On Friday we drove the 450km to Yulara, the resort town next to Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park. After we set up the tent, we drove into the park and up to Uluru (a.k.a. Ayers Rock, a.k.a. the Big Red Rock). We did not have enough time to walk around, so we decided to check out the visitors centre instead. Afterwards we drove to the sunset viewing area, where we were able to make some nice photos of Uluru changing to a red colour.
Saturday we got up really early to see the sunrise at Uluru, but the sun was hiding behind some clouds, so it was pretty disappointing. After sunrise we drove to the other side and climbed the rock. A little note on that: the Aboriginal owners ask everyone not to climb it, but they have not actually closed the climb (except in bad weather conditions), so still thousands of people climb it. Also, the park entry fee for Uluru – Kata Tjuta is A$25 p.p. for 3 days, which is exorbitantly expensive, considering you pay only A$22,50 for a car for 30 days for all the national parks in Western Australia. If they do not respect my financial situation (being a poor backpacker), I do not respect their wishes not to climb it. However, I did refrain from calling people from the top (yes, there is mobile coverage on top of Uluru), and sent SMS instead. On top of Uluru it really felt like I was in the centre of Australia, with a huge expanse of flat country almost everywhere I looked. After climbing Uluru, we drove to Kata Tjuta (a.k.a. the Olgas), where we did the Valley of the Winds hike, passing along some of the characteristic domes. Next was Walpa Gorge, a short hike to a lookout into the gorge, not very interesting. On the way back to Uluru we stopped at the sand dunes for a view of Kata Tjuta, but it had become really cloudy, so it was not very good. Back at Uluru the climb was closed because of high wind speeds at the top, and we did our last hike of the day around the base of Uluru. During that hike it rained as well, the first rain since I left Exmouth. All in all we hiked some 26km on Saturday. We went to see another sunset of Uluru as well, but the sun only came out shortly half an hour before, so the rock did not become red that day.
On Sunday we drove over 300km to get to Kings Canyon, and did the Canyon Rim walk, going all the way around the canyon. This was probably the most interesting hike in the centre, and reminded me somewhat of Karijini NP in Western Australia. Initially the plan was to camp at the Kings Canyon Resort, but they were asking an exorbitantly high price (A$14,50), so we decided to get back to the highway. That included driving 100km on unsealed road (the alternative was 270km of sealed road), but it was easy in my 4WD. We camped for free at Stuart’s Well.
Today we drove into Alice Springs, David and I said our goodbyes, and I finally had some time to update this website, since I had not been able to do that since leaving Darwin.