On this day back in 1985 I was at Ayer’s Rock – Uluru.
I stayed at the Ayers Rock Lodge and fully appreciated a bed and shower after a few days on the bus. Towards the back of the site, there were paths up the sand dunes which gave my first view of Ayers Rock, or Uluru as it is now called.
It looked unreal. One single gigantic red rock on a flat landscape. The Olga’s were visible in the distance, a group of individual round rocks. We’d passed Mount Connor on the drive in, a table top mountain, the third unique giant rock formation in the area.
I took a day tour to Uluru, which drove the 9 km around the base, stopped at cave paintings, at a wave cave, at Maggie Springs, a permanent waterhole. Our guide told us about the Aborigine legends. The Federal Government gave Uluru back to the Aborigines on this exact day in 1985, with a hand over ceremony in the shadow of the rock. The old Ayers Rock motel and campgrounds where Azaria Chamberlain was killed had been removed and a new tourist centre at Yulara, twenty kilometres from the rock was the new tourist resort.
The rock changes colour depending on the weather. The red colour is due to oxidisation, the rock is rusting. We saw the original grey colour on the inside of some of the caves. It’s surface is quite flaky and pieces do fall off. In places the rock sounds hollow, where it is lifting underneath.
The next day a few of us from the hostel drove back to Uluru and climbed it. I really don’t remember this. I wrote that I climbed but I didn’t know how. I hated it. It was very steep in places with a chain to help you up. Each time I stopped I debated whether to continue up or go back down. I did get to the top and saw the view. I’ve obviously blocked out that memory.
On the drive back we noticed that a few cars had stopped and people were taking photos, we stopped to and I got to see a four foot long goanna resting by the side of the road.
I joined an evening tour of the Olga’s which included a barbecue dinner. This guide showed us the flora, the desert oaks, the spinifex, before we hiked for an hour among the rocks. That was a nice climb with rewarding views at the top. We saw a beautiful sunset and enjoyed good food, including the traditional bush meal of damper and billy tea. As we drove back to the hostel and resort, there was spectacular lightening in the distance and rain heading our way.