After an invigorating morning of watching the sun rise and doing aerobics it was time to visit Ayers Rock. I decided to climb the rock to where the chain starts. I would like to say my decision was totally in respect of the aboriginal people's request that tourist do not climb the rock but my decision was mostly motivated out of a fear of heights. Good decision as the climbing was not difficult but when I turned around and looked down I knew further climbing was not a good idea for me and since i heard 41 people have died climbing the rock, I did not want to become another statistic. I slide down the rock on my bottom! Hats off to those who climb the rock - not for me!
I am very impressed how the natural ambiance has been retained in the park area - no bike rentals, no tacky souvenirs (except aboriginal ones at the cultural centre), no photographers taking photos of you climbing the rock and no food vendors. You simply climb or walk around the rock - in fact there is no one at the base of the rock to ensure you are wearing appropriate footwear (I did leave my heels at home) nor is there any age restrictions to climb the rock and we did see one family start the climb with a child that would be no more than 5 years old!
We joined the 10am Mala Walk guided by one of the park rangers. This 1.5 hour tour that covers 2km around the base of the rock gave us an opportunity to learn about the cultural and beliefs of the aboriginal people who have inhabited this area for over 40,000 years. We were taken to areas where elders would teach the children about aboriginal beliefs, environment and laws - some of the drawings used for these teachings are still on the wall of the rock. The aboriginal people have much knowledge and respect for the land. This was especially important as their continued existence was dependent on food, water and shelter from the land.
After the guided tour gaille and I embarked on the 10.6km walk around the base of the rock which took us just under 2 hours. The midday weather was about 23degrees with not a cloud in the sky - the bluest sky I have ever seen. Looking at the rock from a distance it looks like it is just a large dome. Walking round the rock you get an opportunity to appreciate all the different surfaces, gorges, caves and sculpture rock formation - the following are a series of pictures as we made our way around the rock.
After our walk it was back to the luxurious cabin for a brief nap and then back to the rock for sunset. Although the sunset was lovely it was still not as spectacular as the sunset view we had from the gorge at the Olgas.
The sun is set by 6:30pm as it is winter here and the park closes at 7:30pm. We decided to take one last drive around the rock - we pulled over on the side of the road and got out of the car to take advantage of a great photo opportunity. All of a sudden we could hear barking and howling - we looked at each other and said 'DINGOS'. Our bones may have been aching from the walk but we moved pretty fast to get back into the car. We did turn off the car engine and SLIGHTLY wound down the windows so we could listen to the call of the dingos! There is suppose to be an abundance of wildlife in the park - dingos, emus, foxes, wild horses and believe it or not wild camels. We have not seen any wildlife, other than a few beautiful, colorful birds on our walk. Apparently the camels were imported in the 1800's and there are so many wild camels they are about to cull 50,000. However after hearing the dingos we drove just a few kilometers down the road and what should we see on the side of the road A DINGO! So gaille pulled over as I fumbled for my camera, took a photo and then the bloody thing decides to walk up to the side of the car - MY SIDE! Time for us to leave the park but now we feel satisfied having seen wildlife!
Off to Cairns for more adventures. . . stay tuned!