Sunday, 22 May 2016

Half-lap Day 20: Uluru

Everyone woke up really early – I could hear dogs barking which I thought was strange, I hadn’t heard that here before, and by 6am all of us were awake and chatting which is very unusual. Later when I heard about the earthquake (6.1 on the Richter Scale, at 4am this morning, a few hundred kilometres from here) I wondered if that is what had disturbed us (and the dogs). None of us felt the quake, but the energy in the air and ground would have been different afterwards and animals would have been behaving differently.

LiAM and I went back up to the main campground lookout to see the sunrise, this time the rock turned pink and then lit up as the sun came over the horizon. Tony and the girls watched it from a sand dune near where we are camped. Once again it was so quiet up there, after the sun had risen though there was much talk of the earthquake. I saw my friend from the day before and we talked a bit more about the walk around Uluru and our plans for the day.

We had breakfast, played cards and got Tony and Caitlin ready to go for a bike ride around Uluru. Caitlin met another girl a little younger than her and spent time chatting with her about horses and travelling. Tony and Caitlin headed off with their bikes around 10am, LiAM and Millie played on the iPad in the tent, and I did some dishes and tidied up the campsite a bit.

The bike ride was much easier than the walk and they both really enjoyed it. They said it was the easiest ride they’ve done so far, and the long bit of the walk didn’t seem anywhere near as long on the bikes. When they finished they let us know, and we got ready and caught the shuttle bus (we just missed one by about 30 seconds so waited 15 minutes for the next one) to the camel farm where we met the others. We wandered around and looked at the many many camels in their pens, then the kids asked if they could do a short camel ride. They were happy to go on their own, so the three of them rode in a camel train around a big yard, with Uluru in the background. They seemed nervous but excited, and they all really enjoyed it.

Once they were off and said goodbye to their camels we looked at the baby camels (so cute!) and then bought some food to feed some of the other animals – kangaroos (who stayed up the back of the pen and weren’t interested), ducks (who were very keen), an emu (who pecked the food right out of our hands and was quite terrifying until we got used to him – I spilled my entire first handful when I screamed (a little) and pulled away as he pecked at my hand – but I tried again and we found it was easier if we just had a few pellets and he was good at just picking them up one at a time, if we had a whole handful he’d try and get it all at once and that was scary. LiAM’s hand got pinched a little by his beak, but he tried again and it was all part of the experience) and a water buffalo (who really really loved the food and kept putting his head over the fence towards anyone who looked like they might feed him – he used his long bluish tongue to lick the food from our hands, so we all ended up feeling rather slobbery. So cool to feed and pat him though and have a really good look at his horns – they looked like metal, but are made of hair).

Our food was eventually all gone and we went back to the gift shop. Millie bought a plush camel, and the others bought magnets or keyrings of the camel they had ridden. I bought a tub of natural fly repellant, the staff said it was incredible and I’d heard other people talk about it too – it did make a different, the flies still buzz around but don’t land and stay on our faces.

We eventually said goodbye to the camels and went back home for some lunch. We had eggs and baked beans and spaghetti, while Tony watched the football and Caitlin talked to her new friend, and then I took the kids for a swim. It was nice to swim on a warm day, although the water was still freezing. We didn’t swim for long as we wanted to head out to Kata Tjuta and needed to be there well before sunset.

We quickly got ready and drove out to Kata Tjuta – about 50km. It was cool to see it up close after seeing it on the horizon for the last several days. I’d forgotten how many different rock formations it is, and it’s so much more impressive up close than from a distance! We drove to the Valley of the Winds and did the short walk to the first lookout. I had a little dummy spit on the way as I felt like everyone was complaining every time we walked anywhere and it was spoiling my walk and I wanted them to enjoy it as well… I was quite embarrassed afterwards, I really had wanted to avoid doing that, I don’t want the kids to feel they HAVE to do something just because it’s what I want to do. Everyone decided to keep walking and we talked about it a bit, the kids said that they aren’t complaining so that we will stop walking, it just helps them feel better when they are tired, and they are usually happy to be there. I was really embarrassed then because that’s usually how I feel when I’m walking too ‘why am I doing this, it’s too hard’ and then feel great when I stop to rest and look at where I am or reach my destination or whatever. So we all felt a bit better afterwards and I promised I won’t try and fix things if they talk about how hard the walk is.

The lookout was nice, I’m glad we made it. A view further in to the Valley of the Winds, and a pretty view back the way we’d came. With the blue sky the red rock looked so vibrant, especially with the late afternoon sun. As we walked back to the car, the sun on the rock changed so much, into a very brilliant red, as it sank behind a nearby hill and perhaps a few clouds. We thought that was the sunset, and it was quite beautiful, then looked at the time and realised there was still 8 minutes until the sun actually disappeared. We jumped in the car and zoomed around to the sunset viewing area and were there in time to see the last rays of sun on Kata Tjuta, even more impressive with the wider panaroma from being slightly further away.

We had decided to eat there before driving back, so made sandwiches and hot chocolates and ate at the picnic table. While we were eating the moon rose from behind the rocks – it was almost dark by now so it looked amazing, this bright light silhouetting the rocks from behind. We took a few extra minutes to soak up the sight, then packed up and headed back towards Yulara. The national park closes at 7.30pm at the moment, and we passed through the exit at 7.27. Heaps of time.

A very quiet night back at camp, Millie played with her camel (who had been having a nap all afternoon), Caitlin talked to a friend on the phone and LiAM played on the iPad. We were in bed as quickly as we could be and I read until I was falling asleep.


  1. gerard giraffe22 May 2016 at 12:35

    did the same thing 3 years ago...caught the shuttle..rode a camel called CHESTER...feed the other animals..brought a camel (a small one)..went to the Olgas which i thought was even more spirtitual than uluru..

    if u go to KINGS CANYON,say hello the man with the big hat...

  2. The Olgas are definitely more involving than Uluru, it's just massive and impressive, the Olgas have a lot of character. Saw the big hat at Kings Canyon and I loved the photo you sent me. Bring your (small) camel next time you visit and it can meet Millie's.