awesome views and just the most amazing feeling to be this high up.  We could see the Olgas and Mt Connor from up here and the cairn indicated a few other places of interest as well and their general direction. I was so chuffed and even Wade had started to forget about the heights and bound up the last few hundred metres or so.  The fella we had met on the way up took a family snap for us at the top and we took one with my phone and posted on fb as there was full service up here!  We reciprocated by taking his photo to show his boys and then he left and we had the whole place to ourselves for about 20minutes.  It was truly

Ever buoyant

Magnificent views

We can see the bottom

an amazing experience!  We stayed up here and just breathed it all in! Then we broke out the snacks and drinks and re-charged our batteries for the steep decline down the rock.  If I thought climbing up was hard work then climbing down was no picnic either.  The sections without railing weren’t too bad and Joel even posed for a few golf-shots on the “green” on the way down.  I could feel a little blister starting to form on my little toe as all your body-weight is pushing forward to the tip of your boots because it is so steep.  We rested up at the top of the railed

Made it - Awesome

So excited

Awesome dude

Sun going behind a cloud

section and looked down.  By god it was going to be steep!  I had my camera around my neck but thought of putting it away a few times just to concentrate on the climb down.  There were quite a few parts on this section where we stopped to take a photo and to rest our feet. On one bit I had to hang on to the chain and step down like an abseiling move while Wade and Daniel scooted down on their butts.  We made it back to the bottom of the rock and just marvelled at our achievements!  What an awesome, awesome place.  By this stage we were ravenous so after rehydrating, we high-tailed it back to Yulara (the township at Ayres Rock) and searched for somewhere to eat lunch at nearly 4pm!  We ate at a cafe, and then picked up a couple of souvenirs made the post office then back to chillax at the van and go for a well-earned swim! Joel and I then left the kids at the caravan park to relax while we drove back out to the rock for some choice sunset photos.  We had a

Sun almost set = very nice

Sky colouring and the moon too

drink or two, set up the tripod and absorbed some of the peace and quiet, along with the other 100s out here for “The Photo”.  There was a bit of cloud just on the horizon so wasn’t sure of the late colours but we managed to get some good colours even if one a***hole just had to step into my shot! Ayres Rock is really different up close. There are so many erosion marks and holes that give it such character, not just a big, red rock! It is made up mostly of arkose, a coarse-grained sandstone that is rich in the mineral, feldspar.We met 2 couples next to us who were from Roxby Downs and were on a 6-day fly around trip, from Birdsville to Alice, the Kings Canyon and now Ayres Rock then back again.  They all worked at Olympic Dam and one of them was a pilot with his own plane, hence the fly around! They gave us some great advice about Coober Pedy and some of the other places we are still to visit.  The universe works in mysterious ways and we’ve been pretty fortunate to gather information as we need it from loads of different people. The sun is setting a lot later now and so we

Time to go....

Late arvo colours

grabbed pizzas from the Outback Pioneer Kitchen on the way back to the kids but we still didn’t eat until 8:30pm.   Whew what a day! We all slept very soundly this nite! The next day we had planned to take our bikes back to Ayres Rock and ride around the 10km base-walk but we were all knackered and several swims in the pool and just lazing about was the majority rule! We did some more washing and Joel made a yummy chilli con carne because tonight our friend Andy from Alice Springs is joining us for dinner.  He is quite a character and a bourbon hound just like Joel. The kids had a good early night and we stayed up and laughed and chatted with Andy until midnight. It was alright for us as we didn’t have to get up early but poor Andy had to be up at 4:30am – really felt for him!  The next day we had a late pack up and were back on the road again.  We stopped again at Curtin Springs but it was too early for lunch so we ended up having burgers at Erldunda Roadhouse instead. Food was good but took a while to get.  We drove on for a few more hours and stopped at the NT/SA border for the obligatory photos.  We then stopped at Agnes Creek Rest Area (#532 in Camps 5 book) which has no toilets but lots of open spaces and trees and camped for the night.  Joel went for a run, the kids for a ride before it got too late. We are off tomorrow to Coober Pedy.

Till Next Time

Ciao`

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