I took the bus from Adelaide to Alice Springs, normally about 18 hours via Greyhound.
Unless you have an Emu hit your windscreen (windshield). this photo was takena few minutes after an unformtuate feathered friend tried to cross the road in front of the bus.
The Emu did not survive the impact. The windscreen was badly shattered. The bus driver pulled over and taped up the cracked window, and then boarded it up - we were in the middle of nowhere, so no chance of getting another bus or replacing the glass.
this accident occurred on the main road around 10:30am, we were supposed to arrive in alice at 4pm, but since the window was not fully stable, the driver had to reduce his speed for the rest of the trip, so we ended up arriving in Alice after 6pm - 2 hours late.
There is also a big danger of hitting kangaroos in the middle of the night on the road, depsite the most experienced drivers, sometimes accidents with the animals in the outback just can not be avoided.
Be prepared for anything while travelling in the outback!
Lots of fires in the outback are started by lightning. This one was surrounding the road entrance to Uluru and all the traffic was stopped for about 45 minutes, while we waited for the fire danger to reduce.
Due to the massive water shortage in these dry parts, they usually do not put alot of effort forward to put out the fires unless they pose extreme danger, normally these fires just take their natural course and life goes on.
Much of the vegetation in this area actually THRIVES on the fires and are born again when the rain comes.
During my several days in the outback, there was more than a few fires that were burning very close the road
There are few places on earth with flies like Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and its environs. They pursue anything that walks in a desperate quest for moisture. You`ll find yourself swatting constantly as you move about. It makes eating outside a near impossibility, and even talking is a risk as your open mouth becomes an inviting target.
You can get used to it after a few days, one thing you can do is purchase a fly net to place under your hat. These don`t cost much more than a few dollars and are available in most souvenir shops and kiosks.
It is worth mentioning that there are much fewer flies between May and August.
In this case, I didn`t have a flynet. I just wrapped my cloak around my face in frustration :-)
Don`t approach dingoes if you encounter them. They tend to be shy of humans anyway and will generally slink away if you approach.
They will often appear where food is being cooked outdoors or where people regularly leave scraps behind. Remember to throw away your leftovers and don`t try to feed them - they look fairly docile but are capable of some serious damage if cornered or provoked.
There have been a few injuries over the years, often bites to the hand, to people trying to feed these animals.
Be extra careful of spinifex when going off any desginated walking trail.
Spinifex is hardy arid-region grass and has several varieties. It grows very slowly and hard spinifex is sharp and very strong.
Usually the worst you`ll get is a scratch or a minor cut, but it can be more serious. I fell heavily in patch of spinifex, causing splintering in my left tibia.
Spinifex covers about twenty percent of the Australian continent. The patches of spinifex in the foreground of this picture are between five and ten years old.
Despite Anangu Aboriginal wishes for visitors not to climb Uluru, many do. Climbing Ayer's Rock is quite dangerous if the climber is not experienced and not in the best physical shape and capability. Many People have died while attempting to climb and many others have been seriously injured.
The climb to the top is in two parts.. The first part is the climb or walk to the part where the chain begins and the next is the chained portion to the top. We stood there and watched many people attempt to climb the rock to the start of the chain and couldn't.. The climb is a bit steep and they were discouraged and turned around and walked back down.
Hence if you find yourself in the situation where you've decided to climb the rock against its traditional owners wishes and you have overcome the "respect" issue, you should assess your physical capability to climb the rock right from the start before you reach the chained portion of the climb.. If it feels not right, turn around and walk back down!!
There is always the option of walking around the Ayer's Rock which many people decide to do, including myself!!!
ULURU AND KATA TJUTA NATIONAL PARK.
..Take extra care when walking and hiking in this park...make sure that you have good comfortable shoes or hiking boots...make sure that you are always with someone..and always be careful climbing on these loose rocks as a fall or a twisted or broken ankle out here is a disaster..this is a REMOTE area...and most likely your cell phone won't work here...and remember... the flying doctor is your hospital here...always carry plenty of water as this can get extremely hot here..ALWAYS TAKE EXTREME CARE HERE..
Well, let me give you the full story from both sides, so you can make your decision.
1 - It is not illegal or immoral to climb to the top of Uluru. Even the Aboriginal people do not forbid it, they just ask politely for you not to.
2 - The reason the Aboriginal people ask you not to climb is not because it is a sacred site per se, it is just that they would feel sadness for you, your family and for themselves for allowing you to climb the rock in case you fell off and joined the 30+ people who have died on the rock's property. (Many more have died as a result of their rock experiences, via heartattack, stroke, or other physical exertion).
3 - There is really nothing to see at the top. After all, the things you want to see and experience are much better on the ground around the base of the rock. On top, there is nothing but a view of the Outback. On the ground you can see paintings, watering holes, rock formations, and sometimes waterfalls!
After all this, make an educated decision, its your choice.
Sarah and I chose to respect the wishes of the traditional land owners of this property, so we did not climb!
Nganana Tatintja Wiya - 'We Never Climb'
If you are a serious photographer, or just want to enjoy a good position where people are not constantly walking in front of you for the sunrise or sunset, then I would highly recommend getting to the Uluru viewing stations early!!
As you can see in the picture, there are plenty of people that are there 30 minutes before the daylight even totally breaks!
As a general rule, the tour groups head out 90 minutes before sunlight, so if you get on the road about 60 minutes ahead of time, you should be able to park properly before the bus' get everyone ready and loaded and make it over there.
There are certain parts of the Uluru where you will find signs such as the picture warning and reminding visitors not to take photographs of the rock.. Parts of the rock are sacred areas, either men's or women's and hence the aboriginal people ask people not to take photographs.. My picture is of the sign only and not the part of the rock the sign was refering to..
Although parts of Uluru are sacred to the aboriginal people, all of Kata Tjuta is men's sacred area.. Hence to this date, some aboriginal women while driving by kata tjuta or the Olgas, turn their head and do not look at the men's sacred rocks!! Very interesting how the tradition is kept to this date in some families... *
One thing that you will notice about the tours at Uluru is that they are fairly expensive. I felt that most of the tours were very good value as we learned alot, and really enjoyed the attitude and professionalism of the tour guides.
Having said that, make sure you look at the weather before you book your tours however.... we went on 5 tours with AAT Kings, of which 4 were excellent. The 5th was not so great, mainly because it was overcast and cloudy for our sunset tour. The tour guide was sincere when he said "well, we can't change that!". I agree with him, but still, we were paying almost 100 dollars each, and all we really got was one shade of Uluru and plenty of wine!
Ok... turning off the whining.... it was still a nice evening!
Although it is recommended you do not climb Uluru, many people can't help themselves to a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do it.
People have died over the years trying to climb the rock, so take any safety issues seriously, including the type of shoes to wear, not climbing in extreme heat, and taking your own physical health into account.
If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, breathing problems, or problems handling the heat, it is a good idea not to climb.
When you enter Uluru-Kata Tjuta, you'll be purchasing a park entry ticket. Much like a passport, you'll need to keep this ticket with you and close at hand. There are supposedly "snap inspections" by park rangers, although we didn't face any.
What you WILL need is your ticket anytime you go into or out of the park area...and you do this a lot as you travel (for example) between Uluru, your campsite, the Olgas, the Valley of the Winds, etc. You don't want to get caught outside without your ticket, as it may cost you another $25 Aussie dollars to get back in.
1) Stay on the marked track.
2) Always climb with another person.
3) Carry and drink 1litre of water for every hour you are out in hot weather.
4) Wear sturdy rubber soled shoes, a hat with a secure strap, a long sleeved shirt and maximum protection sunscreen.
5) Go out in the coolest part of the day.
6) Do not climb if you have high or low blood pressure, heart problems, breathing problems, a fear of heights or if you are not fit.
7) Do not try to retrieve things that have blown away from the climbing track.
8) Do not drink alcohol or eat a large meal before you walk or climb.
9) Obey all instructions, notices and warning signs.
Exploring and enjoying Uluru-Kata Tjuta is an experience of a lifetime. But, never lose site of your surroundings and its dangers. The following are from the official Uluru-Kata Tjuta Visitors Guide:
(1) Stay on marked trails.
(2) Always walk or climb with one other person
(3) Carry and drink one liter of water for every hour you walk or climb in hot weather
(4) Wear sturdy boots, a hat with a secure strap, a long sleeved shirt and max protection suncreen.
(5) In the hottest weather, restrict climbing and walking activity to cooler parts of the day
(6) DO NOT TRY TO RETRIEVE THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN DROPPED OR THAT HAVE BLOWN AWAY ON THE TRAIL, ESPECIALLY IF CLIMBING ULURU.
If you feel ill or have been injured, stay where you are and have someone contact a park ranger. Rangers can be contacted at any time by using emergency alarms available at
(1) Mala walk carpark, base of Uluru
(2) Kuniya Piti water tank at eastern end of Uluru
(3) Kata Tjuta dune viewing, along Kata Tjuta road
(4) Walpa gorge carpark at Kata Tjuta
(5) Valley of the winds carpark at Kata Tjuta
(6) Valley of the winds walk at the "T" junction, Kata Tjuta