A walk around Uluru
Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2007
In the darkness of early morning, Uluru gives a sinister appearance as it looms up from the ground. It can barely be made out amongst the surrounding landscape. There is stillness in the air, which feels heavy and listless. People around are talking in whispers, as though by speaking loudly, they may awaken some mystic creature or stir the spirits of people a long time dead. They slowly mingle, finding vantage points in which to witness the promised sights to come. They sit on folding camping chairs or just stand around setting up tripods for their cameras, or simply nestling a hot drink in cupped hands to take the morning chill out of their bones.
Soon the dawn begins to waken the sleeping world. One hardly notices the birds which are the first of nature’s sounds. As the sun inches its path upwards, a simple thread of light begins to infuse the surrounding landscape. Slowly, ever so slowly, the Rock takes on a purple hue, defining its outline against the lightening sky. Seeing its colour begin to blend with the soil, richly deep ochre, around it, is wondrous. In the blink of an eye the colour changes again. This time my view is feasting the brightest of all oranges. The brilliance lasting only moments until at last, morning returns it to its natural shade of brown.
Chairs are folded, cameras packed up, and coffee cups discarded into waste disposal bags provided. We tourists re-board our allocated coaches to be deposited at the next point of interest. Here the face of Uluru takes on a different appearance. It seems knarred and angry, as though years of exposure to the elements has roughened its character. Yet, in some respects, its ruggedness makes it seem truly beautiful, drawing you in, willing you to embrace it. Behind its visible exterior, as we follow our tour guide along a winding path, we are treated to an unexpected sight in the middle of this desert plain – water. A small pond of captured rain water is found hidden within the rocky outcrop. It is wide and deep enough to cater for water birds and animals alike. Vegetation springs up around it. Thick and luscious, and so very, very green!
Nearby, beneath an outcrop which is more like a shallow cave, evidence of indigenous drawings are to be seen scratched and painted on the walls and ceiling. Crude, swirling patterns and other shapes representing wildlife of sorts reach out in their earthy colours of white, red, brown and black. In this wild, remote place it seems strangely comforting to witness evidence of human life from a very distant past. The sensation in ones mind is such that despite being amongst others, walking around Uluru gives a feeling of being at peace.
The closeness to such a large geological and ancient outcrop of rock which has been thrust upwards from beneath the surface, then tilted so far over that the sedimentary layers are seen standing vertically, takes your breath away. When you see with your own eyes the forces of nature at work, you can’t help but feel of a greater being’s hand controlling and shaping our beautiful planet.
From Uluru we are returned to our hotel, the Desert Gardens, to freshen up and relax in preparation for the evening’s planned dinner – “The Sounds of Silence” is an experience as delightful as Uluru itself. Having been driven out into the desert we are greeted by a team of professional catering personnel. We find ourselves standing on a small sand dune with Uluru in the distance once again a menacing shade of purple on one side, and the, just as magnificent, Kata Tjuta range on the other. Here we are offered glasses of champagne and appetisers to enjoy whilst taking in the view. As the sun descends plunging us into darkness we are led to our tables which are all illuminated by candle light.
Dinner itself is a buffet style meal of the help yourself variety. A vast array of salads and meats, including kangaroo, crocodile, and Emu, are available to sample and enjoy. With wine flowing never-endingly it is little wonder you are made to feel special. The magic of the night only truly becomes apparent when an astrologer makes his entrance to “show” us the night sky, with its billions of stars and constellations. We are awe-struck as he indicates using a laser pointer, Alpha Centauri amongst the richly thick Milky Way Galaxy and the ever present Crux Australis or Southern Cross as we best know it. He then points further out in the deeper reaches of space to show us Hydra and Virgo telling us of distances to them which are unimaginable, and one can’t help but wonder whether the make-believe stories of Star Trek and Star Wars will ever come to reality for Mankind in our distant future? Will man ever be able to travel faster than the speed of light to reach these wondrous destinations? One can only hope and believe it will happen, and because of my own personal beliefs I hope I will live again during that time so that I can experience such a wondrous feat.
After the meal is ended we are once again driven to our respective hotels, to enjoy a well-deserved night of slumber and to look forward to another day amongst the ancient landscape. Early the following morning, before the sun rises, we make our way onto the hotel’s roof terrace and wait to see the magical colour changes of Uluru. Though we are not “up close and personal” with it this particular morning, even from this great distance the transformation of the different hues of the rock as the sun slowly rises has a haunting effect. You cannot help but stare at it, feeling absorbed by it, feeling Goosebumps crawling over your skin. With a sigh of satisfaction we return to our room and prepare for the day. We are off for a walk around Kata Tjuta followed by a planned barbeque at sunset. No doubt it will be another superb day; the last of our mini-break before we fly back to Sydney and step back into reality with only the memories of our trip to keep us going until the next adventure………
RLB – Tomewriter