After Alice it was time for us to carry on the journey west again and out to Uluru which is more commonly known as Ayers Rock. While we were driving down the Lasseter Highway we came to a viewpoint called Mt Connor Lookout. Now that should have been a major clue for us but at that viewpoint Liam and I were convinced that this rock was Uluru!
We felt a little bit shamed when we carried on driving for at least another 150km and the real Uluru came into view as it was clearly the one we have all seen in pictures and on TV. We immediately went to have a closer look and drove all the way around it. It really is pretty impressive and it’s nothing like I would have expected. We also had a look around the Cultural centre to get a bit of insight into the Aboriginals view of Uluru. We decided to stay at the Ayers Rock Resort which is just outside of the National Park while we were exploring the area and even though it wasn’t our usual free roadside rest stop it was definitely worth it. We managed to see some aboriginal dancing and also went to see a famous aboriginal singer called Warren H Williams but best of all we had a swimming pool to relax and cool down.
We took advantage of a free guided tour included with our admission the next day. It was called a Mala Walk and basically it was to try and give a better view of the aboriginal’s role here. I can honestly say that Liam and I were pretty biased towards it at first and we thought that aboriginal people were very primitive and backwards. However after learning more about their very complex and interesting culture I have a deeper understanding and respect for them. Their social structure and the way that they have such an enormous amount of knowledge about both the land and creatures among it is fascinating. Also the fact that they have none of this great knowledge is either written down or collected, that instead it is passed down from generation to generation and only to the right people in the hierarchy.
One very controversial thing at Uluru was the climbing of the rock. There were signs absolutely everywhere pleading that nobody would climb it as it is extremely sacred to the aboriginal people. They still allow it as apparently it isn’t in the aboriginals’ nature to forbid anyone; they just ask that you respect their wishes and culture. Despite this there were still people making the climb, it shocked and disgusted me that people would do it. Would you visit a cathedral as a tourist and be loud and obscene or visit a mosque and refuse to take your shoes off? No, even though it may not be your religion or culture we respect that it means a lot to someone else so we follow the procedure.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that in the same National Park as Uluru is also another great area called Kata Tjata. It is just as awe-inspiring as Uluru itself so it was well worth a visit. We went on our last afternoon so we could do a short walk up to Kata Tjata and then watch the sunset afterwards. The sunset was beautiful as it set behind us rather than behind the rock which is what you would expect but it has a magnificent result on the rock itself. As the light changes and the sun lowers the rock begins to change colour, it’s an array of reds, oranges and finally purples before the sun finally sets in the background.
We got up extra early on our last morning to see the sunrise behind Uluru itself. In the darkness and gloom the rock is ominous and imposing in the distance but as the sun slowly rises it comes to life in all its brilliant bright red glory.
After Uluru we began the trek south again and passed into South Australia. It got very flat, very windy and colder than we expected! Whereas before the mornings were our respite from the harsh arid heat of the outback, it was now beginning to be difficult to drag ourselves from under the covers into the crisp cold air!
Coober Pedy was an interesting stop while we were in South Australia as it’s a mining town famous for its commodity of Opal. Also due to the fact that a lot of the town is actually underground! The town is pretty hyped up about the opal and shamelessly has turned into a tacky tourist trap. We enjoyed it though and it was pretty quaint and definitely unlike anything we have seen before! We went to the Old Timers Museum to see what all the fuss was about and get a bit more info about how it came to be the Opal Mining Capital of the World (self-branded of course!). There was a big opal rush back in the 1800’s when I’m sure a lot of people thought they would strike it big, I’m sure a few of them did alright out of it but it dried up after a while. However there was another opal boom a little bit more recently back in 2005 and it is still an up and running mining community today so there must still be some big bucks around for those that have the know-how! We had a look around a few of the other underground buildings as well including an underground Catholic Church which was beautiful and an underground hotel!
As we were driving to our next rest stop we felt a little nervous for some reason as we started to see a lot of animals on the sides of the roads and not just road-kill either! We saw a couple of Emu’s including one with about 17 chicks alongside her and a large herd of cattle which stampeded onto the road just as we had gone past them! Luckily we did arrive safely at Lake Hart in time to watch the sunset over the Lake. Well it did appear to be a lake in the evening, yet in the morning light it turned out to be dried up like most lakes, rivers and creeks in the outback!
As we carried on south we could definitely begin to see signs that we were nearing the coast finally as the land became a lot more lush and green! We got to Port Augusta and it felt nice to be close to the sea again, although we definitely felt the chill in the air this far south! Our rest area for the night was probably one of the better ones we stayed in as it was right on the coast at Point Lowly. We parked looking over the sea and close to the cute Point Lowly Lighthouse.
Driving further south towards Port Lincoln the destination for our upcoming shark dive made us a little homesick as the green rolling hills and cold climate reminded us of our home county Yorkshire!