Wednesday, May 7, 2008

06-07/05/08 – Uluru

We thought, before coming, that, having seen so many documentaries about Uluru (Ayers Rock), we might be blasé. Well, no, not at all. We took dozens of pictures, just like everyone else (I'll try to keep only the good ones!) because at every turn, at every change in sunlight, it's different. So you can be moving around it and it changes or just standing in one spot and it changes. The dominant color is red, but there are black streaks running down and holes in the surface that break the uniformity and let you work your imagination. At one point, there's some rock that fell away, showing some gray and tan inside and reddish drips on the surface, as if the whole thing was painted and the painter ran out of rust color.

On the way from Kings Canyon, there's another solitary mountain, Mt. Connor, which at first, we mistook for Uluru, thinking that it was awfully big for such a distance (still more than 100 km to go). Once that matter was cleared up at Mt. Connor lookout, we continued on and Uluru is indeed visible from very far away. This time, however, we did recognize the shape better. And off to the side is another formation, which look like gigantic eggs. That's Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and our impression of eggs was not too far off base because that is the local creation story.

Something about these creation stories – they are very similar to the Navajo creation stories. I wonder if anyone has done any comparative studies between Australian Aborigine and Native American stories.

On our way here we spotted some wild camels grazing. We knew there were wild camels and had even speculated that the large animals that left such large deposits along the roads might be camels. We also noticed that a tree, that I thought, at first, was a pine, looks very different when it is not yet a mature tree. It starts out as a bottle-brush-looking bush. As it grows taller, it continues to sprout leaves (they are so narrow and long, I mistook them for pine needles) all along its trunk. That gives it its tall bush appearance. Finally, at about 4-5 meters high, it loses the leaves on the lower trunk and starts forming branches at the top, but it's still a tall, narrow tree. Then, the branches become more hefty and leaves only grow at the extremities of them – finally a tree, an kind of oak, it seems. (What I took for pine cones are clustered acorns.)

We have now driven around Uluru and almost around Kata Tjuta. We took in the sunset last night and the sunrise this morning at Uluru. We have visited the cultural center, which is quite well organized. I know that I have a better understanding of the Anangu (Aborigines). I really would have liked to walk a bit more than we have, but today is not the day for me, so I have had time to write and load up some photos and we haven't had lunch yet. This afternoon, R&R. Tomorrow, we're off to Sydney and reunion with Emma and Laurent.

No comments: