Having flown into Uluru, we
booked onto a coach tour. There are a number of choices from the 45 seater coach to the
smaller operators, that included the sunrise and sunset at Uluru, and the
equally spectacular Kata Tjuta (formerly 'The Olgas'). Uluru still holds that
'spiritual allure' and not surprisingly, touches a number of people deeply.
the sunset spot, we had a great tip from our tour guide. He said to set our
camera up and take the first photo, just before the sun starts setting. Then
every four minutes, take another photo. The reason being is that your eyes
become accustomed to the fading light, but when you look back at your photos,
the changes become more apparent.
Of course the lucky ones may get some cloud
cover to heighten the dramatic effects of the setting sun. If you are there during the
rare occasion of rain, you get to see the rock turn black. We were privileged to
see Uluru during a sun shower and the rock take on a silvery sheen.
For those who can afford the time,
there are a number of walks around Uluru, the Cultural Centre and either one or both
walks at Kata Tjuta that are a must. We did observed the request by the local Anangu
community 'not to climb Uluru', the reasons being outlined not only in the local
brochures, but also at the Cultural Centre.
In the late morning, we were on the coach to
(located in the
Watarrka National Park),
enjoying the surprisingly depth of fauna, including the wonderful Desert Oak,
with the juvenile trees looking like giant feather dusters. Our ever observant
tour guide, did an impromptu stop, and scooped up the wonderful 'Thorny Devil',
one of the many non human residents in the region.
At Kings Canyon our tour had the choice of two walks, with the 'Rim Walk'
starting at sunrise being a spectacular way to soak up the beauty of the region.
We stayed overnight in the Resort, although for those on a budget there are
camping and lodge facilities. A tip for unwary travellers, Don't leave your
boots outside your cabin doors or tent, as for some reason the local wild
dingoes enjoy making off with them during the night.
Things to see on the walk include the sheer smooth canyon wall, the 'Lost
City' (a series of weathered rock buttresses), the fossilised prehistoric
ripples (this area was once under the sea), the views of the magnificent
sandstone domes and the cool sanctuary of the Garden of Eden.
If you are the first group on the walk, and walk quietly, you may catch a
glimpse of some
fauna, such as the Perentie,
Ring-tailed Dragon, and
Spinifex Pigeon. During periods of rain and wet weather, the lucky tourist
might catch sight of the Centralian Tree Frog and the
Desert Tree Frog, which despite the name, is not necessarily found in trees.
The one we saw were on the steps down into the Garden of Eden. Of course, Euros
and dingoes have been seen up on top of Kings Canyon, but remember, wildlife
tends to take shelter during the hottest part of the day, especially during
summer when temperatures can reach over 40 degrees.
For those planning the Rim Walk, be warned that the start of the walk is up a
steep incline. Once up, the walk is fairly easy with steps down into the Garden
of Eden. During the warmer months, make sure you take plenty of water, as is the
case anywhere you travel in Central Australia.
After the walk, our group headed back to the resort for a light lunch, before
our coach took us to our next destination Alice Springs...
For those thinking of
heading here, and maybe staying for 2 or 3 weeks, make Alice Springs your base. If
you have limited time, fly
'The Rock' and take a tour of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and
Kings Canyon, these iconic locations are well worth it. Of course it is not necessarily cheap to eat, drink and
stay at these places, but both Uluru and Kings Canyon do offer some choices
in the type and price range of your accommodation. For those not wanting to stay at the
main resort, you also have a choice of Curtin Springs (for those visiting
National Park) and Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge.
We found the coach tours a great way to get
around, and even here there are choices between the main players such as
APT Australian Pacific Touring and some of the smaller operators.
For those basing themselves in Alice Springs, it is important to note that
Uluru and Kings
Canyon is not
just down the road. It was funny to hear the tour guide regale us with some
of the stories of how some visitors to the region haven't a clue about the
vast distances between places. There was a Japanese tourist who wanted to book a room
in Sydney with a view of Uluru, and there are plenty of instances where tourists think they
can do Alice Springs to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon all in one