Ayers Rock (Uluru)

Friday, Oct 29, 1999 at 00:00

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

It was through talking to people that we learned a few tricks about travelling to Ayers Rock (Uluru). The National Park entrance fee is $15 per adult and is valid for 5 days. We heard that Curtin Springs collect second hand passes that haven't quite expired and provided it corresponds to your vehicle type (4WD, 2WD, bus, motorcycle, bike etc) then they'll sell it for $5. Seems fair enough.

It took us nearly all day to get to Yulara on Friday 29/10/99 as there'd been more rain overnight and during the day which made it hard going on the Old Gunbarrel Road (from Kulgera - Curtain Springs via Mulga Park HS). To make matters worse, the "cheap" Uluru tickets we'd heard about weren't available (they'd sold out). When the phone came into service just out of Yulara we sent our email (hoping to get some work to make the trip to Sydney worthwhile). Not more than 5 minutes later the mobile rang and David had a job waiting in the city. It was still raining and miserable and we mistakenly thought that it was not worth going to Uluru today.

No camping is allowed in the National Park but there is a camping ground at Yulara, the township for the Ayers Rock region. The entire place is called Ayers Rock Resort and has absolutely everything you could think off... bars, restaurants, cafes, bakery, supermarket, clothing shops, souvenir shops, photo lab, and every imaginable style of accommodation starting at $26 per night for a camping site!

Adding up the cost of camping and park entry opted for bush camping but had to go a far way out of town and over a few dunes to get out of the "No Camping Allowed Zone". Can't complain though - we had better views of Uluru and Kata Tjuta that even those paying $500 per night in the best resorts and we were still in mobile range.

The following day was still overcast but we went touring around the touristy Yulara Resort, had film developed and talked to people. Someone showed us their photos they took yesterday and we were amazed at the rain pouring off the rock and the sensational photographic subject Ayers Rock is during rain. Make sure you don't make the same mistake as us - this was a real sight!

Anyway, we bought our two $15 passes and entered the National Park. Ayers Rock is another 13km away from Yulara so unless you are on a bus tour or have your own car its a bit far to walk. Ayers Rock is huge, I'd forgotten how much. The road around the base of the rock is now tarred and you can can get great photos from just about anywhere.

There are two designated sunset photo areas, one for bus groups the other for cars or 4WDs. Although it was overcast it was quite humid and we didn't feel much like walking the whole way around the base of the rock and we'd hoped. Instead, we'd heard there was a significant amount of water in the waterhole so we took a short stroll to Mutitjulu. There was a group of a dozen little aboriginal boys, the Anangu people. They literally jumped all over us, pulling at our clothes, grabbing our cameras, snatching our notebooks, one danced around with David's sunnies on and two others picked and laughed at my shaven underarms.

When the novelty of us wore off, we saw the boys hurling rocks at a goanna. They'd already tried to break into our car and set off the alarm when they opened the door and now they were tormenting an animal for sport. They ruthlessly killed it with stones and sticks and left it for dead while they ran off to talk to more tourists. I was really cranky - all the signs and info centres impress upon visitors the importance of this land to the aboriginals. If this was true then why were these kids just toying with the animals and not taking their catch home for dinner? I could see no difference between these kids and any others. The cultural centre near the rock is full of stories about how the local people pass on to the younger generation all the bush tucker and traditional laws but all we saw was these rotten kids, and another black man fanging an old car over shrubs in the bush behind the cultural centre. So much for traditional.





We spent 2 days and 3 nights in the area and climbed the rock, walked the 8km Valley of the Winds walk at the Olgas and watched 2 sunsets. There are enough walks and activities to spend another full day or even more but we'd had enough. Now that we are turning east back to Sydney we won't be going to Perth this year. Our original plan was to drive out the back of the Olgas to the Gunbarrel.

Our biggest dilemma now is how to plot a route back to Sydney without backtracking over any roads we've already done.

Monday 1/11/99 we drove back from Ulura - Alice Springs to restock (a full day's drive) and get 4 new tyres.

Our agreed plan was to return east via Fraser Island. To get there we were going over the Sandover Highway to Mt Isa and down part of the Matilda Highway to Longreach, to Carnarvon Gorge and finally out to the coast at Harvey Bay and onto the car ferry to Frazer Island for sun, water and fishing before hitting the madness of Sydney.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Always working not enough travelling!
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