Despite some negative reviews from another traveller, the Nortons journey to Australia's red heart was filled with awe & inspiration . . .
Yesterday, a bloke tried to tell me that driving up to Cape York was a seriously boring anti climax – almost as boring as driving into the Red Centre to see Uluru. I was gobsmacked! Having only recently excited the area, we were still all reeling in awe of the magnificence and sheer drama this special part of our country offered us. Having not yet done any of the Cape, I’ll reserve my judgement on that bit of our trip till after I have done it, but this goes to show how sometimes, other people can have such a different perspective on the same thing.
The anticipation of driving into Yulura and getting your first glimpse of that big old rock on the landscape is all part of the fun, especially for the kids. Both Mark and I had visited the rock many years before on our own family holidays, but it still is a surprise how wooded the desert landscapes is. Pale yellow and feathery spinifex grasses brushing at the dark heels of old man desert oak, set against the coral orange of the sand and cyan sky, really is jaw dropping. And that’s before you even set sights on the geology!
Our first viewing of Uluru was from a sand hill within the campgrounds… the dusky colours of sunset reflecting on the rock evoking romantic notions in all the grown ups. The kids just rolled around in the sand, but I am sure they appreciated it somehow. We generally pretend they aren’t ours when they do that at sunset viewing spots these days.
If you drag a family load of bikes around the country, you better get them out to lap the Rock at the very least, and this turned out to be a good option for our shorter legged members… it’s a long walk! However it simply never fails to disappoint. If you aren’t moved in someway by the grandness and beauty of this geological monolith, this icon of Australia - well I don’t know what will impress you! It’s simply marvellous, majestic, magical and moving.
There is a constant debate around the issue of climbing – albeit one that is about to be moot with the upcoming official closure of the ability to climb, and highlighted only recently by another distressing death. Admittedly we have both climbed when there was less pressure and education around the cultural impact on the indigenous owners.
However I certainly wouldn’t consider the climb now, considering a particular group of people are gently and respectfully asking us not to. In addition, I was interested to learn of the environmental impacts climbing has had – all that exertion getting to the top causes many people to have bowel movements as they summit, and with no facilities to speak of they wander off track to some hidden valley and relive themselves, causing a biohazard to the water pools and the flora and fauna that inhabit the surrounds below… ew! Who would have thunk it! The educational Marla walk at the base is fascinating and there are so many other ways to enjoy this awesome place, we just didn’t feel it was the ‘pinnacle’ of the experience. Being on top of the best thing to look at makes no sense anyway.
Kata Tjuta is equally astonishing, the long circuit hike a stretch for our youngest, but she made it without too much complaint. (She has come a long way since whinging about 100m walks in Tasmania a few months ago.) While wandering through the towering walls of deep russet rock on the Valley of the Winds walk, you begin to feel particularly insignificant in relation to the stretch of time our old planet has been around for. Innumerable rocks and boulders, weathered to roundness, sit embedded deep in sediment, further weathered to sheer flat walls that rise all around you. It makes my brain hurt to consider how long this process took.
There is little doubt how these two weighty features on the landscape became intensely scared sites to the Anangu people of the area. You simply feel awestruck by the size of the rocks, the quiet, the colour and the elements. I was inspired the first time I came to this area as a young teen with my family, and I am inspired again as an adult. I really hope my children, as young as they are, will remember this bit of our trip as a highlight, and it inspires them to keep exploring, keep learning, and keep understanding the history that has come before us. The big red centre of our country is stuck in my heart for good.
A Fanatical Sabbatical
‘Mark, Kim and the kids are leaving behind their home in the Adelaide Hills to jaunt around the country side while they manage their arborist business remotely. Normally enrolled in ‘bush school’, they thought they could push the kids outdoor eduction experience a little further by living outside for a year.
And follow them on Facebook @AFanaticalSabbatical