Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Rudely awoken by our 6:00 alarm. Dressed quickly and ate breakfast. Jumped in the Hilux and drove out to Uluru to the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku viewing area. Just made it in time for sunrise. As there were hordes of others at the first viewing platform we walked around to the second one but decided to keep walking down to ground level where we joined a much smaller group. It was a very clear still cold morning. The blue sky contrasted well with the red of Uluru as the east facing edge slowly bathed in the glow of the rising sun. In the distance to the left Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) changed from a silhouette to a misty pink shade as the sun began to shine on them. Behind us we could see the sun begin to shine through the trees.

The sedge grass in the foreground had an eerie look at this early part of the day.

Like everyone around us we take copious photos hoping for that special shot.

After a while the whole area is now bathed in sunlight but the temperature hasn’t risen yet. We chat with a few others, including a young indigenous guy who is from Canberra and carrying out an HR project to ensure local indigenous are adequately represented and made best use of in the local workforce. We move back up to one of the viewing platforms as the crowd thins out. We ask a keen photographer with his tripod set up to snap us and he kindly obliges.

Back into Yulara we drove to stock up on food at the IGA supermarket before returning to the caravan to make lunch. Soon after we are on our way out towards Kata Tjuta. We stop at the Kata Tjuta Dune sunrise viewing area carpark and walk up to the viewing area to take a few photos and learn a bit about the indigenous vegetation from the informative signboards. The actual rock formations are shadowy from their side unlike how they presented themselves at sunrise from Uluru.

We can also see Uluru in the distance, still looming quite large on the horizon.

Back in the Hilux we continue to drive to the west side of Kata Tjuta. As we approach we can’t help but be impressed by the domelike rock formations. We stop in the Valley of the Winds car park about midday. We gather our gear and head off on our first walk here up to the Karu Lookout. At first the track is orange red gravel then there is a paved section that is uncomfortably like walking on cobblestones in Europe. It doesn’t take us very long to reach Karu Lookout so we make the decision to continue on the longer walk to Karingana Lookout.

On hot days over 36 degrees this track is closed as it is easy to die from dehydration. Just as well we are there at the end of Autumn and not Summer. At first we are descending on a very rocky uneven track and the wind is very strong. The Valley of Winds is aptly named! Check out our hair in this selfie shot.

At a turning point we have more good views

and water is available but we are carrying plenty so continue on. The path narrows in spots and there is more vegetation here.

Not long after we come to a point where the blue arrow points us up an angled rock wall.

So up we go.

From there the path continues up the valley with plentiful vegetation to our right.

We are certainly dwarfed by the massive rocks as we make the final turn to the left

up to the Karingana Lookout. Here we are in deep shadow but look out to a magnificent view.

As we take it in a young couple also arrive. We chat for a while then begin our return trip.

Sometimes we have to scramble at an angle. When we come to the angled rock wall Karen takes a conservative approach (note the two walkers carefully making their way along a side route upwards) while I enjoy the downwards scramble carefully.
We note the pockets of vegetation that have sprung up over time after rain has been directed into the valleys below.

At a narrow point we also notice the large conglomerate rocks. On the way up we had been too busy moving along to have done so.

Back at the water stop we break for lunch on seats under a shelter. As we sit eating Karen notices lots of tiny zebra finches sitting in a nearby bush. Amazingly one even sits still long enough for me to photograph him.

One by one they are coming down to small rocks under the tap holding water for them to sip a drink. The females don’t have the patch under their eyes.

A yellow honeyeater of some type also comes but it is very skittish and hard to focus on before it flies off

disturbed by a wattle bird. Good looking, but clearly pushy.

We also hear, and then see, another bird, not sure but we think it is a grey thrush of some sort.

Lunch finished we resume our return journey back to the car park. It had been a longish 5.4kms but fascinating walk for a variety of reasons.

Back in the Hilux we drive to the Walpa Gorge car park. This is a shorter walk of only 2.6 kms. The terrain is very gravelly at first then becomes uneven solid rock.

Occasionally we cross bridges with a plastic grid on them. Plants are signposted here with information boards too.

At the end of the walk there is a raised platform looking to the end of the gorge. The contrast between the green shrubbery and the red rock is stark. Thanks to the kind Frenchman who offered to take our photo.

The walk back takes about thirty minutes but we are tiring a bit and the uneven ground makes it less enjoyable now. The bridges are a welcome relief with their even surface.

It is easy to forget to look up, but when we do we can see the occasional black streaks where rain flows in wet rainy moments. Quite a contrast to the red rock.

Back in the Hilux we have a snack and a drink and a brief rest before starting our return road journey. The rocks are fascinating to snap as we go.

Back at the Kata Tjuta Dune viewing we stop and I make the quick walk up to take some photos but the sun is almost finished shining on them.

However from the viewing area Uluru is a splendid reddish colour in the distance.

As I return to the car I take one last photo of the Olgas. Just like earlier in the day at Uluru the sedge grass has a wonderful feel to it as the foreground to the rock domes in the background.

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