A Travellerspoint blog

Coober Pedy to Yulara

...we leave South Australia behind but not the flies!

sunny 26 °C
View Sam Smart in World War II & Return to complete the Lap on SteveJD's travel map.

When we got to the opal fields with Aaron, it had been too dark to take useful photos so we remedied that on the way out and up the Stuart Highway.

The 'Lunar' landscape on the outskirts of Coober Pedy

The 'Lunar' landscape on the outskirts of Coober Pedy

Once into the Northern Territory, we stopped at Kulgera Roadhouse for a light lunch. This is one of several quirky Outback pubs decorated with bras, caps and...well, you name it and it is probably hanging up there somewhere.

d0ffcd10-7915-11e9-8d0a-737b581c2f12.jpgThe roadhouse and a Hills Hoist full of shoes - as you do!

The roadhouse and a Hills Hoist full of shoes - as you do!

d3618ad0-7915-11e9-9534-a15afac363ad.jpgA couple of views of the internal decor

A couple of views of the internal decor

We had to turn off the Stuart Highway and it was not long before we had a good view of 'Fuluru'. Mt Conner is actually a very large mesa in appearance with a different shape from Uluru but we were told that some visitors saw this, took photos and turned back! It is actually a horseshoe-shaped inselberg situated on private property. I would guess that, up close, it would be very impressive and interesting.

Mt Conner - an impressive sight

Mt Conner - an impressive sight

As we travelled on, we seemed to experience a little more undulation and even some woodland although we soon started to hit the edge of the Tanami Desert and a new tree (to us) became predominant - the Desert Oak. This belongs to the casuarina family (also known as she-oaks) which have lovely wispy foliage. Many looked very weak and spindly but, apparently, once their roots get down about 40ft and they start getting water, they grow into the lovely healthy trees that we saw so often.

Having checked in at "Rip-off City", also known as Yulara, we drove out to Uluru to watch the sunset on the rock - along with one or two other people. We didn't experience a startling range of colours but it is quite spectacular. Nonetheless, our first impression was - "OK it's a big rock...and...?".

First sight at sunset but under cloud

First sight at sunset but under cloud

The sparse clouds catch some colour

The sparse clouds catch some colour

86a86780-7d2b-11e9-a990-bd63fb94a18f.jpgThe rock gets some sunset colour, with crowds of viewers

The rock gets some sunset colour, with crowds of viewers

A close view as the sun set

A close view as the sun set

We stayed at the Outback Pioneer Hotel which was about the least expensive place in Yulara (other than camping!), but was the most expensive accommodation we have stayed in on our travels. And what did we get for our money? A 'budget' cabin which lived up to its description rather than its cost! Not impressive in such a highly rated 'township'.

The following day we saw the rock in different light, perhaps more subdued than the sunset sighting.

Morning light on Uluru-Ayers Rocks

Morning light on Uluru-Ayers Rocks

After this quick visit, we chose to head for Kata Tjuta-Olgas (actually Mt Olga is only one of the rounded formations known as bornhardts, named after the German geologist who first described the type of formation - one or more domed rocks). Although not that far from Uluru, Kata Tjuta is slightly different geologically. We opted to walk the Walpa Gorge Trail which was fascinating and well worth the effort, unfit as we are! We would like to have walked in the Valley of the Winds but we had to get back to get ready for our pickup to see the Field of Light installation.

View of KataTjuta-The Olgas from dune viewing point, with desert oaks in the foreground

View of KataTjuta-The Olgas from dune viewing point, with desert oaks in the foreground

Uluru in the distance, from dune viewing point

Uluru in the distance, from dune viewing point

987a5640-7d2f-11e9-a990-bd63fb94a18f.jpgThe start of the track and Steve picking his way over the rocky track

The start of the track and Steve picking his way over the rocky track

99ef4300-7d2f-11e9-8aab-9d6110ea79e2.jpgGhost gums were beautiful against the red rock; Judith waiting to slide down?

Ghost gums were beautiful against the red rock; Judith waiting to slide down?

The end of the gorge

The end of the gorge

Steve - hot and covered in flies!

Steve - hot and covered in flies!

At the viewpoint for the Field of Light, we had very tasty and plentiful canapes and some good bubbles. As the light faded, the lights began to come on with Uluru as a backdrop. Once it was dark, we were allowed to wander down and among the lights - an odd but rather impressive sight.

The light area below us is the lights before coming on

The light area below us is the lights before coming on

Sunset behind us, through desert oaks

Sunset behind us, through desert oaks

A patchwork of colour appears as the solar-powered lights come on

A patchwork of colour appears as the solar-powered lights come on

A psychedelic display (tripods not allowed)!

A psychedelic display (tripods not allowed)!

A close view of some of the individual lights (no colour due to use of flash)

A close view of some of the individual lights (no colour due to use of flash)

The following day, we went to the rock again and walked a nice easy track, the Kuniya Walk, which took us in to the Mutijulu Waterhole. Unsurprisingly, the waterhole was dry at this time of year but the light was wonderful and the colours of the rock were magic. There were also many beautiful ghost gums at convenient places.

Huge chucks of rock fall off, by weathering, and form caverns used by rock wallabies

Huge chucks of rock fall off, by weathering, and form caverns used by rock wallabies

Spinifex grass makes its home in any cracks in the rock

Spinifex grass makes its home in any cracks in the rock

The rock flakes forming amazing shapes and colours - and a small tree gets in on the 'abstract art' act!

The rock flakes forming amazing shapes and colours - and a small tree gets in on the 'abstract art' act!

The ever-present ghost gums which are so photogenic

The ever-present ghost gums which are so photogenic

A small cave contained some Aboriginal art

A small cave contained some Aboriginal art

The waterhole was dry!

The waterhole was dry!

More amazing shapes caused by weathering - even a heart?

More amazing shapes caused by weathering - even a heart?

We decided then to walk along part of the Base Walk but due to our fitness levels (lack of!) and the fact that, by the time we started this part of the walk it was almost midday and rather warm, we turned back. We were happy with what we had done and enjoyed the sights and stories that accompanied our walk.

We were astonished to find that so much of the rock has broken off

We were astonished to find that so much of the rock has broken off

A different type of weathered cavern - JAWS?

A different type of weathered cavern - JAWS?

20190429_IMG_4288.jpgThe shapes, colours and vegetation kept us enthralled

The shapes, colours and vegetation kept us enthralled

Surely this 'pebble' must roll down hill?

Surely this 'pebble' must roll down hill?

Our last view of Uluru from the walk

Our last view of Uluru from the walk

After the walk, we drove around the other side of Uluru-Ayers Rock and saw the amazing weathering that has occurred on that side - not the side seen when watching sunsets on the rock.

The side of Uluru less often seen

The side of Uluru less often seen

d1c3bfc0-7d3b-11e9-bb43-c9f9d823b89a.jpgTwo views of climbers on the rock - despite many warnings and pleas from Aboriginals to not climb - there are some strange people

Two views of climbers on the rock - despite many warnings and pleas from Aboriginals to not climb - there are some strange people

Some more desert oaks, such graceful trees

Some more desert oaks, such graceful trees

It was then necessary for us to get back and prepare ourselves for the sunset flight and start packing to move on. The flight was excellent and gave a completely different view of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta, the latter in particular were far more extensive than we had thought seeing them from ground level. As has often been the case thus far, the sunset was far from awesome and I suspect we may have to wait until we are going down the WA coast before we get any good sunsets - we live in hope though!

Our aircraft awaits

Our aircraft awaits

The sun starts to set on the rock

The sun starts to set on the rock

The rest of the land appears to be a series of sand dunes

The rest of the land appears to be a series of sand dunes

Walpa Gorge in Kata Tjuta

Walpa Gorge in Kata Tjuta

Judith daring the rock to move before we have finished

Judith daring the rock to move before we have finished

A different area of KataTjuta

A different area of KataTjuta

The Valley of the Winds end of Kata Tjuta

The Valley of the Winds end of Kata Tjuta

A closer view of part of Kata Tjuta

A closer view of part of Kata Tjuta

From the air we could see the real size and shape of Uluru, amazing!

From the air we could see the real size and shape of Uluru, amazing!

Sunset over Kata Tjuta-The Olgas

Sunset over Kata Tjuta-The Olgas

At the beginning of this blog, I suggested that Uluru was a bit ho hum. Indeed, some people had suggested that it was the place to leave out if we needed to sacrifice anything in making our original plans for the Big Lap. Now that we have been here and seen what we could see in a couple of days, I must say it was worth it. However, like some other 'iconic' sights in Australia we have felt that once was enough while other places we have visited, perhaps a little more off the main tourist track, we would revisit at a shot, given the chance.

On our way back to the Stuart Highway we stopped to take photos of desert oaks which had rather captured our imagination as some trees do. Judith's father loved trees and we frequently see trees and say "Wouldn't Sam have enjoyed that tree or this group of trees or, as with the desert oaks their combination of apparent vulnerability and toughness".

A nice stand of desert oaks of varying age

A nice stand of desert oaks of varying age

At the junction of the Lasseter and Stuart Highways, we stopped to refuel at Erldunda - the most expensive fuel on the trip so far - not impressed! We continued to Alice Springs and checked in at the Big 4 McDonnell Ranges Holiday Park. This proved to be one of the best, if not the best, cabin accommodation that we have enjoyed in our travels, and good value too. More of this in our next blog.

Parked up and ready for a rest!

Parked up and ready for a rest!

This blog has had a longer than usual gestation. Our laptop died in Alice Springs but was resuscitated by a canny young man at Red Centre Technology who were extremely helpful. Also, internet connections have been either absent or extremely poor throughout the NT - except Darwin and Alice Springs. I hope we can now crack on.

Posted by SteveJD 03:04 Archived in Australia Tagged trees uluru coober_pedy yulara northern_territory kata-tjuta desert_oaks

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