We were picked up from the Elkira Hotel this morning at about 8:00. The birds were singing and their songs were absolutely beautiful. Some of the singing sounded like a call and response. I wish I could have seen them, but it was great to just listen to them as we waited for the bus.
On the way to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, we passed Mount Connor …
…and a Salt Lake.
You may notice a lot of green in some of the photos. That is because there has been a rare amount of rainfall (both in Alice Springs and around Uluru). This area has reached the usual yearly amount of rainfall by April this year and it has continued to rain.
The tour guide took us on the following walks.
- Mala Walk
- Mutitjulu Waterfall Walk
- Kata Tjuta Waipa Gorge Walk
- Aboriginal Cultural Center
Jerry, our guide, told many stories during the walks. There were way too many and detailed for me to remember. Besides I was too busy trying to take photos. So here are some random photos and collages of photos with occasional words to explain them.
There were many beautiful benches around the area. I believe the same person created them.
The second bench was in the Cultural Center where we were not allowed to take photos. The woman behind the desk gave me permission to photograph the bench as she stood by me.
The rock formations were so beautiful.
I read some information about cave pictures. In the very beginning when the Mala ancestors arrived at Uluru nyiinka (bush boys) camped in a cave. A niinka is a boy at the important stage of life where he is ready to learn to become wati (man). Niinka are taught by their grandfathers and separated from the rest of their families for this period. Traditionally this stage could last several years until a boy proved his hunting skills, self-reliance and discipline.
When they weren’t out hunting, nyiinka stayed in a cave. This period has the same objective as high school: students learn a variety of skills and subjects to enable them to survive on their own as adults. I took these photos from the cave.
We walked as a group for a while and then Jerry told us to continue on our own when he went to get the bus. He told us that we were walking through a sacred women’s space and that we were not allowed to take any photos. We all respected what he told us.
.Then we drove to another spot and walked to the Mutitjulu cave. The information said that at night around the campfire, generations of the people told stories, teaching the children about this place and painting on the rock. Today these stories are still kept and handed down to the children. Paddy Uluru remembers painting here as a young boy around 1930. This is Tjukurpa country..
The colors of the cave drawings come from a variety of materials. Tutu (red ochre) and untanu (yellow ochre) are iron-stained clays that were very valuable and traded across the land. Burnt kurkara (desert oak) provides pueku (black charcoal), and tjunpa/unu white ash). The dry materials are placed on a flat stone, crushed and mixed with kapi (water).
We waked to a sacred waterhole.
This is the story of Mutitjulu: After Kaou Mutitjulu defeated Wti Liru, her spirit combined with her nephew’s and together they became Wqnampi (water snake). Wanampi lives in this here and has the power to control the source of this precious water.
Kapi is sacred. This is the most reliable kapi (water) around the base of Uluru. In traditional times Anango would sing out ‘kuku kuku’ and Wanampi would release the kapi and let it flow into the waterhole.
As with all water sources in the desert, this waterhole is a place of great respect and treated as sacred. Swimming or scaring the animals away would threaten the survival of the people. Today wildlife still depend upon it for survival.
This is a photo I like.
I had a great surprise on the way down from the waterhole. Betsey, Susanna, and others from our Monk’s and Mystic’s Dance Workshop were at the bottom of the hill and they were dancing. I ran up to them and we all hugged each other. What a treat. I sure wish I could have stayed and danced with them, but the bus was waiting for me.
The bus took us to the place where everybody watches the sunset and we had a BBQ. They served hotdogs and some salads. I don’t really like hot dogs, but they had kangaroo sausages. They were actually pretty good. They also served champagne and red wine.
The sunset is an interesting happening. I stood and watched as it changed colors. It did get redder and redder and then when the sun was down, it turned brown.
Here are the photos.
I have seen photos of much more spectacular sunsets at Uluru.
There are signs posted around Uluru that ask people to respect the Aborigine people and this sacred site by not climbing Uluru. Nevertheless, about 25% of the people who visit this beautiful, sacred place still choose to climb.
It is not a law. I have been told that the Aboriginal custodians of Uluru do not traditionally make laws about behavior. I have also been told that if the number of people who climb drops to 20%, the board (which is dominated by white people) will change the policy and make a rule about this. Some of it has to do with still wanting people to visit Uluru and a concern that if it is a law that you cannot climb, people won’t come. So they also want to find other activities for people who come here to do.
Several weeks ago some people not only attempted to climb to the top, they went off of the marked track and had to be rescued. The cost of the rescue was over $150,000.
This place is beautiful and just seeing the beauty and reading about the Aborigine People is an inspiring adventure. Request or law: I just don’t understand the disrespect for the Aborigine people. I don’t understand the disrespect for the sacredness of this place.
We checked into the Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge. We were assigned to a bunk room with two very nice young people who were from Germany. Because the “power point,” (that is what Aussies call the outlet for the plugs) was near the bunks that they had already set up for themselves, it wasn’t going to reach for me. They just changed beds with us.
I had to set my alarm for 3:20 to have time to pack up all of the gear and head for the 4:00 bus to Kings Canyon. We saw the sun rising when we were in the bus but the bus driver didn’t stop the bus
The area we drove through is so remote. Finally we stopped at Kings Cross Station for a cooked breakfast.
Then off to Kings Canyon. On the way they explained that there were two choices for walks. We chose to do the 6 km rim walk. They told us that we would have to carry 3 liters of water. We climbed up a 100 meter cliff face which was over 200 rocky stairs and walked around the rim of the canyon.
Some of the rocks date back to a time when the Earth was bare and there was hardly a path of green t0 be seen. It seems that Watarrka was a windswept plain covered with sand dunes 400 million years ago. That sand has become the sandstone of the cliff tops. It’s hard and brittle because it is made almost entirely of quartz grains cemented with silica.
The Carmichael Sandstone of the slopes is 44 million years old. It’s more crumbly because it contains softer minerals mixed with quartz.
In addition to climbing up and down the rock stairs and surfaces, we climbed up and down metal stairs. Here is an example.
I loved taking the photos.
I came around a corner and saw this man standing out on a cliff edge. I had to take a photo. The guide was not happy about this guy, but he wasn’t in our group. That ledge was really hanging out there over a deep drop.
I liked this rock and climbed up onto it,
Then I decided to stand up on it. It wasn’t anywhere close to the ledges. The guide yelled at me not to stand up but I knew I was safe.
I had to watch for the triangle signs because sometimes the trail went around a corner.
The walk was almost over and much to my surprise I came across a lizard that was just sitting there ready for me to take its photo.
This was a fantastic walk for me. I knew I was behind the group because I was taking so many photos, but I wasn’t concerned because I knew Rose was somewhere behind me with the other guide. When I got to the bus I learned that Rose was not doing well and they had to go up to get her. I don’t think the main guide handled this situation well at all and will be writing a letter to the company about her negative attitude and her lack of safety procedures. She tried to blame Rose for to having enough water when she did. Rose was really sick. In addition, at the beginning of the hike (even though they told us to carry 3 liters each) Sara (the main guide) said that she had extra water. But she was in the front of the group with the extra water and the guide that was at the back of the group had no water. Sara took out her frustrations on me and some on Rose. She was not professional. I will be writing to the company about this incident.
We are back at the Elkira Hotel. Rose is asleep and, hopefully, doing better. I am finally finishing this post at 12:15 and going to sleep myself. We are off to Perth in the morning and both excited about seeing our friend, Jan. The next 3 weeks in W.A. are going to be fantastic.