Uluru (Ayers Rock)
November 5, 1998
Can someone tell me why we keep getting up at 5:00am? It's not
natural, I tell you...
Anyway, we piled on the bus for our trip to Ayers Rock: we were planning
on doing the climb today as well. The cold and cough I had picked up was acting up,
so I took some Tylenol to feel better for the trip.
When we got to the park, the rock climb was closed! The wind and
rain had made the climb to treacherous to handle, so we had to be satisfied with the walk
around the base for now. But before that, we were there early in order to watch the sunrise over Ayers Rock! Pretty spectacular, and
only marred a little bit by all the tourists getting up to do exactly the same thing!
Once again, there were storm clouds on the horizon (and that's not a metaphor,
We made our way to the start of the rock
climb where we would begin our walk around the Rock. At the base there is a
little info about the Rock, and also a bunch of plaques
for the people who have fallen off and killed themselves (ouch!). Fortunately none
of us did that while we were there!
Yet another trivia bit:
Speaking of death, Ayers Rock features prominently in a film called
"Evil Angels" (a.k.a. "A Cry in the Dark")
starring Merryl Streep and Sam Neil. It's based on the true story of a woman who
claims that a dingo stole her
baby, and is ultimately put on trial for murder in what turns into a media circus.
End of Trivia Bit.
1, 2, 3 O'Clock, 4 O'Clock Rock...
As we walked around the Rock, guided by Jo and a local ranger, they
discussed various features of the rock and their significance to the Aboriginal peoples.
As we walked by an overhang, we heard a lot
of peeping and noise. Thinking it was bats, we walked under and looked up into the
gloom. Nothing was to be seen! Then we noticed the small pond next to the
cave: the noise turned out to be several frogs, croaking
in the pond! The overhang acted like a loudspeaker, projecting and enhancing the
sound. We would hear several more groups of frogs in other ponds around the rock.
The composition of the rock was very different than that of the
one thing, it was all one solid piece! Around the borders there were several places
where erosion had carved out interesting features in the rock, including the WaterSlide, Mick
Jagger Lips, Big-Ass Drop, and the Termite Colony-or-Possibly-The-Head-of-David-Letterman
(obviously these Aboriginal terms have been translated into the vernacular).
Several places around the rock are considered especially sacred by the
Aborigines: we were not allowed to take photos there. The hike itself lasts about 2
hours, and I was starting to get baked by the sun towards the end. After a quick rest in the shade, I caught up to the rest of the
group where they were looking at some Aboriginal
paintings in the caves. I was really impressed with the colors in these pics: they didn't look quite so bright
when I took them!
We went to a small museum near the Rock for lunch and a little shopping: I
did most of my Christmas shopping there! Fortunately you could post stuff so I
didn't have to carry a lot of delicate things back with me through customs!
Scenic (Urp!) Flights
After lunch, I went with a few others to take a flight around the Rock and the Olgas,
to get a few arial pictures. I should have been warned by the fact that the Rock was
closed due to wind: the flight was VERY bumpy! But despite that, I managed to
get some great shots of both monuments (had to wait
for those downturns in the turbulence y'know). Got a group pic of everyone as well: look at how tiny that plane is! The pilot had to carfully
seat us so that the weights all balanced.
After the flight, we met back up with the rest of the group to watch the Ayers Rock sunset party: champagne and snacks were served and people were really enjoying
themselves. There was a film crew a little up the road: apparently they were filming
some sort of tourist commercial. Dinner was a barbeque back at the hotel: people
were getting really rowdy, full of champagne and burgers! The hotel managment
actually had to send a grim-looking security guard to tell us to shut up, as this was a
"family resort": spoilsports!
I learned how to play gin with some of the ladies (I bet some of them do
really well at the casinos :-) and watched the rest of them play some sort of drinking
game involving passing cards to each other and putting them down until someone got a
certain card, and then quickly putting down the cards and drinking, or something (couldn't
really understand it myself!). Being a teetotaller, I simply observed with
Feeling a bit woozy from the airplane flight and also from my continuing
cold (aw, poor baby) I made it an early night, but not before setting my alarm for 4:30
(AGAIN!), because there was a chance that tomorrow, the Rock would be open and we could
climb it in the morning! I went to bed with my fingers crossed...