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The heart of Australia

Added: March 24, 2010

Tags: Australia RTW photos
I am going to take you on short travel in time, because I am going to skip whole 3 weeks in New Zealand and return there after adding 2 posts from Yulara. I just want to have whole Australia together.

So, we visited Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park at 27th - 29th January. It was middle of summer and we got what we asked for: 40-42°C. We arrived to Yulara shortly after noon and the 2nd thing we noticed after realizing it is really hot were midgets. Or I should say they noticed us.

Yulara is a resort serving National Park and its visitors. All hotels there are owned by one company, but they provide accommodation for all budgets. An advantage is that there is free shuttle from/to airport as well as regular bus service around the resort. We learned this in shuttle from airport. Its driver provided us complete information, where are shops, what to do when you arrive at the entrance to National Park (while sitting in bus of tour operator) - wave your ticket to guards.

We had been accommodated at Outback Pioneer Lodge (the cheapest option with a solid roof). It was rather nice. Several of small buildings with rooms, nice smelling eucalyptus trees providing shade, red sand everywhere, nice pool, barbecue area.

We went to local "travel agency" where we paid for our 2 days ticket pre-booked at Uluru Express. They provide very good service. They are able to take you to Uluru or Kata Tjuta for sunrise or sunset, then you can decide on your program for next morning. For example they will drop you off near Uluru, after walking around they will pick you up at defined place at given time. So you are not tied to other 30 people and predefined program. Do what you want and are able to do. In the beginning we were not sure we will want more than 2 hikes. It was too hot. But at the end we managed:

  • the 1st evening - evening walk at Walpa Gorge (Kata Tjuta), sunset at Uluru.
  • morning of the 2nd day - sunrise at Kata Tjuta and 3 hours walk Valley of the Winds (Kata Tjuta)
  • evening of the 2nd day - visit of Uluru Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre and sunset at Uluru
  • the 3rd morning - sunrise at Uluru. This was bit of surprise, because we thought 2 days ticket is valid only 2 days, but actually it seems to work for 2 mornings and 2 evenings. Simply during every trip the Uluru Express driver asked us what we want to do next and explained all possibilities. That's how I imagine good service!

We did not climb Uluru, because Anangu people ask visitors not to climb. And it would be hot, we did not have time and other reasons.


I wanted to start with Kata Tjuta, because we have seen it first and we liked it more, but then I decided people know Uluru more...

This is my 1st photo of Uluru. It is done at noon from distance. Taken directly from resort, about 100m from our room. It was not easy to get there in such inhuman weather ;-). As you can see there were some buildings I could not avoid (it is not allowed to walk out of marked corridors). I guess more expensive hotels in resort provide better views :-)


Sunsets at Uluru

We were not lucky with sunsets at Uluru. Both evenings was cloudy, sun was behind clouds, so while Uluru was not bad, it was not what I hoped for. The 2nd evening was raining. It was raining also at that afternoon - very nice warm rain I could get used to... Wait a minute, maybe I got used to it, because I am missing it here in UK :-( People at resort were shocked - "It is raining in desert!", but it was refreshing.

the 1st evening

the 2nd evening

The driver told us it is raining at Kata Tjuta, but I would say it was closer. I took this photo from bus, asking lady sitting near window next to Zuzka to bend down. She did, but I took only quick snapshot from other side of bus without even thinking about composition or camera settings. Under these conditions I would say it is good.

Sunrise at Uluru

The last day before we left we got up early to catch bus at 4:30. It was still dark when we arrived to sunrise viewing area Talinguru Nyakunytjaku. The first photo I took was 20s exposure and quite dark. Without tripod. I used some pole. We found good place, where trees were not covering much of rock and waited.

Unfortunately, I can confirm that Scott Kelby was right:

Now, I must warn you, you will sometimes find landscape photographers out there at dawn some mornings shooting the same thing you are, and they're hand-holding their cameras. They don't know it yet, but once they open their photos in Photoshop, they are going to have the blurriest, best-lit, out-of-focus shots you've ever seen. Now, what can you do to help these poor hapless souls? Quietly, take your tripod and beat them to death. Hey, it's what Joe McNally would do. (Kidding. Kind of.)
For my relief, nobody around me took this advice seriously. I repeatedly shoot panoramas, every frame taken twice and still most of them are blurry. Only last one is usable. We had only 5 minutes to get back to bus after sunrise happened. This is only problem I found related to Uluru Express (still highly recommended by me! It is not their fault I am lame photographer :-)). If we spent 5 minutes more there I would have better photos.


Following 2 photos were taken during sunrise, but at Kata Tjuta day before.


Magic of Uluru

Even we have not been lucky with sunsets I managed to take a few photos during day 2 with nice light.

The first two are near climbing area (trail is visible). Panorama is from Lira track, about 10 minutes walking from Cultural Centre. We liked exhibition at Cultural Centre. It gives very nice insight into life of Aborigines, their customs, laws, way of life, food.




This flower provides nice sweet nectar. Aborigines look for it, but suck it up without destroying flower. So nectar can be recycled...