Exploring Kata Tjuta

Today was an enjoyable day, mainly because it was slower, and I didn’t have to leave at sunrise. That’s the way it is around here. You either leave with the sun, or you leave in the early afternoon to catch the sunset against Uluru later in the day. It’s nice and all, but can be tiring.

Kata Tjuta is the next big sight in this area, and, like Uluru, it is a remarkable rock formation. Instead of just one great rock like at Uluru, though, Kata Tjuta is a collection of rocks (that’s what “Kata Tjuta” means, “many heads”). It is a beautiful, stunning area and I went on a 4 hour hike that takes in the best views, the Valley of the Winds hike.

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Here’s Kata Tjuta. It’s maybe 30 minutes away from Uluru.

When you really get going on the Valley of the Winds hike, you realize how Kata Tjuta is a lot different from Uluru. Uluru feels pretty solid. A giant piece of rock. Kata Tjuta, though, is far more a collection of rocks all smashed together. It’s a conglomerate. Like a bunch of rocks were just randomly formed into one. Because of this, the place feels more fragile somehow. The rocks feel like they’re just barely hanging together.

It is extremely beautiful, though. And extremely quiet and peaceful. With crystal clear running water, and shadows that hang against the rock canyon walls above.

And like at Uluru, you have water trails down the rocks, and great caves way up in the walls.

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The Valley of the Winds trail winds around in the rocks, and at one point opens up to great views out into the distance. Those open views stretch on and on until you pretty much hit the Indian Ocean out in Western Australia.

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The entire hike isn’t too strenuous, and afterwards we headed to see the sunset over Uluru. Check out how the colors change… this is just over the course of 5 minutes.

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These photos say it all…

Walking Around Uluru

Today I set out bright and early for Uluru. It was cold and windy, but the desert was beautiful, with low-hanging and clumpy clouds. I was dropped off at one end of the great rock, and decided to make my way around all of Uluru. In the end, with a lot of stops, it took around 4 hours. Here is my walk…

These are morning views of the desert before I actually started my walk. I find the desert so beautiful and peaceful here. It honestly feels and looks like a dream-world, another planet. So quiet. This path led to the beginning point of my walk, the Mala segment.

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This Mala portion of the walk was awesome because it finally put me front and center, right by Uluru. So close you could touch it. It also made the contours and pot-holes and scars of Uluru that those distant pictures just don’t capture very obvious. Like these great black streaks like paint down the rock left by thousands of years of water moving slowly down the surface, coloring it black.

I also was starting to understand at this point┬áthe importance of Uluru as I kept on walking, and how it is basically the book of the Anangu, the original inhabitants of this area. All of the markings on the rock are like words, are stories about the myths that define them. Like these pictures…

These caves are their history. The picture on top is said to be elders of the Anangu (they do have white beards!) frozen in the face of the rock. And many places on Uluru have caves adorned with paintings that served as lessons for the young, teaching them about the area, its plants, animals, and how to survive. This cave is like an ancient schoolroom!

This is the North side of Uluru. Very cold and very windy here.

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I just think this is a beautiful photo. The sun suddenly broke through, and you can just see it above the cave.

Now I’m rounding the Eastern tip of Uluru. It’s┬átaken about 1 hour and a half to cover the Northern side.

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I thought this side, the Southern side, was by far the prettiest. More contours and details in the rock. Look:

One area had been recently burned, and still the great stream lines coloring the rock.

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Uluru just goes up and up! You almost become dizzy when you look straight up these cliff-faces.

Yes! More hands! This reminds me of the hand-prints I saw painted on the wall in Altamira in Spain… it just goes to show that humans, across space and time, have always felt the need to paint their hands. To say, “I was here!” The other marking is for a waterhole, which makes sense because this was right by:

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Have you ever seen anything more beautiful in your entire life? I mean honestly, just look at that! This is the Mutijulu Waterhole. Spectacular! I just stood and stared and stared…

These are also right by the Waterhole, and the markings again tell a story. Uluru as a giant book.

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And… back to where I started from. 4 hours in. You can see in this one the hand-rail you can hold on to if you’re insane enough to try and climb Uluru. Today it was closed because of high winds at the summit. I would do this if I wanted to die in a cool place… hah-hah!