Uluru is a 500 km detour for me, but I see the Big Red Rock as an important milestone of this trip. And what is 500 km in Australia?
- We are now in the middle of Australia. Switch to satellite view to see yourself how red the landscape is.
- On almost every brochure or website about Australia you can spot a panoramic shot of Uluru or Ayers rock, part of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The incredibly aggressive flies are, however, never mentioned.
- Traffic stopping at the Erldunda roadhouse either goes south, north or to Uluru by the Lasseter Highway. It is thus fairly easy to find a lift.
It took me 15 minutes to find a lift to Uluru.
#22 Colette, Carlos, Rodrigo / Erldunda -> Uluru
Rodrigo is a 40-year-old Spanish traveler with a youthful spirit. He rents out his two apartments in Barcelona and uses the rent to travel. Interesting attitude.
“You have to choose between a wife and freedom. I chose the latter.”
Carlos is a Spanish engineer who wants to work in Australia, the new land of opportunities.
“Europe is dead now, there are virtually no jobs in Spain. I can make up to five times more as a bartender in Australia than as an engineer in Spain. I’ll try to stay here and see what I can find.”
Colette is from the UK and worked as a researcher at Imperial College in London.
As the van is older than most of its passengers, we drive at moderate speed and enjoy the red landscape. At some point Rodrigo jumps up and points to what he thinks is Uluru but it appears to be Mt Conner, a fake Uluru. We also spot several dust devils, little tornadoes that pick up dust and small twigs.
Finally, we arrive at the Park’s gates. The park entry is $25 pp for 3 days. It’s already late afternoon when we arrive, but decide to enter and go for the sunset.
Rodrigo and myself want to climb Uluru but underestimate the walk to the start of the climb that leads to the top of this massive sandstone. When we arrive at the base it is already dusk and a sign is indicating that the climb is closed. Moreover, the climb will also be closed tomorrow because a temperature of more than 36°C is forecast. The sign also adds that the climb is physically demanding and over 35 people have died while attempting. A fine of $5000 applies to safety breakers. Sounds like a good escape.
We jump the fence and follow the path up. It is definitely no lazy Sunday afternoon stroll and I can conclude that this is the steepest path I ever walked on. We also started way too fast. Half way up (total height is 348 m) and breathless we realize it is getting too dark to continue. We descend and capture a unique sunset.
Next day, it’s still dark when we wake up and jump in the van. The beauty of this fantastic sandstone is that its color changes while the sun rises. The rest of the day is taken by a very hot Uluru base walk during which you can admire Aboriginal paintings and, simply, sandstone and red dust.
The verdict? Slightly over-hyped but worth a visit if you happen to be nearby. Also, look up. The stars shine brighter than ever.