Snapshot … Uluru

Following my first Australian post a couple of weeks ago on Kakadu, I’ve decided what better time to do another on my homeland. Today’s travel destination is Uluru/Ayers Rock which is a large rock formation located in the centre of Australia in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Personally, I love the idea of this massive red rock, sitting in the middle of nowhere like the heart of my country (reminds me of my favourite poem, which I’ll share with you shortly). I’ve visited Uluru/Ayers Rock a couple of times – the first being back in 1986 and then again in 2000. And I’d love to return again! 

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Uluru/ Ayers Rock … Australia’s heart

It’s pretty easy to get to the site nowadays. You can fly into airports at either Ayers Rock itself or the nearby town of Alice Springs (by nearby,  I mean it’s about a 4 hour drive away). On both my visits I approached by road – once from the north and once from the south, where tourists will often be fooled into thinking they have arrived at Uluru only to discover they are looking at another large rock formation called Mount Conner (it’s flatter than Ayers Rock). Some of you may be wondering about now why I keep calling it both Uluru and Ayers Rock? It’s part of our government’s dual-naming policy. Many sites have both a “European” and an aboriginal name – these names are considered to be of equal importance, hence the dual-names. Europeans first came across the rock in the 1870’s and named it Ayers Rock.

Some facts about the rock (taken from http://www.parksaustralia.gov.au/):

  • Height: 348m above the desert or 860m above sea level (that’s 1,141 feet and 2,821 feet respectively). As the Parks website says, that’s higher than the Eiffel Tower or New York’s Chrysler Building.
  • Width around base: 9.4km (5.8 miles)
  • The rock is over 600 million years old and many claim it to be the largest monolith in the world (there’s some dispute over this but I imagine geologists could tell you much more about that!).
  • Despite it’s massive size, what is even more incredible is that the 348m you see above ground is nothing … the bulk of the rock is underground, some 2.5km of it (1.55 miles).
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The start of the two hour climb …
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Waiting for the sunset

It is still possible to climb Ayers Rock. However, Uluru is of immense cultural and spiritual importance to the local aboriginal people and they request that visitors respect that and refrain from climbing. It is still legal to climb the rock though, as many have done over the decades. A word of advice though, it’s an incredibly steep and slippery surface and the climb will take a couple of hours. There are been deaths due to heart attack and falling, so just be mindful of your physical condition. A great alternative is to take a couple hours and walk around the base. The textures and cut of the massive sandstone rock look very different and there are little waterholes and waterfalls (in the right season) to be seen. And at sunset you want to be away from the rock for the best view … Ayers Rock changes colour as the sun sets, from it’s usual burnt orange to red and purple-hues.

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Waterfalls at the base of Uluru / Ayers Rock
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Some of the shapes of Ayers Rock

While you are in the national park, you will also want to visit the neighbouring rock formation known as Kata Tjuta / the Olgas, which is about 35km away. Kata Tjuta is a series of rocky formations, the highest of which is 546m above the desert or 1066 m above sea level (1,791 feet and 3,497 feet respectively). There are climbs at the Olgas varying in length from 600m to 2.5km or you can brave the 350m climb to the summit.

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Kata Tjuta / the Olgas

And now, because I said I would share it, and because today is ANZAC day (a very important national day in Australia) … please find below my favourite poem about Australia, written by Dorothea Mackellar in 1908:

MY COUNTRY by Dorothea Mackellar

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

 

This post is part of my contribution to the A-Z Challenge for April 2016

Click here for a list and links to all my challenge posts!

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23 thoughts on “Snapshot … Uluru”

  1. Did you make this trip as a child, Kim? The faded snaps add so much character to the brown tones of the rocks. Loved the poem. So meaningful and is a perfect match for your photos. Have you seen the movie ‘Tracks’? I found it to be inspirational.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cheryl. I’m so glad you enjoyed the poem! Yep, these photos are from the first trip I made to the Outback, back in 1986. I returned in 2000 but haven’t included those photos as I quite like the faded old look at these pictures 😀
      I have seen the movie Tracks. I loved it! What an incredibly brave woman to take on such an amazing journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful poem, Kim. I totally recognize Australia in it. So well-expressed with feeling and honesty. I enjoyed visiting Uluru in my twenties and it did never cease to amaze me, no matter which “corner” (or with which light) I viewed it from. I decided against climbing it, out of respect for the Aborigine culture. Seeing the Olgas in your photos, brings back nice memories as well! You gotta love the clothing fashion of the eighties! 🙂

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Liesbet. I’m glad it brought back good memories for you. I love the Outback, the burnt orange of the dust is so stunning. I think that’s part of what I love about the poem – it sums up all of the elements of home but the line “I love a sunburnt country” is my favourite.
      Haha!! The 80’s were awesome; where fashion meant the less coordinated you were, the better! 😀
      I’m behind on my reading due to the long weekend here but looking forward to catching up with your recent posts tomorrow!

      Like

    1. Thank you, Lynne. I’m glad you enjoyed it (even the old 80’s photos!). I thought a post & poem on home was fitting given that today is such an important national day of remembrance for us Aussies 🙂

      Like

  3. Awesome pics as usual ! I am sorry I never went to Australia, I had to pick between NZ and that, and NZ won…. sorry! It is much smaller and easier to get a grip on…. perhaps Australia at some point though, who knows… 🙂 But for now I have to be content with watching your photos, it is *almost* the same thing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing photos Kim. My mum and dad climbed Ayers Rock many many years ago (when it was just known as that) and I can’t believe I’ve yet to see this iconic part of Australia. Hopefully one day soon. Beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do tend to refer to it as Ayers Rock, it’s hard to change when that’s what I’ve grown up knowing it as. But “Uluru” came in handy given I had to write about something starting with U 🙂
      I would like to return as well. When I was there in 1986 there was nothing around, just camp grounds and dirt tracks really. But then in 2000 … wow! What a difference with all the accommodation options and paved roads. I wonder what it would look like today …?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sometimes I wonder about progress. I know it’s inevitable and the tourism dollar is a huge factor but there’s something to be said for the simple experience. But still … there’s no turning back I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I completely agree, Miriam. The experience when I returned in 2000 lacked some of the magic. We slept in swags out in the open but it was in a massive caravan park type place! Not at all like pitching a tent when I was kid & having very few amenities. But, as you say, not much to be done about it now.

        Liked by 1 person

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