Saturday, April 21, 2007

Uluru, the Anangu and the Outback!

The minibus trundled accrosas the red dusts that constitute Australias semi arid desert oif an outback. Midnught Oil pumped out of the sound system as Uluru loomed over us, the worlds largest onland monolith, red as blood shining in the midday sun. I had arrived at last, arrived at the centre of the Anangu people, the spiritual home of ancient Australia.
The last time I wrote was from Townsville, nothing happened there. TRhen I got an early bus to Mt. Isa, which is the most boring town in the world, but the start oif the outback, so the views from the greyhound bus are miles of nothingess, juts red dust and bush. At Mt. Isa nout much happened it was basically a stop gap for me to rest along the journey. I had to endure two whole days of boredom there, the hostel was ok thouigh.I also met some cool people though who we all sat up late drinking and telling yarns with, but most people who lived there were farmers so you wopuldnt see them for hours on end, leaving the place earily deserted.
Once out of Mt. Isa I headed over nigthto Tennant creek. I wanted to see the Devils marbles but alas they are a mission to get too from Tennant creek and in that small town full of Aborigionees shouting 'mala' (give me) at me, the accommodation is expensive so you are besically held to ransom. So instead of a stop off there I did a marathon trip over land to Alice springs, the town built around a radio relay post.
This is a real outbacktown, but still is surprisingly touristy. But here I would do my adventure to the Red Centre and Uluru (Ayers rock). Officially the rock has been called Uluru since 1985 when the lands were handed back to the traditional owners the Anangu people of that area.
To get to Uluru by Alice is the only feasible option. You have to go on some sort of adventure tour. Tour, yuck thats a dirty word I hear you cry. I know itsa a horribl;e thing and against my principles as a traveller, but this w\one is acceptable as I am not in the position to go to Yulara and stay in the Maerican owned and opressively over priced hotels, or buy a car and drive there. So for just over a hundred quid I went on the rock tour. Which would turn out to be one of the best decisions I had ever made. Buyt before the tour departed I thought I need some sleep. So as I was goign back to the hostel what should happen, another monumental piss up erupted and I was involved, finally I got to bed at 3 and was up at 5. Luckily as we trundled through the red centre stopping at random homsteads in the middle of nowhere that kept emu's as pets, I could sleep a little.
Finally after what seemed an age of travelling with ska blasting out of the speakers we arrived at Kings Canyon. This is where I first talked to the group, because we had all been snoozing and noone had peeped up a word so far. Our group was quite a cool one, a mix of English, New Zealand, Germans, Swiss and Italians. OhI almost forgot a Belgian and some Danish lass who was on bloody hyperactive mode all the time.
Kings Canyon, oh what a site, caused my massive earth spilts and cracks thousands if not millions of years ago. It was like being on mars, but mars with a few plants and little lizards and Thorny devilas running around your feet. It was a truly magnificent site, someof the cliff faces being limestone were too dangerous to loom over the edge of, but there were a few of solid rock that I crawled up too and looked down into the abyss. There is even in the middle of it a permanetn water hole wher all sorts of wild life live. This is called the garden of Eden!!! But sods law when we got there the path had collapsed!
Now the thing I hate about tours is that you have a guide, but this guide we had (Daniel) was a true blue larrikin outback bush boy, he even revealed ti us that only last week did he get an email address and the last tour group made him cut his mullet off! This guy was the exception to the tour guides. He was a cool fella who had a rule where one of us at random when he picked them would have to brown eye another tour bus, especially if the bus was full of Japanese people with orange backpacks!!!! Oh a browneye is Australian for moon!
This tour guide grew up in the bush, so like Dear old Steve Irwin would slam the brakes on and dive intot bush and come out with the worlds seconds most poisonous snake, rock on! He also loved me as I was the beer king, last to bed and I introduced him to a game that he said was the best one he had ever seen!!!
This game I introduced as we walked around the national park was, if you see a man with a beard you all start clapping. If you see a moustache you all salute. If someone is in a fly net (silly looking net that cobers the face) you shout 'sexy' at them. If they have a chopper Read moustache you shout 'you beaytu' and lastly if they have mutton chops you shout 'haaazaar'!!!! Endless fun, although we didnt see another single sould in Kings canyoj as we jumped over mini ravines and up rocks that looked like the winds of time had been tickling them leaving them in an amaizingly corroded shape.
That day was mostly spent exploring about Kings canyon, but after we had had our fill of this wonder we then drove way out bush to stay on the grounds of a cattle farm that was bigger than Belgium!!!!!
Here we would camp in swags, which are like an all in one ground mat and sleeping bag thing. Under the stars of the most amaizing sky I had ever seen, the sky was beautiful and all the stars winked there eyes at us.
We made a massive fire, and when I say massive I mean we were burning entire trees at one pint. Then the boozing began.
The next morning we were all up raely and drove past Atila, this is a table shaped flat topped mountain near Ulur. But it is also the lost marvel of the Northern Territioy, not known like its famous sister a few hundred kilometsre away. This is now fly country and as soon as you step into the dry blistering heat you are swarmed by bloody flies all over your face, they get up your nose in your ears and worst of all in your mouth!
Soon we could see what was formally known as Ayers rock, Uluru loomed over us. What a magestic sight. But we were not heading there. Oh no, our destination was what was formally known as the Olgas. Kata Tjunta.
Kata Tjunta was once a massive piece of rock, but time, wind, rain and all sorts of erosion have made them 36 domes of differing sizes, from small to bloody massive. You can walk through the valleys of the sacred site and the echoes are impressive verging on magnificent. Clambering up large slopes and looking through the valley onto the oputback, the harsh desretland the heart of the country!
We spent 4 odd hours there walking around and covering every inch that we are allowed to walk on, for most of it is sacred and never has an aboriginee climebed or attemped to climb Kata Tjunta.
The after dropping off all the wood we colected and didnt burn last night at the campsite in Yulara (what a horrid horrid town) we drove to the place that I have dreamed of going to, Uluru!
Uluru is actually a name of the water hole on the summit, yes there is water a some sort of poind life up there. The Aboriginees actually only call it 'The rock'. So off to the rock we went.
Now I decided long ago that as a mark of respect to the Anangu people I would not climb to the summit of Uluru. Even though I so wanted too and my hedonistic side was pleading me to do so. But I stood firm and was respectful of the wihes of the Anagu people who ask you not too, the entire thinbg is a contradiction really. The guide book says please dont, all literture in the national park pleads that you dont climb, recounting the stories of those who had died before doing so but then there is a chain going up 300 meters that helps you, contradictory or what!!!!!! Take the chain away and hey presto, but then will more people die. 35 have doen so far!
Instead I did the base walk, 9 plus k's around the base visiting all the sacred siretes and waterholes. I also did the Mala walk where a lot of paintings and features were explained, like the real colour of the rock is grey and the atmosphere makes it red!!
The rock itself is so awe inspring that when you look at it you are moved by its pressence. There are many sacred areas too that photography is forbidden and you cannot enter them. But even though the climb is frowned upon there are areas that you are openly asked to climb up, not the actual climb, but small reas that you can clamber all around on. The reason the climb is frowned upon is that you are walking in the footsteps of the only two aborigniees to climb uluru many thousands of years ago, to pay a homage to the spirits.
We then kicked a footbsll around watching the sunset. It was very impressive and the rock gradualy changes colour before being engulfed in the darkness of the land. Much more impressive than sunrise where there were too many Japanese with orange backpacks.
That night we all camped at the horrible ill plcade and ugly town of Yulara. The Aussie govermnent couldnt make any money out of the town so sold the entire thing to some septic company who make bloody millions!!! We camped and it was nice to have a shower, the water runs red off you because of all the dust.
Once again we had a massive fire and a few Tooheys new beers. But again it was up early and my goodness did it get cold that night!
Our final day at Uluru before the marathon drive back stopping only at fly infested roadhouses, we got there early and made out way to see the sunrise, we were the first people there and then suddenly out of nowhere hundreds of people all came in massive coaches from Yulara. The sunrise was good but not as impressive as the setting the previous night. Many ahouts of 'sexy' and rounds of applause happened spontaeously that nmornign as there were many bearded wonders and the like!!
Our last morning was spent doing the base route. We walked all around the rock and I have decioded that a 5 lap race would be so cool,the Uluru marathon! There are many caves and paintings and waterholes and no until you get back to where the climb is do you see any other walkers, no one does the entire route so we were alone with the rock in the desert.
The time finally came to say goodbye to Uluru. I had fallen in love with the place.
Finally after a long haul drive we were back in Alice springs. Oh what a piss up followed. I had a bus at 10am the next day and when I boarded the bus I was still drunk. The shot we were doing!! We even managed to get some photos of the locals, men with mullets and massive tashes!! One looked like Macho man Rnady Savage from wrestling when I was a kid!!
It was a great night and a great way for the group to part!!
Then came the walk home to my hostel. I was chased by Aboriginees wielding sticks. I had done nothing juts was walking home, luckily I can still run at quite a good pace when slaughtered, so avoided being beaten to a pulp. That made me for a fleeting second wish I had climbed Uluru. But the Aborignals in Alice are not Anangu, so the thought evaporated immediately and I rid my mind of it, in the knowing that I had done the right thing.
Alice is home to all the mispaced Aboriginals, such as those who are been forced from their lands for crimes etc. So you end up with a melting pot of ruffians and drunks, nive mix!!
I write this after 20 hours on a bus which stank of peoples B.O. I left Aliceand went to Coober Pedty, the opal mining town where if you walk off any path the earth will swallow yiou in an old disused mine shaft. The town was once again a very rough place, but I have never seen such dust storms, the streets were engulfed in a mass of dust and some of the locals were stuck in a time warp. Mullets everywhere!!!
Now I am in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia having left the dust of the Northern Terriitory behind.
Lets see what adventures I can go on now.
Cheerio my long lost buddies.
x x x


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