The Big Red Rock. Ayers Rock. Uluru. It goes by a few different names (Uluru now being the most accepted), but there is no mistaking Uluru when you see it. It is about as iconic a natural landform as there is. Rising directly out of a nearly flat ground to a height of around 330 meters, Uluru towers above you as you walk the 9.4 kilometer circumference. This thing is simply put, massive.
And it was on a dark and cool morning that I stood nearby, ready to begin a walk around the entirety of Uluru.
I’m not even sure you could qualify the time as ‘morning’. We were up before the sun, and shivering. That is one thing about the Outback. Especially in the winter time, the temperature swings a lot. While the highs might reach 25-30C in winter, the lows will be near zero. There was also a good wind going at this time so many of us started walking quite quickly. We had 9+km to traverse and walking quickly was the only way to stay warm!
Eventually the sky began to brighten and the very bizarre formations on Uluru started to come into focus.
And I really do mean odd formations. This was a side you don’t often see of Uluru. And it looks genuinely alien.
Finally the sun started to peak above the horizon, bringing with it some much needed light and warmth.
The morning colours of Uluru. You couldn’t take close shots or pictures of any kinds in some areas of Uluru (and hopefully I don’t have any here). Many spots of Uluru are sacred sites to the Aboriginal people of the area. While they welcome you to see them in person, they ask that no photos of certain spots are taken.
Now this is starting to look more familiar! With the sun coming up now and the colours back to normal, Uluru started to look more and more like the postcards and photos that everyone has seen.
Well, that was until you got close. After the first part of the track taking an extended outside tour of one face of Uluru, the trail swung around to one end and from then one we quite often got good and close to the Rock.
This whole area is one spot that pictures can sort of capture what it looks like, but for a real appreciation of just how bizarre and unique the rock is, you have to stand there. The best way I could describe it is that someone melted the rock.
Because on close inspection, it really does just look like a single rock. This isn’t an amalgamation of boulders, rocks and such. It looks and feels completely solid.
Continuing down the side of Uluru, this started running into the ‘wet’ side. The black lines are where the water will run down in the event of rain, leading to some greenery.
And the weird formations were still continuing. These huge gaps in the rock would appear. Melted rock, seriously!
There was a series of them here.
Then there was this thing, which looked kind of like an alien mouth.
There was a large wave formation to the rock in spots as well. Being fully black, the area would receive a lot of water runoff.
And this natural lowspot on the rock created a verdant area of greenery. Often frequented by local wildlife, which allowed the Aboriginal hunters to easily track and hunt food in the area.
Even with the current dry season, a waterhole at the base of the green area remained.
At this point the walk was nearly done, I was back in shadows and crossing back towards the face of Uluru. It’s an easy walk, being entirely flat, but absolutely mind boggling in spots.
One final look from the side of Uluru.
I had survived the loop trip. It’s something a lot of people skip with Uluru, which is a true shame. Seeing the Rock light up at sunset wasn’t even remotely close to as interesting as doing the loop circuit. You really get an appreciation for what a special place it is.
But the walking doesn’t necessarily stop there. You can hike to the top of Uluru if you wanted to, though this is highly, highly frowned upon. No only is it dangerous, but it is also highly disrespectful of the Aboriginal culture of the area. In their culture, the hike occurs to mark the transition from being a boy to a man. It is sacred and they ask you not to hike it out of respect. People still do it, but thankfully none from our group tried the ascent today.
After a snack at the bus, we headed…back to the base of Uluru. We weren’t finished yet! There was more learning to be had. This time it would be on the Aboriginal culture of the area.