John and I got an early start en route to The Olgas or Kata Tjuta as we should call them. Even though the sky was overcast again it didn’t dampen out enthusiasm for what lay ahead.
From quite a distance over the last few days we had glimpsed the Olgas on a number of occasions. Here is one such glimpse taken from foot The Rock itself.
However, getting closer revealed how mysterious and dominating they really are.
Then suddenly Mt Olga loomed large and dominating the landscape.
As you get closer, the impact of The Olgas increases and I couldn’t help but wonder about the Initiation Ceremonies that traditionally took place there. In fact, on a subsequent visit a year or so later I learned that Secret Men’s Business, at significant times, still takes place there.
John G continued to demonstrate his navigational skills and not long after this shot was taken, guess what.
To be fair, back then there was no such thing as civilian GPS. Map and compass was the way it was done. Our topographical map was getting a bit battered and we had been lucky that on only a few occasions a U turn was required. This was one such time. Strangely, John appeared reluctant to use my souvenired military issue magnetic compass.
Eventually we reached the spot we were looking for in order that we could walk into The Valley of the Winds. In 1973 it was quite a different climb to the way it is today. The track was feint and mostly very hard to find and the going was very rough and in spots particularly steep. Finally we reached the spot near where the Valley began.
The view into the Valley proper was breathtaking and my image just doesn’t do it justice.
On a number of subsequent trips I’ve been fortunate to descend to the valley floor and explore its fascinating features. It’s an immense area and never fails to amaze everyone who visits there.
Unfortunately, both John and I were now both facing time restraints and decided to begin our journey home.
We journeyed back to The Rock, replenished our depleted water supply and started back to civilisation.
Here is our last sighting of Ayres Rock.
On reflection, John and I had been in close company for many weeks. Mostly with no other company close by. For two men who had just met we got on particularly well but I suspected as we left Ayres Rock that we were not really overjoyed with each others company any more.
Nothing had been said, there was no apparent tension and we were as courteous to each other as we had been since Day 1. However, to quote from the movie’ The Castle,’ ‘It’s The Vibes.’
That night as we sat around the camp fire our discussions turned to the return journey.
I’d planned to get home via Mt Isa and the route taken by the little group from the Land Rover Club. I indicated to John that would be quickest.
It was then that John informed me that it had been his intention all along to return to Sydney by air from Adelaide and he expected me to deliver him to the South Australian Capital. I gathered that he had an open ticket for that journey.
I must have been a softie way back then because I couldn’t bring myself to tell him what I thought. Instead I pointed out that the way south to Adelaide was mainly on dirt roads with some river crossings and that the rain we had experienced might provide some obstacles.
I gave a drop off for him in Alice Springs as an alternative but from his response I got the distinct impression that dollars and cents were an issue. I didn’t pursue it. After all, I hadn’t chased recompense for the gallons and gallons of petrol I’d brought. Anyway, what’s a bit of mud and water across the track for a short wheel base Landrover.
Therefore, get prepared for Part 9.
Hoo roo for now.