The east side of the second rock art site is separate from, but adjacent to, the west side. The east side entrance is via a platform off the main trail at the entrance to Kantju Gorge. The east side cave is formed by a large rock overhang that turns into a low ceiling cave. The cave looks like water sometimes runs through it. The east side has more rock drawings than the west side. It also looks like there are two kinds of drawings. The ones on the wall are more the ochre colors of yellow and rusty red with not much white. The drawings on the ceiling have much more white in them.
Double Mouth Cave is my name, coming from how this cave looks from the trail. Then again, it could be a half-buried skull! It is located past the Mala Puta area near where the Base Walk meets the trail to Kantju Gorge. It is adjacent to Kurpany's Cave.
The Kurpany is an evil, black dog-like creature that is part of the Mala Story: "Luunpa, the kingfisher bird, cries out a warning 'Purkara, purkara!' - an evil dog-like creature called Kurpany has been created by people in the west to destroy the Mala ceremony. The warning is ignored and Kurpany kills two Mala men, and everyone, men, women and children run away."
Mala Puta is a sacred Aboriginal women's site. The opening of the cave is described as triangular or bell-shaped like the pouch of the female Mala (rufous hare wallaby). It is prohibited to enter the cave and you are asked to not take photographs of the enclosed area. It is no longer considered acceptable for the Anangu to spear tourists who enter Mala Puta, but the fines are substantial (5000 AUD by the National Parks and Wildlife Regulations and 1000 AUD by the Aboriginal Land Rights Act).
The Uluru - Kata Tjuta Cultural Center is an interesting place to visit. I did take a couple of pictures before I got inside and saw the signs about no photography. It has businesses owned and operated by local Aboriginal people. The Walkatjara Art Center has items from the Mutitjulu Community. The Gallery Shop sells unique ceramic art, paintings and functional craft works from Anangu artists. The Ininti Cafe and Souvenir Shop has a wide selection of souvenir gifts, books, videos and clothing that feature Uluru and the cultural heritage of its traditional owners. Maruku Art brings together the work of hundreds of artists from their homelands and communities in the western desert. There is also Anangu Tours, a company offering small group tours hosted by local Aboriginal guides. You may want to purchase the booklet, "An Insight Into Uluru," which has information about self-guided walks (2 AUD). There are toilets, phones and free open-air picnic areas.
Please note that, although it is not forbidden except under bad conditions, the Aboriginal people ask that you not climb Uluru. As a traditional rite for ancestral Mala men on their arrival at Uluru, the climb is a sacred route for them. There are also safety and environmental reasons. Not only have 35 people died from falls and heart attacks, but there are mundane issues like where do you go to the bathroom when you are on the mountain? Because you must register to climb and pay to enter the Park, there are data on the proportion of visitors who climb Uluru. The percent has dropped. Today ~38% of Park visitors climb the mountain, down from ~74% in 1990. It is nice to see that most people respect the ancient traditions. The path is always closed overnight from 30 min after sunset to 30 min before sunrise. It may also be closed due to weather conditions, rescue operations, or by request from the Traditional Owners for cultural reasons. See also a videoclip the base of the climb.
We intentionally went to the Uluru sunset viewing area for cars in the morning to miss the crowds. There were only a couple of other cars there and the view was good in the morning also. The viewing area is a long, paved parking lot off the highway to the Cultural Center about 9 km from the toll booth. It's only ~2 km northwest of Uluru itself. With a decent zoom, you can get some good pictures. You can see the climbing path up the side of the mountain. There are also some nice plants along the parking lot.
After the others left for the Sounds of Silence dinner and show, I was trying to decide where to go to watch the sunset. Just northeast of the campground there was a small hill. I tried there first. It turned out that it was an old lookout area that was no longer used. I was the only one there. I could see Uluru but it was partially blocked by some low hills. I could see another hill to the southwest with people on it. It was within easy walking distance and I thought the view might be better from there. It turned out to be the Imalung Lookout (see the next tip); however, the view from Imalung was really about the same and there were lots of people there.
The Imalung Lookout is on a hill in the middle of the Yulara Drive loop. It is just a short walk southwest from the Ayers Rock Campground. Uluru itself is about 12 km south and a little east. Some low hills cut off the bottom part of the view of Uluru, but it is very convenient and the sunset view is still nice. There were quite a few people there. The restaurant on the trail coming up the hill was closed though.
As you are going to Yulara on the Lasseter Highway, you see some of the landmarks for the first time. The initial one is Mount Conner, which many people mistake for Uluru. Next is Uluru which you can barely see on the horizon, and finally the Olga Mountains. For us, the sequence was the intersection of Luritja Road and the Lasseter Highway at 15:09, Mount Conner at 15:25, Uluru at 16:09 and the Olgas at 16:13. We passed the airport access road at 16:20 and arrived at the Ayers Rock Campground in Yulara at 16:24.
When visiting Uluru (e.g. Ayers Rock) consider driving around the rock at sunset. Most visitors crowd up before the main view-platform west of the rock which certainly is a guarantee for beautiful pictures, but will only give you your version of the one anybody else has already made (and even better).
There is plenty of time to drive (by car) around the rock and doing so you can enjoy the awesome view from different perspectives. Timetables in your hotel will indicate at what time the sun will set. If you return to the main platform about 30 minutes before you will have plenty of time to make that all familiar one.
Although limited in time , ‘of course’ we visited the Cultural Centre in the National Park. I think every visitor of this special place should do so, because the centre is an important introduction to the Aborigional (Anangu and Tjukurpa) culture of this part of Australia.
The two remarkable buildings, a couple of km’s away from Uluru, are housing displays with photos, artefacts and videos, sound panels and much more to understand more of the significance of Uluru for the Aborigines.
You can have a drink or snack in a café, the office of Anangu Tours, you can buy souvenirs and there is an excellent art gallery with fantastic works of local Aborigines and an Art Centre. If you are interested in Aboriginal art or crafts, you really should buy something here (see 'shopping tip').
The Cultural Centre is opened daily from 7.00 am till 6.00 pm. Photography or video recording is not permitted at the Cultural Centre. Around the centre are picnic places with barbecue facilities.
Watarrka National Park is best known as the home of Kings Canyon, a mighty chasm cleaving the earth to a depth of 270 metres. Kings Canyon would have to be one of the most incredible of the many natural rock carved mountains of the outback in the middle of Australia.
The walk I did was the moderately challenging six-kilometre Kings Canyon walk. Taking in magnificent views of the Canyon rim, the weathered, buttressed domes of 'the Lost City' and the 'Garden of Eden' - a sheltered valley with permanent waterholes and lush vegetation. The walk is suitable for fit, relatively experienced walkers and can be completed in about three to four hours. For the less energetic, the shorter and easier Kings Creek walk leads into the centre of the Canyon. When I visited I thought the heat would just about kill me, yet I proudly made the walk to the top of one of the most beautiful stunning drops I have ever seen in stone.
Derived from an Aboriginal word referring to the umbrella bush that thrives here, Watarrka National Park has been home to the Luritja people for more than 20,000 years. The area was little known to Europeans until recently; Ernest Giles being the first white man to explore the area in 1872.
The Cultural Centre is a great introduction to Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park. It gives the visitor a sense of the traditional and current Anangu way of life, history, religion, languages, and art. The Anangu are the Aboriginal people who live near the park. There are also daily demonstrations on arts and crafts, plant walks, bush tucker, and culture.
It is a great idea to visit the Cultural Centre before you see the rest of the park. It will add to your trip and give you an understanding of what Uluru and Kata Tjuta mean to the Anangu people.
Entry to the Cultural Centre is included in the park admission. Hours are 7am - 6pm. Photography is not allowed.
Mt. Connor is a huge mesa that sticks out on the horizon in a vast desert sea of nothing. You can see it on the way to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. It is 100km east of the park near Curtin Springs. It sits on privately owned land but tours are available through some companies.