Face to Face Around the Base of Uluru
Heading back home today but certainly not before we’ve done the 10.6 km Base Walk around Ayers Rock-Uluru. It just means we have to be packed, have a hearty breakfast and manage to get to Ayers Rock before sunrise without losing my hat or keys again! Who needs sleep when when you can doze on the plane? Just as well our passes to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park are still valid so we scoot through the gates and head towards the Rock just as the sun rises. Here’s the Visitor’s Guide with all the info. Simply magical to watch the first rays of the sun bring Ayers Rock to life.
Although most visitors park at the Mala Carpark and walk from there we decided to try the Kuniya Carpark on the southern side to minimise the time we were exposed to the heat and full sun, even now in the autumn. Walking briskly helps keep us warm as we watch the sunrise and the shadows disappear.
Uluru’s rock face changes at every turn and in every light. It has a character all of it’s own which works wonders on lively imaginations. Can you spot the dolphin head? The closer you are the more you seem to see or feel.
The Eastern Section of the Base Walk takes you a long way from the actual base and towards the road as it bypasses Taputji or the Little Ayers Rock Sacred Site. A strong wind comes up and blows straight into our faces making it hard to walk and we’re glad to be on flat ground and not up on the rock. After a rest at the peaceful Kantu Gorge we’re not surprised to see the climb is closed then horrified to see climbers who had obviously gone up early and were now struggling to get back down.
That’s the rather steep path going up directly behind the sign and not where you want to be in a strong wind, hanging onto a chain and post rail. Thank goodness for solid, red soil where all I have to do is hang onto my hat or walk backwards.
Extraordinary to contemplate what we see at Uluru as only a fraction of the actual rock. It’s like an iceberg where you only see the tip, except of course it’s sandstone. According to Geoscience Australia it’s about 5oo million years old and has been uplifted so the horizontal sandstone layers are now vertical instead, they look a bit like ribs. Ayers Rock is 345 metres high and 9.4 kilometres around the actual base.
A distinct advantage of starting at Kuniya walk is that the toilets at Mala Carpark are 2 km closer and a welcome stop before that last hour’s walk. We criss cross paths with plenty of other early walkers we’ve seen along the way.
Fortunately, there’s still some remnants of shade along the last leg of the Lungkata Walk with secret grottos to entice us before the well earned seat by the tranquil Mutitjulu Waterhole where we marvel at the splendour of all we’ve seen and done in Central Australia.
Reluctantly, we turn back towards Yulara Resort for a coffee and a refreshing swim before heading to the Airport but are soon stopped by a biker. What can the matter be? A Thorny devil is in the middle of the road and refuses to budge. It cannot be coaxed but remains rooted to the spot and we have to drive on hoping it survives. Who can argue with such grim determination?