Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Uluru (Ayers Rock)

16th – 18th June

Uluru - Ayers Rock
Uluru - Ayers Rock
From Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta, Uluru

We left Alice a bit late in the day for the 300 odd kms to Kings Canyon and arrived there in the mid – late afternoon. We took the dirt road short cut and got our first glimpse of camels in the wild – a strange sight.
We did not have time to do the 3hr rim walk around Kings Canyon but did walk in through the bottom to have a look. It was not as spectacular as we thought it would be and thought we may have been a little spoiled by all the gorges and ranges we had seen so far.
Caroline and Graham had left a lot earlier for the canyon than us and were doing the rim walk. We parked next to their car and waited for them to finish. Caroline was very surprised to see us and we set off to look for a place to camp. Campsites are expensive around here and we settled for the less pretentious Kings Creek Station over Kings Canyon Resort. It was a good night and we caught up with a few beers. It was very cold overnight once more and the hot shower in the morning was very welcome.

Kata Tjuta - The Olgas
Kata Tjuta - The Olgas
From Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta, Uluru

All clean we set off for Uluru and Kata Tjuta, we said to our co-travellers we would meet them later in the day… somewhere... and camp with them once more. The drive to Uluru was again a very long one and we couldn’t wait for it to be over. On the way we stopped to have a look at Mt Conner (A lot of people think this is Uluru at first!) and then continued on the further 150kms to Uluru National Park and the purpose built resort town of Yulara. As we all know Uluru (or Ayers Rock) is the natural icon of Australia and when it came into view it was very difficult to take your eyes off of it.
We headed into the National Park and over to Kata Tjuta (Or The Olgas) first. They are not as well known as Uluru but still very spectacular. We took the obligatory pics and then headed off to the ‘main event’.

The road to Uluru
Uluru Outback Australia
From Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta, Uluru

After driving around the full 16km base of Uluru we stopped at ‘the climb’ and ummed and ahhhed as to whether we should have a go. The climb is long and very steep; there is a chain around 100m from the base that you can use to aid the ascent. Don’t be fooled though this does not make it that much easier and the climb was incredibly tough. Heidi is not too fond of heights and did very well to make it to the chain and even continued another 100m before saying to me that was enough for her. I was however determined to get to the top of this chain to see what the view was like from the top. Heidi passed me the camera (I already had the ruck sack with the water in it) and I continued on up to the top. The climb was intense, my heart was pounding out of my chest after 200m and the top was nowhere in sight. I ended up taking a few chains at a time and then stopping for a break. I have to say I have never pushed myself that hard before, my legs were shaking and I was sweating like mad.

The rock climb (Uluru)
The rock climb Uluru
From Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta, Uluru

After what seemed like forever I could see the top of the chain, a guy coming down the other way told me that the chain was not the top of the rock and that more climbing followed. I looked at the time and knew I would never have time for that too! I just wanted to beat the damn chain!! After a few more arduous meters I was there, I sat down, took some pics and drank a little, then set straight off for the precarious climb back down – I needed to make it back down in time for sunset!
With shaky legs and being very out of breath already the climb back down was not as easy as I would have liked. It took a very slow approach and a lot of time to make it safe to the bottom. Heidi was waiting with Caroline and Graham who had completed the climb a bit earlier than us (as ever we were trying to squeeze too much into 1 day!).
After I recovered we set off to watch sunset on the rock. This is one of the ‘must do’ things whilst you are here and there was a large crowd in the sunset ‘viewing area’. We took the obligatory pictures and watched the red rock go to brown then grey.

Uluru Sunrise
Uluru Sunrise Outback Australia
From Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta, Uluru

It was then off to camp in Ayers Rock Resort for the night.
After another cold night we awoke early and headed back out for sunrise. We decided to watch the sun come up behind the rock, which was a pretty special sight. We then headed back to camp and cooked our travelling companion’s porridge and made them a coffee, they acted like all their Christmas’ had come at once!! (They had no stove!) We bid Caroline a definite final farewell and we’ll hook up on Facebook soon.

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