74 km Over the Border

With tummys still full from the remnants of last night’s monster buffet, we made it to a free camp 416 km from Yulara. We were all suffering from the ‘high temperatures equals early starts’ syndrome from the last few days. The morning we left was no exception. We were up before dawn to view the sunrise and see if Uluru was open to climb.

P1070965A fraction of the crowd assembled. Some assured me they were on buses by 04:45

The dawn was a clouded out washout, and our disappointment was reflected with the tired grumbles from the hundreds of others who were there too – tourists can be so hard to please! The sun finally broke through the clouds well after dawn, casting magnificent dawn soaked colours across the face of Uluru. By this time the tourist buses had left us in peace.

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The boys had convinced themselves that they wanted to climb The Rock with me so back we were at 7am at the base – it was shut, as it had been every day we had been here. The reason given was forceast afternoon rain (40% chance of 1 to 5 mm) even though it would have shut at 8am due to temps exceeding 36 C anyway.

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This was getting to be beyond a joke. A condition of the handover by Sir Ninian Stephen to the Traditional Owners 30 years ago was that the rock remain open to visitors to climb. It is now closed seemingly at every opportunity. The unfortunate reality is that it is dangerous, and 39 people have died, which is understandably upsetting to the TO’s, who feel it is happening ‘under their watch on their rock’. Still, it is a world heritage site open to all, and it should be either open, with appropriate safety considerations, or shut. The TO’s do request that people not climb because it is a place of cultural significance, but no further explanation is offered. We have encountered these restrictions several times now, and I suspect the very original reasons have been safety related – i.e. to stop young indigenous men from dying, make said site sacred to keep people away. This makes perfect sense in an ancient context, but I feel is no longer relevant given advances in equipment, weather forecasting and safety.

After leaving Yulara we stopped in to check out the views of the Mt Connor mesa, very impressive even though we were 30 or so kilometres away.

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Once we hit the Stuart Highway, we kept an eye out for ‘solar challengers’, the annual solar race from Darwin to Adelaide. We spoke to officials at one check point to see what was going on, and saw one unfortunate entrant from Thailand with his solar contraption ingloriously strapped to a truck. His broke down 12 km out of Darwin and had been on the truck even since.  By chance the odometer showed exactly 220,000 kilometres as we arrived  at our free camp which was a pleasant enough car park a few hundred metres off the road. We watched a perfect sunset as a few final road trains rumbled past.

DSC_5652Our ninth border crossing in 10 months!

3 thoughts on “74 km Over the Border

  1. Last week Les saw two of the entrants in the solar car race on display in Martin Place. They were both from the Netherlands but not the one that won the race.

  2. Hi all I am so sorry but your comments on 1st November about Uluru and Kata Tjuta refuse to come up and the computer just shuts down. First time we have had problems bringing up your stories and photos on 1st November..
    We were particularly interested about you being unable to climb Uluru. I wanted to do it but Les felt he shouldn’t and then our driver, Tim, told us that he had been a guide on the Rock and had has seen so many accidents, some fatal, that he preferred that no one on our bus tour climb. BUT we did have longer in The Olgas and did some of the more difficult climbs there, I was very disappointed as I was younger and fitter but I bowed down to his request not to climb,. Two of our Swiss passengers were the only ones to do so and didn’t make it all the way to the top anyway!!! Love Ros

  3. I did forget to tell you that the reason Les felt he shouldn’t walk was because this tour Les had a knee arthroscopy and this was the first time it would have been seriously tested. The Olgas being smaller were no trouble to him although he did take it very carefully. We also managed to photograph THE ROCK at sunrise and sunset and it just amazed us that the colours were all so different.

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