Choosing to get some more sleep than the night before we agreed to wake up at the ripe old hour of 6 a.m. Unfortunately for Doug he was not able to comply with this plan and instead tossed and turned all night once again averaging about 2 hours. But, then again, he was able to get us up in time. Poor Doug.
We headed off in Abigail (what we’ve now taken to calling this car) to Kata Tjuta, a large rock similar to Uluru, but formed horizontally rather than vertically which led to more rocks and boulders being mixed amongst the sandstone. When we planned this portion of our trip, we intended to see Uluru, but upon arriving got Surprise! Kata Tjuta as a bonus. Yes, we had no idea this formation existed until our plane landed and we were handed a map of the National Park.
Off we went on the 50 km journey into the National Park to complete the two hikes offered at this rock and in no time we were treated to seeing an eagle in flight. It was going to be a good day! First we would take on the Valley of the Winds, which we hoped was actually windy because the flies were starting to get to us. Prepped with peanut butter and honey sandwiches and a plethora of water, we started the 4 hour long, difficult track as had been described in the pamphlet (Spoiler Alert: We finished it in 2.25 hours, though did agree with the difficult designation) up into the terrain of gorges surrounded by giant rock face after giant rock face, over boulder-filled terrain. After a good 20 minutes we certainly agreed that this trek would be more challenging than the ones the previous days, but offered similarly spectacular views. Whereas Uluru was smooth for the most part, Kata Tjuta looked more like the rusted anchor we saw back on the Great Ocean Road, a rusty red crust with pitted rocks of various sizes. Uluru is also one giant rock. Kata Tjuta, on the other hand, means “Many Heads” and is comprised on many large rocks. Oh, and there was also a Mark Twain sighting.
We did have to do a bit of scrambling over some rocks and had quite a bit of uphill in parts, but the views were well worth the challenge. From the high perspective we could see a third rock formation in the distance (What other secrets do you keep?) and the smoke of a distant brush fire (hopefully controlled). It was easy to imagine why tribes would want to hole up in these canyons with the larger prevalence of creek beds (though they were currently dry) and shade. Though, the wind wasn’t doing much to help with the fly situation. We were exhausted after 2 hours of up and down, so we sat down to enjoy our sandwiches and enjoy the view before completing the circuit.
After a quick bathroom break and water refill, off we went to the next hike through Walpa Gorge where we quickly learned was a less impressive version of Valley of the Winds but with significantly more flies. We hiked it as fast as we could, looking for wildlife where prompted (though unsuccessfully), and finished our tour of Kata Tjuta by 10:30 a.m.
On our way back Lynn did her best to spot kangaroos but was sadly unable to. Doug using his wits, consoled her by informing her that it was highly unlikely that kangaroos would be out in the heat of the day. He is so smart. We also debated taking the off road track into the bush that leads to Western Australia, but we both agreed that with Doug’s Eagle Scout skills and Lynn’s lack of any sort of survival skills this would be a very, very bad idea.
We picked up some tuna for lunch and salad for dinner from the IGA before reaching our lodge and sitting down for much needed sustenance. The remainder of the afternoon was spent lounging in the shade by the pool where Lynn continued to work her way through her very long history of Australia book and Doug did his very best to catch some more sleep.
At around 4 p.m. we took a walk to stretch our legs and to see the nearby camel farm that offers tours. We hiked through the sand dunes a little longer than we had expected and really wished we had brought water, but arrived just in time to see the camels eating dinner and being saddled for their evening tour. They are so silly! Why do their upper lips move so much when they chew? And there alongside the camels appeared to be a petting zoo featuring an emu, an ox, and you guessed it, a kangaroo! Lynn was excited to finally see another kangaroo, but a little sad to see it trapped.
We walked back through the dunes a slightly different way to capture a view of the very fake looking Uluru before going off trail, avoiding snake tracks, back to our lodge. Here we promptly downed a bottle of water each.
The remainder of the evening was spent catching one last glorious Uluru sunset and snacking on pizza and salad for dinner before tucking in for bed. Well, at least Lynn did. We’ll see how Doug fares.
Daily Walking Mileage: 11.2
- We learned of another popular tourist spot nearby which was also foreign to us: Kings Canyon. We won’t be making the 304 km drive there this trip, but a lot of the tour buses we have seen will be.
- 1868 was the last year transportation to Australia was used for convicts from Britain or its controlling territories. If you want to learn about literally every penal colony that was opened in this country, every governor during that time, their level of cruelty, and the appalling treatment of the aboriginals, Lynn recommend’s reading The Fatal Shore: The epic of Australia’s Founding by Robert Hughes.