After a hot and fly hassled lunch at the junction of Lasseter’s Hwy and Luritja Road we pulled into Yulara which is basically the Ayers Rock Resort township. After our super early morning start and the climbing temps we retreated for an early dinner at mum and dad’s apartment in the blissfully cool air conditioning. With temperatures forecast to reach 40 C on each of our 3 days and most walks being closed early if temps are forecasted above 36 C a strategy of early starts seemed to be in order.
So on our first morning we checked out Uluru in the car. None of us had been here before and as a rock it certainly doesn’t disappoint. What surprised me was the landscape around the rock. The land was undulating and dotted with desert she-oaks. Around the base there are small patches of dense trees with lots of folds and gullies. Overall much more variety than I was expecting. We did a few short walks and checked out the cultural centre/visitor info centre before retiring back to the air-con.
Julian and I headed out later in the day (childless), chilled champagne and “Ayers Wok” takeaway in hand to watch the sunset over Uluru and belatedly celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. On the way out we spotted some shafts of sun breaking through to highlight Kata-Tjuta. Given the cloud cover we only got a few minutes of “colour” on Uluru before the sun went down but we both thoroughly enjoyed the peace and quiet!
Next morning it was up-and-at-em – the Olgas or Kata-Tjuta. At our first stop, a “viewing platform”, we met Grandma and Grandpa and enjoyed looking at these amazing rock formations in the early morning light.
Next stop was Valley of the Winds walk. The grandparents wilted after the first 1.5km, the kids and I bailed at the second lookout after walking 4.5km leaving Julian to complete the rest of the 7.5km loop walk. The second lookout was spectacular and the rocks seemed even more impressive than Uluru mainly due to them towering above you on all sides. (J – Kata Tjuta is almost 200 m higher than Uluru).
With all the boys keen to climb Uluru we were up early again the next morning. If temps above 36 degrees are forecast the climb is closed at 8am, given they don’t open it until 7am this leaves only an hours window in which to commence your ascent. There was disappointment all round when the sign read ‘closed due to wind’. Plan B sprang into action and we unloaded our bikes and rode around the base instead.
We were thrilled to spot a thorny devil on the path about half way round and glad to have completed the ride by 10am. (J – the changes in the shape of the rock are really noticeable on the 9 km base ride. The typical steep-sided postcard views are those taken from the designated viewing platforms).
As a treat on our last night Grandma and Grandpa took us all out to dinner. The boys were in seventh heaven and were very excited, it was like no buffet they’d seen before. Lots and lots of delicious food and a chocolate fountain to top it all off! We tried to instil all of the important strategies of buffet dining – do not fill up on rice, bread or pasta – leave room for desert. Sam did well managing to leave room to try all seven deserts plus have two attacks at the chocolate fountain. Luckily he’s a growing boy. James made a fatal error with a big bowl of rice early on. Not to worry as they both loved it.