Kitty Goes Walkabout
Uluru - Kata Tjuta Travel Blog› entry 15 of 34 › view all entries
Tuesday, August 18
Today, we joined formal aboriginal tours of Uluru. You can choose aboriginal or more standard commercial. The aboriginal tours, obviously, tell you the story of The Rocks from their cultural perspective and from its place in their spiritual and historic perspective. That's something we can't easily get from other sources, unlike basic geological information, so that's what we chose.
Kitty signed up for a sunrise tour, so she was up and out before Jeff and I even stirred. Our plan was to meet her onsite at 10 am for a 2nd tour. However, when we went to register for that tour, we found it had been cancelled (not enough registrations). We'd all known that was a possibility, so we expected Kitty to get back on the bus and return to the resort.
It was still gray and chilly but the wind had died down, so Jeff and I decided to try the Valley of the Wind again.
The Valley of the Wind is a section of the Kata Tjuta where you can walk in and among the rocks for several kilometers. It's a male-sacred place (meant for male aborginals and a place of initiation for young men; women have their own sacred places) but they permit visitors in certain areas.
The landscape is....odd. The rocks, large and small, are all red, a deep ochre. There are spills and tumbles and fields of small stones, almost like something scattered after an explosion. But this area hasn't been volcanic for (if I remember correctly) thousands of years. The rocks are large (think skyscraper or gymnasium large) and smooth.
The terrain is a bit treacherous if you're not wearing footgear with ankle support because of all the loose stone. Jeff was wearing boots but his ankle was sore from all the standing in the cultural center yesterday. I did not bring my hiking boots, unwilling to sacrifice the suitcase space. I'm wearing sneakers.
We make it to the first viewing point. It allows you to look down into a valley between the rocks and it is, again, surprisingly green. Jeff and I decide this is as far as we'll go. I'd love to do the rest of the trail but absolutely not in sneakers. It's one of the few times I regret leaving the boots at home.
Warning: I'm about to go all woo-woo.
Rocks, in other words. Yep, my soul apparently grooves to ... rocks. I was a little disappointed to learn that, I will admit. I think it's supposed to make working with crystals particularly effective for me but I haven't had much luck with that so far.
But, hey, here I am in the midst of some pretty amazing (and large) rocks, so let's see what happens. Figure I'll do a little mind quieting, a little meditation time, and see what comes up.
I liked that.
So, maybe I am good with rocks as long as they are reeeeeeeeeeeeally big. :)
It was now starting to rain, so Jeff and I hoofed it back to the car and the resort. I was looking forward to hearing about Kitty's tour and telling her about our experiences.
Except there's no Kitty. And she's not answering her phone. And there's no messages for us. And she isn't anywhere to be found. We waited a while but then, fearing that she might not have caught the bus back, Jeff got back in the car to return to the Uluru cultural center, about 20 miles away, just in case.
And he found her......walking along the side of the road. She HAD decided to stay there and wait for us. And when we didn't show (and her phone died and the pay phone wouldn't take coins only phone cards and the cultural center didn't sell phone cards and then she had an internal and well-justified hissy fit), she decided she'd just walk back to the resort. How far could it be?
Well, it could be almost 20 miles. In the desert. By herself. With one teeny-tiny bottle of water. She did keep an eye out for our car but discovered there are a lot of generic silver sedans on the road around Uluru.
Jeff just about had a coronary when he saw her walking along the side of the road. He also apparently read her the riot act about walking "across the desert" by herself with no water.
(I, on the other hand, admitted when they got back that it was exactly the sort of thing I would have done too. This did not reduce the huffing and puffing.)
Jeff finally calmed down enough that we were permitted back in the car so we could take part in an evening Aborginal tour. When we opened the trunk at the cultural center, we made a sad discovery -- my Pepsi had leaked onto our camera. (And for those of you who read my Scotland blogs, yes it's the same camera I dropped in the North Sea.) While the camera can still take pictures, the display doesn't work so we are just aiming blindly and can't look at the pictures once we're done.
Nuts. After Scotland, the camera cleaned itself up in about 6 weeks. I'm not as optimistic this time but time will tell. Fortunately, we have one other smaller camera and that is now our prime (and only) option.
The tour is led by an Aboriginal woman who speaks in her native language, explaining one of the creation stories as it plays out along the rocks. She has a translator.
Creation stories are a bit complex and often involve the Ancestors who could take both human and animal form. The stories swirl around the rocks and explain many of the grooves and formations in the rocks. They also impart ethical and cultural values (don't steal, don't lie, that sort of thing).
In addition to the stories, she also points out areas of significance -- a cave with wall paintings where the elders taught the younger people lessons.
We then drove down the road a bit to a very popular spot for watching the effects of the sunset on the rock. If the sky is partly cloudy, you get the best effects as the setting sun changes the color of the rock along the way. Tonight it was a mostly clear sky, so the rock mostly just got darker. However, each sort of "phase" of darkness would highlight different aspects of the rock, so it was worth it to stay through to the end.
And, yeah, we took a ton of pictures. :)
We splurged on dinner at one of the more upscale cafes (and had the best salt-n-pepper calamari ever). We caught just a wee bit of the Milky Way before going down for the night.