Tuesday, June 26, 2007
ULURU, a bit of history
We have less than 2 weeks left, lots of unsealed roads and a total of just under 2000 km. Arriving in Perth we will do some house sitting and we will try to find a buyer for the Landcruiser and the Kimberley camper trailer, either together or separately. Then we will also decide what to do with our block of land, to build or not to build, that is the question......
No doubt, Uluru is one of the famous icons of Australia, together with the Harbour Bridge (coat hanger) and the Opera House in Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef. It is striking that in Kings Canyon and Uluru we now see so many overseas visitors (since we left Cairns). Imagine, in 1948 the first dirt track to Ayers Rock was constructed.
In 1985 the Uluru (Ayers Rock)-Kata Tjuta (Olgas) Land Trust was handed back to the local Aboriginals (Anangu) and they leased the land back to the Federal Government for 99 years.
In the beginning, there was a camping area just north of Uluru. As a National Park, all visitors are now located some 16 kilometers to the north of the rock in a newly constructed village, which has 5 hotels, a caravan park, backpackers facilities, shops, medical centre, etc.
This place (it is called Yulara) in the middle of the desert (443 km SW of Alice Springs and 265 km east of the WA border) now caters for a maximum of 5000 tourists, any day of the year!
When we watched the sun set over Uluru at one of the viewing areas last night, we were amongst more than 1000 others!
A new airport was constructed another 5 km to the north and every day busloads of tourists arrive. When entering the National Park $25 per person will get you a 3 day pass, including entry to the Cultural Centre on the south side of Uluru; this adds up to a total of A$8.2 million per year just for park entry fees and the Australian Federal Government adds another A$6.4 million funding. Almost all of this money is used to manage and upgrade the facilities.
Tanneke joined a dot painting course ($50), which was very interesting, sadly almost exclusively attended by overseas visitors. There are several guided walking tours or you can walk around the base of the rock (10 km). Already 35 rock climbing tourists have died over the years (heart attacks and falls) and the Aboriginals don't like anyone climbing their sacred site; their culture has a deep understanding of the earth and the creatures that live on it. The management now strictly controls the climbing conditions such as too early, too late, too wet, too cold, too hot, threatening rain or lightening, too windy, rescue activities or cultural events, in fact you could spend a whole week here and find the rock "closed" every day, much to the disappointment of some people who come from far at great expense to see and climb. I think there is somewhere a compromise here, realising that half the tourists would not bother going here if they could not climb the rock. However, the Olgas (40 km to the west and higher than Uluru) are out of bounds for climbers.
The Anangu have incredible inside knowledge of nature, plants and animals. Even these days, Aboriginal trackers will be employed when people get lost in the desert, their eyesight is truly amazing. We experienced this first hand when we visited Tim and Leah in Kalumburu in 2005 when an elderly lady in our boat spotted a sailing ship at the horizon before any of us could see anything at all.
We saw a video in the Cultural Centre which showed how they can survive in the desert using only plants and animals as food, they know where to find water, even if there has been no rain for a long period of time.
It is fascinating to spend a few days camping in the outback, still with creature comforts so close at hand. At night we hear the dingos howling, there is a local pack of about 40 near the rock and they behave similar to wolves. At night the sky is absolutely blazing with stars. In summer temperatures often exceed 40 degrees and the flies become unbearable but we find the nights very cold (near freezing) during winter time, such as now.
ARSES.....and Horses heads.
Soon we will have our last edition of our blogspot. Leaving Kalgoorlie tomorrow and hope to be back in Perth Wednesday night. Can move straight into a house-sitting job in Swanbourne with many thanks to one of our dear friends.
We will have until October to sort out housing/building/renting. After that we will take up Klaas' offer for a two-men tent, hopefully the weather will be warmer by then.