Two things must be said about camping in Australia’s outback and in my view are perhaps the most significant elements of the experience.
The first is the sky. Day and night you have a three hundred and sixty degree unimpeded view. It’s like living inside a gigantic inverted pudding bowl. There are just not enough adjectives to fully describe the feeling the sky and its stars create.
The second is the absolute silence. Except for the occasional breeze through the trees, the rustle of the grass and the sounds of native animals going about their night time routines. Many describe it as ‘The Sound of Silence.’ Hows right they are.
John and I awoke to a clear day, with not a drop of rain and great light for photography and so we decided to circumnavigate The Rock on foot for the second time.
Way back then there were no access impediments and everything was accessible.
Uluru, to give it its Aboriginal name is revered by Aboriginal people and is a genuine Special Place or Sacred Site as many now call such places.
To climb to the The Rock’s summit or anywhere on it, as many tourists are wont to do is considered sacrilege by Aboriginal people and now even the National Parks people advise against the climb but it is still not prohibited.
John was determined to do the climb and even although I politely requested that he observe Sacred Site status he did set off determined to make it to the summit.
I suggested to John that he take my camera with him and grab some images and he agreed.
As I watched from the base, John got as far as the first pale spot just below the two individuals you can see and stopped. After a short break he turned around and descended. He never indicated why he had a change of heart. Giving me back the camera he said he had taken just one shot. Here it is.
After a brief interlude, we set off around The Rock for a second time, a distance of 9.4 klms or 5.8 miles. The Rock itself is sandstone, 348 metres or 1,142 feet high. It’s 863 metres or 2,831 feet above sea level.
The Anangu people who are the traditional owners of Uluru have a name for every individual element of Uluru’s rock faces. Way back then I’d learned many of the namers and committed them to memory but now, all of those years later I can recall only a few and that’s why I’ve refrained from giving a specific name to any of the following images made on our seemingly endless walk. I made many more images during this walk but they are now missing from my archive.
Ancient and more recent rock art by the Anangu people is in abundance at Uluru and I was fortunate to photograph some of them. I’d neglected to bring a flash unit for my camera and in many of the painting locations the light and the slowness of my slide film, 25 ASA prevented me from taking any useable photographs.
On this walk I found this blaze on one of the small trees. My inquiries with some of the locals who spoke English provided no information as to the source or meaning of the blaze. Subsequent inquiries have also drawn a blank and I’ve never stopped wondering about its origins.
Our walk complete, we wandered back to the Landy and hunted up camp site for the night. Finally we decided on a spot in the main observation area where one camp had already been set up.
We selected a site far from the maddening crowd and close to the enormous amenities block you can see in the following image..
This is the view of Uluru that is most popular with tourists. As the evening sun drops lower in the sky, the colours of The Rock change dramatically. These days the observation area is much further back and well regulated. Of course the tiny amenities block is long gone and modern facilities are available close by as part of a large tourist facility.
Our forward planning included The Olgas, or Kata Tjuta to give it its correct Anangu name. The area is now officially the Uluru-Kata Tjuka National Park and is administered well by the traditional owners.
Accordingly, we prepared for the morrow’s early start and we will come to that in Part 8 so hoo roo till then.