The Aboriginal Tribes of Central Australia call it Uluru. While the name itself has no particular meaning in Aboriginal language, I like it rather than Ayers Rock. I would rather it be called Denali than Mount McKinley. One of its prominent features is a changing of color with the various degrees of light. The photo at the top was taken at daybreak.
Uluru is a sandstone Rock formation called an “inselberg,” which means island mountain. It basically is a stone knob that rose out of the ground of flat desert land around it. The stone of Uluru is mostly underground, and has no joints. This means there is nowhere on the rock for soil to collect which became a deterrent to erosion. The original color of the sandstone was grey, but oxidation led to tints of a rust color.
The Aboriginal Tribes consider Uluru sacred. The local people lived around its multiple springs, and had gatherings in its rock outcropping and caves. One of their legends reveals that the clan elder hiked to the summit, some 1200 meters of elevation, and planted a pole to signify that the gathering was underway.
Earlier this year, the tribal elders decreed that Uluru could no longer be climbed. Tourists had been able to climb up on all fours and literally slide down the rock’s sandstone face on their asses. The pic below is the spot where the climb happened.
Recent newspaper articles have said that tourism is way down since this ban was put into place. But I like and respect it. I mean, how would Americans like it if foreigners started climbing up the face of Mount Rushmore??? And I was absolutely revolted to see tourists climb on the Mermaid statue in Copenhagen for their pics. Spirituality is so much more important, and the opportunity to learn about another culture’s beliefs and faiths is priceless.
Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef are Australia’s two prominent geological features. It was helpful for us to have spent time in Utah’s red rock country before making this trek. It is a long detour to get here, and the flies test your motivations. But its place in lore with a unique people’s culture makes the trip a wonderful experience
Uluru is what we had heard about and expected to see. So imagine our surprise when we drove about 35 miles the next morning to experience Kata Tjuta, which means “many heads.” Europeans named them “The Olgas,” but I’ll bet you can guess which name I’ll use. The rock here is an assortment of geological layers. It was like pieces of very hard rock kept in place by a layer of geologic limestone mortar. Occasionally a rock would loosen and roll down the mountain. You could see the curved indentation where it used to be. Kind of like having a dental filling fall out. Anyway, this made walking on it feel like cobblestones.
Once again, this was sacred land. While not allowed to climb, we could walk through the “gap,” as it would be called in the Eastern USA. Once again, I would compare this hike with something you might do in Canyonlands or Monument Valley. I founded myself comparing this day to Monument Valley a lot because they are both on tribal lands.
Only the tough survive out here, both plant and animal. I wrote about the desert fauna in my last post. Here is a patch of grass, growing on pure rock… No Soil!! I can’t even begin to understand how it can do this. How impressive is this??? If I ever am about to get mugged in an alley, I want this grass with me!!
I took this pano of the desert as we walked back through the gap to the trailhead. I don’t know if it captures the expanse that we saw live and in person. Too soon it was time to head back to fly out of the desert. I won’t miss the flies, but I’m glad we came. I got a couple more shots of Uluru and Kata Kjuta on the way out: