We said our goodbyes to Rob and Denise, they turned left at the Lasseter Highway intersection and headed to Coober Pedy, while we turned right for Uluru.
We refueled at Curtin Springs, saw some movie stars in the process of filming (no, didn’t recognise any of them) and a few people running around with cameras trying to score a photo (didn’t happen).
Mount Connor is a standout in the low scrubby country around Curtin Springs and at first we thought we could see Uluru, fairly quickly realised it wasn’t quite to right shape and we still around 100 kilometres to reach Uluru.
The Uluru Resort was offering 4 nights for the price of 3 so we took it, found our site and settled in. We knew a front would be crossing our path in the next day or so and were hoping to see the waterfalls flowing on Uluru. By late afternoon the cloud had set in, the lightening was spectacular along with rumbling thunder.
Day 2, we woke to cloud, rain and 14° C; time to breakout the jeans and jumpers once again. On our way to Kata-Tjuta (The Olgas), we saw the sign for The Great Central Highway which also stated it was 200 kilometres to the West Australian border. On a map the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park appears to be just outside Alice Springs when in reality it is around 200 kilometres south to the turnoff and another 260 kilometres west to the resort (463 kilometres in total). From the Dune Viewing Platform, Kata Tjuta was shrouded in cloud and mist, giving a mysterious feeling to the surroundings.
At the Valley of the Winds we donned our rain coats and walked the few kilometres to the gorge lookout where the winds were certainly quite strong.
Next was the Walpa Gorge, once again stunning scenery, the wildflowers and the smokey green shrubbery contrasting the orange vermillion of these massive rocks. We probably spent 3-4 hours just wandering around taking in the glorious sights and sounds of this significant indigenous place.
Day 3, once again we woke to the rain, cloud and 12° C and once again it was jeans, jumpers and raincoats. The closer we were to Uluru the more insignificant we felt; this ‘rock’ is an awesome monolith which extend 5-6 kilometres into the earth. The caves, crates and hollows that create the water falls all add to the history and spirituality of this amazing place. We drove the perimeter (about 10 kilometres) stopping for our first walk at the Cultural Centre. There is so much to see, watch, listen and read it would take a day to absorb all the information, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! Our next main stop was the Kuniya Walk which has a viewing platform into a small cave and then further on a pool created from water running off the side of the rock. This site provides the most reliable water source, available in the area. Once again nature at her best and most beautiful.
I would say without a second thought this is now the most special place on our trip to date. Lake Argyle is still up there, but is completely man made. The Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park has been created by Mother Nature, who is much cleverer than man!
Last evening in Yulara we walked to the resort lookout to witness the sunset effect on Uluru and to be honest we were disappointed. There was a reasonable amount of cloud which may have affected the changing of the colours but overall we witnessed better sunsets at free campsites. Longreach Waterhole in particular is a god example.
With reluctance our time at Uluru has come to an end and it is time to move on to our next adventure. We made a photo stop at the Mount Connor lookout and then started to search for a camp for the night. Kernot Range Rest Area met all out criteria, so stop we did, set up and settled in. Only one other camper stopped the night in the rest area, bit surprised!
Next morning we refuelled at Erldunda, checked emails etc while we had service and then turned right on to the Stuart Highway, heading south. The surrounding terrain is still very green, swathes of wildflowers cover the road verge in contrast with the rocky outcrops on the landscape. Drove through Kulgera, stopped for lunch in the rest area at the NT-SA border. Agnes Creek Rest Area was our stop for the night; we arrived around 1.30ish and by 4pm there was 10 of us camped up for the night.
We left camp about 9.15am, just a little way down the road a magnificent Palomino looking horse crossed the road with more on the verge and at the dam just a little way in the bush. I couldn’t say whether they were wild or not, but the herd was in magnificent condition. Then another 200-300 hundred metres down the road were 2 magnificent wedge tail eagles feeding on road kill. What an amazing morning so far…
We refuelled at Marla, once again checked our emails, made a few calls while we had service and then continue dour journey south. We stopped at the Marla South Rest Area for lunch and while there a very long container train passed heading south, the friendly driver tooting a ‘hello’.
Back on the road more wildlife appeared with a metre long lizard trying to cross the road. He did a good job of avoiding traffic in both directions, making it to the other side.
As we wanted to arrive in Coober Pedy on a week day (today was Sunday)we spent one more night free camping about 80 kilometres north of town at Pootnoura Rest Area. Nice spot with pretty wildflowers but the flies and mosquitos were out in force!!