Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Monoliths and More

While in the outback, we spent time at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The land there was beautiful, with that rich red soil and very flat land. Kata Tjuta, also called the Olgas, is a series of large roundish rocks that rise up out of nowhere.

Kata-Tjuta is a sacred site to the Anangu Aboriginal men, and as such a lot of the cultural significance of the area is not know and not accessible to the public.

A close-up picture of the rocks.

Here is the famous monolith, Uluru (aka Ayers Rock).

I had seen many pictures of this place before going there, and to be honest I never knew what the big deal was. When you see it in person, though, it is amazing. The size alone is hard to comprehend, and only 1/3 of it is visible above the land. The surrounding area is completely flat, making it even more mysterious trying to understand what this is and how it got there.

The walk around Uluru is great with caves and waterholes appearing as you round each curve. It took about three hours for us to circle the rock, about 10k total.

It has become a big tourist attraction to climb to the top of Uluru. Despite notices everywhere from the Aboriginal landholders asking people not to do this because Uluru is sacred to them, people continue to do it.

It is a tough climb, too, and several people have died of heart failure on the trip to the top.

The sunset at Uluru was really cool. It began as a bright orange-red. Then, as the sun started to go down, it developed a purple hue. As the purple faded, the shadows got really sharp. Eventually, it faded into a dusty brown. We tried to document this transition in photographs.

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