Coated in Red Dust
All that rattling down the GCR left us completely coated in dust. It had needled right through every little gap and crevice. We were so pleased to be in a campground with a shower. After a bit of a clean up once we arrived, we all sat down to rest and relax. The amazing attractions of the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park would have to wait until the next day. We were buggered and had no energy to spare.
Exploring the National Park
After a good rest, we were still tired! We only had 2 full days to see the sights so we pushed through and went to explore Uluru.
It truly is an incredible sight. This mammoth rock juts out of the ground out of nowhere. It is huge! We played a game to try and think of all the words we could come up with to describe how big it was. Massive, Monstrous, Huge, Giant, Mammoth, Enormous, Gigantic…
I was fascinated with the geology of the area, but god knows if I could keep it all in my mind! All I remember is that it used to be below a giant inland sea which dried up and that Uluru is a sandstone which is a different type of rock to Kata Tjuta.
The Cultural Centre
The Cultural Centre tells you about some of the stories of Uluru shared by the traditional owners. It was interesting to read and learn these stories first as it added to the sights that you would see as you walked around the rock itself.
Apparently the traditional owners of the area have their own stories about how Uluru was created, however these stories are sacred and cannot be shared with the uninitiated. I would love to see how these stories match up to the geology of the area.
Taking a Long Walk
We decided to do a couple of the shorter walks, but it would have still been about 6km in total by the end of the walk. This was the first long walk with Little Lala in tow, and we had to play hardball and lay down the law right from the beginning.
Oh my god, have you ever tried to do a long walk with a five year old???? They can really take all the joy and excitement out of it and turn it into excruciating torture. I wanted to tear my own hair out with frustration, but I wasn’t going to back down. I knew that this trip would be full of long walks so Lala had to get used to them.
We ended up having a big talk about how we all have to do things that others in our family want to do so we can all enjoy this trip. We told her that if she completed the whole walk without any complaining we would take her to the pool for a swim later on, which was something that she wanted to do. She agreed and the rest of the walk was peppered with Lala saying, ‘Mum, I’m not complaining. That’s good, isn’t it?’.
So she was rewarded with a swim in the afternoon. I changed into my bathers to take her in the pool but couldn’t get in past my ankles. It was freezing! Arctic. Icy. I have never felt water that cold before. Lala wasn’t fussed though, she just wanted to swim. After about 10 minutes she was shaking so much I was worried she would get hypothermia so we insisted she gets out of the water and has a play at the playground instead.
The next day we went to explore Kata Tjuta. We did a short 2.6km walk to one of the gorges. It was a very rocky walk and was a bit challenging for my ankle which was still healing. All of the unsteady ground was probably really good for it, but I had to rest it for a few hours afterwards.
Kata Tjuta is equally as amazing as Uluru but in a totally different way. What is amazing about Uluru is that it is one massive rock. It is one huge piece with nothing else for miles around it. What is amazing about Kata Tjuta is the rounded formations of multiple huge rocks. It also rises out of the ground with nothing else around it for miles but the shapes and light play on the rock are more varied than Uluru.
Both are fascinating.
Two Days is Not Enough for Slow Travelers
Two days is definitely not enough time to explore the area. We could have easily spent a week here and will return at a later time to do the longer walks.
What we have learnt about ourselves is that we do not like to be rushed.
Long term travel means that this is our life now and we can’t be rushing from one place to the other. We need time and space to enjoy ourselves and also to do the normal everyday things that life requires. We can’t just leave all the washing until we get home, we need to be on top of it every day. We need to be homeschooling regularly. And, although I am getting used to ‘çamp clean’, I need to live in a somewhat reasonable environment.
So after 2 short days it was time to pack up and get on the road again. We all agreed it was time to stop rushing.
Camping in a Dust Bowl
Kings Canyon was our next port of call, but all the camping was expensive and it would mean another long hike straight away, when we were all hanging to chill out. After a bit of research we decided to head to Curtain Springs free camp for a couple of days.
Curtain Springs is a cattle station which is also famous for being the home of Mt Connor – another giant monolith in the area that is less well known.
They have a very popular free camp which you are welcome to use and they offer a bunch of other services for a cost. We bought a few treats from their shop while we were there and enjoyed having the time to just chill out.
Located only 80km from Yulara, when we got in we set up camp and sat back to do some relaxing. I spent the rest of the day lying in bed reading my book, Lala watched a couple of movies and El Enrique pulled out his guitar. Bliss. (About bloody time too!)
We had thought that we would stay there for about 3 days but after one full day we had enough. It was a massive dust bowl and gusts of wind would blow giant pillows of dust right through camp.
It was a soft, fine red dust. You would step in it and a little puff of dust would float up and coat your entire foot in red. We were getting filthy. It was time to move on.
Kings Canyon is Amazing
I don’t know if it was the fact that we were more rested or because we got to do the whole of the Rim Walk, but Kings Canyon could almost beat Uluru and Kata Tjuta. This place is incredible. You can read more about it in my comprehensive guide to the Red Centre.
Little Lala was a trooper and enjoyed the walk, although she was very tired at the end of the 5 hours we spent doing the 6km walk. We deliberately took our time and we stopped quite a few times for food and water. It’s also great to stop on walks like that just to pause and look around every now and then. I took so many photos and the views on the walk seemed to get better and better as we went on.
We treated ourselves to an ice cream each once we got back to the station. $18.50 later for 3 ice creams, and I have vowed to buy ice creams at the supermarket occasionally and not to spend that much on a treat again. Ouch.
Dingoes at Home at Kings Creek Station
We stayed at Kings Creek Station for 2 nights so that we could do the Kings Canyon walk. We had heard that dingoes are around but the day after our walk we woke up and rubbish was strewn around the whole campsite. I mean everywhere. Every bin had been rummaged through including the bins in the toilet. Yuck.
Our camping neighbor – a French backpacker – had been trapped in the toilet for 35 minutes during the night while a dingo was in there. The toilet doors are very short with heaps of room at the bottom for a dingo to get in and out. She said that she had been standing on the toilet trying to shoo the dingo away, screaming for help for 35 minutes, but no one heard her and no one came to help. She was quite traumatized.
Exploring a Meteorite Crater and Learning about Shooting Stars
Alice Springs was next on our agenda, but while we were looking at our map to work out our route we noticed a little campsite called Henbury Meteorite Crater Reserve. El Enrique was in heaven because it fitted his definition of a shortcut!
The site is managed by NT Parks and Wildlife and we loved it here. It was only a short 1.5km walk around the craters with lots of information panels as you go. We found a page on Meteorites in Lala’s science book and did a few homeschooling activities.
The whole area is scattered with rocks and we picked up countless interesting rocks with amazing colours and patterns, while we wondered what a meteorite fragment would look like. One of the information boards told us that a piece of the meteorite that had landed here 4000 years ago was now stored in the museum at Alice Springs so that was promptly put on the agenda.
We felt like we had plenty of time to relax here, but we were also fascinated with the environment. Finally we felt relaxed. The rushing was over and now we could take our time and really enjoy ourselves.
Alice Springs was our next stop and once we got there we were planning a big clean up. Time to shake off some of this red dust (until we get filthy again!).
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