Sunrise at Uluru, sunset at Kata Tjuta

27th May 2013.

This morning we rose early to drive out to the far side of Uluru to watch the sunrise. Just as they've created a designated area for observing the sunset, so too have they built an excellent series of platforms to watch the sunrise.

As there was little cloud in the sky to  reflect the sun's rays, it wasn't that much of a spectacle but still an impressive sight just the same.


Once we'd watched the rock until the colours stopped changing, we drove the short distance around to the carpark area at the waterhole. This is where we began our 11km walk around the base of Uluru. The track has many information posts that describe the significance of, or story surrounding, each area to the local indigenous people. A number of those requested that visitors refrain from taking photos and video footage of specific features. They go on to explain that these were the subject of specific stories and teachings that are significant to Uluru only and were not to be talked about or mentioned away from the rock. So we did as they asked so there may be some gaps in our photo coverage. Still, that didn't stop the SLR and video cameras working overtime in the areas we were free to shoot.

Sharon and I both agree that the highlight came at the welcome end of our circumnavigation when we walked into the permanent waterhole, tucked in to a deep cleft in the rock. There's a small observation platform built out over a crystal clear pool of water which was still being fed buy a steady trickle after heavy rains the previous week. We sat down on the bench seat for a while and just took in the atmosphere. Whilst sitting there, those immortal words of Darryl Kerrigan came to mind "How's the serenity"? Sorry, but Bonnie Doon doesn't hold a candle to this place.

The 11kms took a bit of a toll on our legs, so we dragged ourselves to the car and back to Yulara to recuperate.

Later that afternoon it was back out to Kata Tjuta to watch the sunset. The area designated for this activity is around the back of the formations, which is not as attractive as the other side. But again, this didn't stop us clicking away and taking a ton of shots. What did cause us significant frustration were the sticky little flies that were in plague proportions. Whilst Sharon covered every inch of herself, except for her eyes, with her jacket, I battled on, periodically taking shots as the shadows lengthened whilst trying not to inhale any of the little mongrels. We decided then and there we were going to seek out the shop that was selling the fly nets we'd seen others wearing and get ourselves a couple, no matter how daggy they looked.

"Is that it?" "No, that's Mt Connor"

26th May 2013

The day's finally arrived when I'm going to get to see Uluru in the flesh. Leaving from our overnight stop at Kulgera, it was a leisurely 310km drive to the Campground at Yulara.

As we got closer to our destination I caught a glimpse over the tops of the trees and sand hills of a large geological feature in the distance. I asked Sharon "Is that it?"

Not Uluru

 which she replied  "No" and explained that what I was seeing is Mount Connor, not Uluru. None-the-less, it was a pretty impressive sight anyway.

Mount Connor

It was a further 50 or 60kms down the road before we got a teaser of the real thing, then a short time later, our first sighting of Kata Tjuta.

After plonking the van on our primo site right next to the loos, we drove to the Ranger's gate where we purchased our 3 day pass to Uluru and Kata Tjuta, then on to the Rock. All the pictures and footage of Uluru I've seen in the past have shown the differing colours and moods of the rock, but none have really done justice. The sheer size and presence of the structure is awe inspiring. It's something that has to be experienced first hand. There was also a bit of time spent looking around the Heritage Centre where a lot of the local Aboriginal history and Dreamtime stories surrounding the area are related.

Later we drove back into the park to the purpose built Viewing Area to witness the sun set on the rock. As the sun and temperature dropped, we witnessed the famous colour change act.


 Tomorrow, we'll go back and walk the base of Uluru and get up real close and personal.

Over the border into the N.T.

25th May 2013

We said hooroo to Coober Pedy and continued heading north. The landscape continued to change character every so many kilometres with any number of spectacular features visible in the distance.

We just had to stop and get a snap of us at the border, but made it quick as the pesky little flies were everywhere and annoyingly sticky.
Our stop for the night was at a very basic caravan park behind the roadhouse at Kulgera. $20 per night for a powered sight, plenty of hot water in the showers, and a vista like this... what more could you ask for?
Tomorrow, on to the Rock.

A bit more of Coober Pedy

24th May 2013

Another morning waking to the sounds of the "Grey Nomads" packing up their rigs and hitting the road at sparrow's fart.

It was a brilliant sunny morning, but the temperature was still fresh with a light breeze. So what did we do? We headed underground on a self guided tour of The Old Timer Mine just back from the main drag. Shafts and drives have been dug everywhere around town. You can literally step off the street and into a mine.

Demonstrates how a miner climbed the shaft which was "custom fitted" to his size.
 We were told they dug out $50,000 worth of Opal just excavating the entrance to the old diggings when they opened it up as a tourist atraction.

Late that day we drove back out to The Breakaways to watch the sun set. A small group of people with cameras had gathered at one of the vantage spots, all with the same intention of capturing something special.

Here's a sample of our efforts.

Taking in Coober Pedy

23rd May 2013

Today started off with a leisurely breakfast of O.J., bacon and egg rolls, and coffee.  Then it was into town to visit the Information Centre for Shaz to gather some clues as to what to see and do. I wandered outside and next door to investigate what looked like a couple of petrol bowsers, but are actually points where, for 20cents per 30 litres, you can get fresh, drinkable water.

Next we drove around the back streets of town, taking photos and marvelling at the uniqueness of this place. It appears that nothing gets thrown out here, it either sits around, or gets made into something to be used for mining Opals. This is definitely no place for anyone suffering from O.C.D.

 We needed to re-stock our supplies so a visit to the local supermarket was in order. What a pleasant surprise the local IGA was. Not only was it a substantial supermarket, but it also incorporated a comprehensive camping section, a hardware, and some major white goods. There's even a Cafe/Deli so a Capuccino and Long Black were ordered.

 After lunch we drove 30kms North of town to see "The Breakaways", a natural formation that's as spectacular as anything I've seen elsewhere. The SLR, video camera and GoPro were all working overtime and some sample shots are supplied below:

 As we headed back to the Caravan Park, the late afternoon sun highlighted the striking colours of the piles of tailings from the ubiquitous diggings and got Sharon snapping away again. I'd heard that Coober Pedy was surrounded by diggings and that the resultant mounds of dirt were everywhere, but it's not until you see it for yourself that you get a true appreciation for this place.

 Selling or prospecting for opals seems to be everything to this town and I'd say it's a fair guess it probably wouldn't exist if it weren't for the semi-precious gems. This is a place like no other I've been to and has a fascination I can't explain, it definitely has to be experienced first hand.  

Port Augusta to Coober Pedy

22nd May 2013

We left the Big 4 caravan park at Port Augusta under grey clouds and constant drizzle. It didn't look much better where we were heading.

But the dark skies did provide a contrasting backgroud to the brilliant orange-to-red hills that surrounded us.

  Mid morning saw us at the Woomera Rocket range. This is a strange place that's a bit like a ghost town on the surface, but there's Army personnel and other workers around, a school, cinema, General Store, Museum and a Heritage Centre, and if you look a bit closer, there are some recently built residential houses. There's also a nice little Cafe where we took the opportunity to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee.

We passed a fair amount  of traffic heading South, a large proporion of which was large road trains of different configurations. This trip we're taking note of likely spots to stop and free-camp when we plan to come back this way with Di, Dave and Wendy in 2015.     
  It was fairly late in the afternoon when we arrived at Coober Pedy with the sun low in the sky and glaring in through the windscreen. It was suggested we stay at the Stuart Range Caravan Park, so we promptly booked in for three nights and planned to try out their Pizzas tomorrow night. After selecting our site and setting up the 'van, we settled in for the night.


"Alice Springs?.......a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there"

20th & 21st May 2013

Here we are at last, about to start one of the most iconic Australian journeys....through Central Australia to Alice Springs.

The last two days have seen us arrive at Port Augusta, travelling over countryside familiar to us after our trip to the Flinders Ranges in 2011. Last night we pulled up at a Caravan Park in Bolivar, an area on the north western side of Adelaide. I got talking to a fellow camper there about where we were heading. When I told him our ultimate destination is Alice Springs his immediate response was "Nice place to visit....but you wouldn't wanna live there!"  (He and his wife had lived there) hence the above title of this blog thread.

So, here we are on the eve of ticking off one of the major items on my bucket list, that is, to experience Uluru and Kata Tjuta in person. Hopefully there'll be some nice photos to add in over the next 4 weeks.

Stay tuned.