I didn't know much about Australia (beyond Crocodile Dundee and the Sydney Opera House) before we traveled there, but I knew I wanted to see Uluru. There's something about a giant rock in the middle of a flat plain that draws you in. Geology, Aboriginal heritage, and a bit of spirituality all mixed into one humongous red stone.
Our first glimpse! Love the colors in this photo:
A popular activity in the park is watching the sun come up and go down. We started on the backside for a sunset, not as colorful for sunset viewing but still an interesting angle.
Oh look, spinifex! This spiky plant had been a topic of discussion for several months as we prepared for the upcoming rogaine near Alice Springs. We had been told to get better shoes to keep the spikes from poking our feet. Lots of shoe discussions and brainstorms. More on that in a future post, but it was fun to finally see the plant that had garnered all this attention. Oh, and this was the "soft" version?
As an aside, I happened to see this entry in a book at a roadhouse on the way there, describing how Aboriginal people use spinifex resin to fasten spear blades and points to throwing shafts. Good to know the plant has some usefulness, I'll try to remember that when I'm getting poked and annoyed.
Sunset at Uluru, with the Kata Tjuta rocks in the background on the left:
And now... sunrise!
Good morning Uluru! Happily we were getting near the end of the coldest part of our trip, but for now we were still bundled up every morning:
Solar panels for John's inspection:
We weren't going to climb Uluru anyway - I wish the park would just close the trail completely and respect the wishes of the Aboriginal people.
Sandstone is my favorite rock. I love the shapes that result from water and wind erosion, and the colors can be so striking.
Part of a ranger walk, always a national park highlight:
A pool hidden at the base of the rock, an important source of water:
Jucy at Uluru!
We went on a run on the trail that circles the base. I was struck by the variation in shapes as we went around:
I ran clockwise and John went anticlockwise (trying to be a little bit Aussie with the terminology). Here he is passing me in the other direction.
More interesting shapes:
Another pretty pool of water:
Petroglyphs on an under-hanging rock:
Fun little view:
Still more scenery from a different angle - I really enjoyed the tour and seeing all sides up close.
Jucy at the sunset viewing spot:
Photographers preparing for the sunset:
Not professional quality, but the little camera captured a few different colors as the light changed:
A glow on the ridges:
And... darkness closes in:
Thank you Uluru, that was special.