This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

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2004 Travels September 7


A rest day today.

John spent much of the day on the computer. I read, sewed, and went for a walk around the village again.

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Our Yulara site

When we checked at the PO, there was no parcel. John was quite annoyed that it still had not arrived. He phoned and checked and was reassured that it had been sent, as promised, on Friday.

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Uluru. The climb track passes just to the right of the large hole.

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2004 Travels September 6


Lazed around camp in the morning.

After a fairly early lunch, went to the PO to check if, by some miracle, the brake parcel had arrived. We were not really expecting it, this soon, knowing that Express Mail does not quite work in remote areas!

We drove on, back out to Ayers Rock. There, we did the Waterholes Walk.

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This was something a little different, giving close up perspectives of part of the Rock base.

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We saw some art on a rock wall that neither of us had seen before – interesting, but not in the same dramatic class as the rock art of the Kimberley or Nourlangie in Kakadu.

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Somehow, we’d managed to luck doing this walk in between the peak times for tour groups and others, so did not encounter too many other people, which was good. I find that jostling with crowds of tourists always detracts from whatever natural attractions one has come to see. Selfish I know, but I want these places to myself!

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The chain section of the Rock climb – with no climbers on it




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2004 Travels September 4


After a late and leisurely breakfast, I walked to the retail centre.

Yulara was set out in a sort-of circle, with the various buildings and facilities arranged around the perimeter of a large, central,  low sand dune. There were walking tracks across this, so the trip to the shops was a very pleasant one.

The crest of the low dune was a viewing place, over the settlement and to Ayers Rock in the distance.

I put my photos in for processing, then walked around the shops, browsing, until it was time to go back and collect them. Bought the Weekend Australian and the Age. They were costly, having been air freighted in, but it was worth it to have a Victorian paper again. There was lots of reading for the money.

Bought some postcards to send to family and a couple of friends.

After lunch, we drove to Ayers Rock.

At the entrance station, negotiated with the lady there, to allow our Entry Pass, which normally lasts three days, to be able to be used for a longer period, should we need it.


We walked around the base of the Rock – some 9kms. Walked in a clockwise direction.

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We had done the walk before, but it was not something we were tired of. It was lovely flat walking, with an ever changing outlook, birds flitting about and always something new to catch the attention.

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Part way around was a bush shelter with a couple of interesting and “different” seats inside, constructed from local timbers and utilizing the natural curves of the wood. They were really quite beautiful.

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The shelter was the typical bush one – roofed with dried spinifex held together by netting wire.

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Most images one sees of Ayers Rock are – necessarily – from a distance, to capture it all. They tend to give the impression of a smooth and homogenous entity. But close up, the Rock’s surface is eroded and broken in places, forming some really interesting shapes and patterns.

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There are places where large chunks of rock have slipped and fallen down.

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There are places where water has eroded channels and little potholes.

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The red hops bushes were in flower, on clumps of bushes in amongst the dry grass. Very pretty.

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It was a really wonderful way to fill in the afternoon. I really appreciated the exercise, after all the travel sitting.

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Late in the afternoon, there was all the flurry  in the campground, of visitors heading out to view the sunset on Ayers Rock, then coming back from that. We had done the sunset thing before, so were not tempted to join them.




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1999 Travels June 6


When we woke, it was still raining, quite strongly. At intervals, through the night, had woken and heard the steady rain on the pop top roof. But inside the van was dry and snug.

I would expect lots of desert wild flowers to bloom in the next few weeks, after this soaking. There is much red mud in the caravan park. It has made the floors in the amenities areas really messy. It is quite cold, too, like a Melbourne winter day.

Visitors who have only scheduled a day or two here are not going to see Ayers Rock the way they expected it to look!

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Cloud sitting on the top of Ayers Rock

After breakfast, we drove out to the Rock, and drove around it, on the circuit road. We were looking to spot places where water was flowing down the Rock. Found some on the southern side – lots of little streams and small falls. We walked for a short while, and took photos – and got wet feet.

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A chain of water holes down the face of Ayers Rock


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Caves, and a little stream on the Ayers Rock surface

The Rock today is rather like it was when I first saw it – there was even some cloud drifting across the top. Ten years ago, I was in Alice Springs for meetings to do with work, and my boss organized a day trip tour for me, to Ayers Rock. It was raining there, and the top of the Rock was obscured in cloud. But a bus took us out for a close-up view. It was my first trip in a small plane. After we took off from Yulara to return, the pilot decided to try to give us a closer, low  aerial view of the Rock. I shall never forget him peering through the windscreen, saying “There’s another small plane up here, somewhere.” I was thinking never mind that, there’s also a bloody big rock in those clouds somewhere! Flying over the rugged ranges between Yulara and Alice Springs was awe inspiring.

I think we are most fortunate to have seen the Rock in all moods, in this way.

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Streams flowing down the Rock face – and a sheltered section that looks like a big wound on its side!

We got back to the van mid-afternoon. Read the papers some more. John watched football on TV. He drank the last of the beer – and it is expensive to replenish, here.

I made a batch of kumara soup and we had some of that for tea, then pasta and a tomato sauce, and yoghurt.

We both had a reasonably early night.

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1999 Travels June 3


We were up at a reasonable time. There is so much movement in this campground that it would be hard to sleep late.

I discovered that we had a significant leak – from the mains water system that links the outside supply to the sink tap. It is mostly rubber piping and something had loosened and allowed a steady drip of water into the cupboards under the sink. One big cooking pot was full of water and this had overflowed. There was water on the floor under my seat and along the back wall of the van, due to the slight lean of the van. The two bags of bread making flour stored under my seat were wet on the bases. I was able to retrieve some of the flour and store it in a container, and threw out about a half of each bag. Fortunately, flour is not too expensive.

John made repairs to the leaking item and I dried things out as much as I could. Must get into the habit of checking that area regularly and especially after rough road travel.

John decided that we would walk around the Rock again – the other way!

Took a packed lunch and drove to the Rock. Sat near the start of the climb and ate lunch, watching the climbers. I got chatting to some people sitting near us, who were interested in talking about Cape York. But our conversation was cut short when John said we must walk. I hoped they didn’t think us too rude!

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John setting his stop watch before setting off at a fast pace

After a few hundred metres, I stopped to take a photo and John went in front. Thereafter, he walked as fast as he could – I think he must have decided to see how quickly we could do the circuit. We had one brief water stop, although it was quite hot. We did the 10.6 circuit in just under two hours, which seemed to please him. But walking so fast meant one had to really focus on watching the track, rather than on looking about and enjoying the scenery.

Sat and watched the climbers some more – there is a strange fascination in this, it seems.

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The little dots against the sky are people ascending Ayers Rock

Drove back to Yulara, where I collected my photos and bought a paper. The mail was not in. Bought some fresh produce and withdrew some cash from the supermarket.

One good thing that happened in the day was that, as we entered the National park on the way to the Rock, the lady ranger was pleased to see us. She’d checked with her supervisor and she could extend the passes we bought yesterday, to cover our whole stay. It was very nice of her to take the trouble.

It looked like the sunset might be going to be nice, but we opted to shower while most people were away watching it.

Tea was tinned tomato soup, curried chicken and pineapple rice.

After tea John asked to look at the photos I’ve had processed here. This is unusual – but there were some that he had taken, in there.

John phoned S who was just back in PM after a few days at Bougainville. They talked for a while.

It was a chilly night, with the moon and stars really bright, and no cloud.

I stayed up till midnight – unusual for me – reading and knitting. John played computer until 5am.

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1999 Travels June 2


There was some rain in the early hours of this morning, enough to dampen the ground and make the air smell tartly sharp. The ground soon dried out as the sun got stronger. The cloud of the morning thinned out later in the day.

We have grapefruit for breakfast again. I have missed the morning citrus input.

I did two loads of washing. Our very grubby clothes from the last week came cleaner than I expected.

We drove to the shops, where I put in three rolls of film for processing.

Then we set out for Ayers Rock. At the Entry Station, about 8kms from Yulara, it cost us $30 for a 5 day Entry Pass into the National Park. We could not talk the lady into extending it for a sixth day, so our last day here will have to be a “veg” day – that’s ok.

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Closer to Ayers Rock. The climbing route is up the part that projects closest to us, here.

The drive to the Rock is interesting, as it looms ever larger each time the road twists about and gives a view to it. We went to the car park that is close to where the climbing route up the Rock starts. The climb was closed, because of the earlier wind and rain, but it was opened soon after we arrived, and the clusters of people waiting around stirred into action.

We had only planned to do the 10.6kms walk track around the base of the Rock. Back in 1993, John had wanted to do the climb, but we only reached part way up the chain section before he felt the effects of vertigo and we turned back. Since then, the aboriginal position about climbing has been made much stronger, so we would not consider trying again.

As well as our usual drinking water, we took a picnic sandwich lunch, teabags and coffee  and a thermos of hot water in the day pack, which I carried. We set out in a clockwise direction.

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The Rock looming over us at the start of the walk

Even though we have done this walk before, it is still a great experience. The Rock really is a special place. There seem to be more sacred Anangu sites that one is asked not to photograph, than when we were last here. I am sure that I have, at home, photos of some of the now banned views.

It also seems to have grown much more vegetation – grass and shrubs – around the track and Rock, since the last visit. Is this from a good current season, combined with fewer rabbits? And/or good work managing and revegetating? It looks superb, anyway.

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A water worn gully with little waterholes, some marked by vegetation

Ayers Rock is made of a hard type of sandstone that is coloured red by oxidation on the rock surface. Underneath the fairly thin layer of surface colour, the stone is grey.

Although it is a monolith – one big slab of rock – the surface has been shaped by wind and water erosion, and the effects of heating and cooling of the surface.  So there are gullies down from the top, in places. Some of these make a kind of chain of little waterholes, down the face, when it rains. In some other areas, the smooth surface has been broken when alternate heating and cooling of the rock has caused sheets to break away and fall down into piles at the base. Wind and water have caused some intricate patterns inside these holes. There are also caves in places – but these are where photos are banned.

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Large scale patterns where the rock surface has broken away – resembles a human brain?

It got quite warm as we walked, and the cloud burnt away. I was sorry that I’d opted for long trousers, having thought that it would be cool and windy.

Ate our lunch “around the back”, with about two thirds of the walk completed.

We saw a Thorny Devil on the walk! At last I have seen one in the wild. It was on bare ground, between grass clumps. It is a unique critter – definitely looks untouchable. It rocked back and forth, rather than going anywhere.

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Thorny Devil trying to pretend it can’t be seen

Also spotted three new birds – singing honeyeater, grey headed honeyeater and a wood swallow.

We were tired by the end of the walk, so we sat at the base of the climbing track, for nearly an hour, and followed people’s progress up and down. Could see several obviously very unfit people who were silly enough to tackle it. Watching same and guessing how far up they will get before giving up, was quite engrossing! The Anangu request not to climb is quite clear, at the base, on signs.

After that entertainment, drove back to Yulara and collected my photos at the shop. They did an excellent job on these, I thought. I bought an “Age” newspaper. We bought fly nets to wear over our heads, as the flies had been annoyingly sticky on the walk today.

Refuelled Truck – 90cpl here.

At the Post Office, I mailed off some cards. There was no mail in for us, yet. We had checked this morning and found that the mail is not sorted and available until 4.30pm. It was a good thing that we did check with them, because there is a man with the same name as John, who works at the Resort, and we could have had our mail go astray.

I picked in the washing – all still there, despite the long absence – and put it away.

Then we walked to the nearby lookout hill and watched the sunset. The Rock went a deep red-brown. I intend to try to get different sunset effects on film through our time here. On the way back, went via the shops – still open – and put in another roll of film. I go through it quickly in places like this.

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Waiting for the sunset at the Yulara Lookout

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A little later – sunset from the Yulara Lookout

Tea was vegie soup, macaroni cheese, yoghurt and banana.

It was quite a cool night. There was a bright moon and scudding clouds – very pretty.

I was pleasantly weary from the day’s  activities and went to bed about 9.30. John stayed up computering until about 1am.

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1999 Travels June 1


We had a quick and efficient departure from Erldunda, then joined the regular flow of vans, campers and travelling vehicles along the road to Yulara.

The country seemed far more interesting than I remember from last time – 1993. Maybe my appreciation of the outback has grown?

We had some stops along the way. First for coffee – from the thermos I carry. Then, for a photo shoot of Mt Connor, looming brilliantly to the south. I remembered how, last time, I first thought it was Ayers Rock – a common error, I believe.

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Mt Connor

We stopped at Curtin Springs Roadhouse to top up the diesel. John was getting worried about fuel consumption, even though he thought we had a tail wind. At $1 a litre, it was very expensive, so he only put in 20 litres, being certain it would be cheaper at Yulara.

Closer to Yulara, for about the last 25kms, there were small gangs of aboriginal workers out cleaning along the roadsides. The whole area looked quite spotless.

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The first sight of Ayers Rock

The Ayers Rock Resort – the only place where one can camp – charged us $26 a night, for a powered site, which is the most we have ever paid. The seventh night is free, though not that many stay that long.

We were given a good site – maybe because we are unusual and are booked in for a week! We have been here before and believe we will have no trouble filling in a week. Our site backs onto a reservation, so we have shade from the trees there and around the site in general, and only side neighbours, who will no doubt change several times during  our stay here.

This is another place where people do not allow enough time to see what is here. But I guess it looks deceptive on the maps too, and on the brochures. One sunset view of the Rock, one quick drive out to the Rock and to look at the Olgas; it will only take a day, and one can even climb the Rock in that time, if they want. There – seen it all! There is little real appreciation of the changing moods and light there is out here. And so many travellers, even in this day and age, think Ayers Rock is close to Alice Springs, rather than about 450kms by road.

We set up, then went to look at the group  of shops that is in the heart of the Resort complex, because I couldn’t remember what was there. And I wanted to go to the Visitors Centre.

I bought maps of Watarrka (Kings Canyon) and the West McDonnell Ranges – graphically presented ones, excellent.

Got today’s Australian – fresh news! Bought food at the supermarket, mostly fresh stuff. The prices were, I thought, not too bad, given the distances involved in getting produce here. Got some cash out – we were running low, having been in so many places lately that didn’t “do” cards.

There was, obviously, heaps of souvenir stocks at the shops and many costly items, as one would expect here.  An example was $279 for a hand knitted pullover that I thought was rather poorly made. There were some nice T shirts and polo shirts, but they are a bit expensive – will have to think about those.

John put in some time repairing the back door lock on Truck, which had decided not to work. He eventually fixed it and was quite pleased with himself.

We showered while the tourist hordes were out watching the sunset! There are several coach camping groups in the campground and I did not want to be competing with them, later, for bathroom space.

Tea was vegie soup, steak with onions, fries, eggs for John and tomatoes for me.

We watched some TV – the signal is good, here.

I got tired early and went to bed. John stayed up playing his computer game until 4am! He has had a break through in the game.

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Erldunda to Yulara