18-21 June | Erldunda, NT – Yulara, NT (Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park)

18 June – drive Coober Pedy, SA to Erldunda, NT – 4hr 50 min, 487 km

Today we crossed over the state line and entered the Northern Territory. The paperwork to enter NT had been completed several days beforehand. Interesting to note that NT authorities required a lot more information than South Australian authorities. 

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We stayed overnight at the Erldunda Roadhouse – The Centre of the Centre – on the corner of the Stuart and Lasseter Highways. This is typical roadhouse style accommodation, no frills – basic and utilitarian. 

Looking forward to heading down the Lasseter Highway and moving on to Yulara tomorrow.

19 June 2021 – drive Erldunda, NT to Yulara, NT – 2.5 hrs, 246 km

Before leaving Erldunda we checked out the resident Emus. We find these prehistoric looking birds fascinating — they seemed quite interested in us too.

A little emu trivia – their feathers are unusual, if not unique, in that they have a primary and secondary feather coming out of the same shaft.

19-21 June 2021 – Yulara, NT

We were very excited to be staying in Yulara (Voyages Ayers Rock Resort), and ultimately visiting nearby Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

Yulara is comprised of various levels of accommodation from camping to apartments to the Sails in the Desert 5 star hotel.

It had been a challenge to secure any accommodation at Yulara. We were grateful when we finally locked in a two night booking at The Lost Camel Hotel. We had a nice room with the most comfortable bed – it was like sleeping on a cloud. Bliss.

Yulara Village is centred around a town square, where there is an IGA, post office, Gallery of Central Australia (GoCA), various shops, cafes, and accommodation. There are a variety of free activities available each day, which are either based in the square or start from the square, eg bush tucker tour, painting class.

We really enjoyed a visit to the Gallery of Central Australia. The staff are friendly and happy to spend time chatting about artworks and artists.  GoCA has a regular artist in residence programme. The current artist in residence is Justin Ronburg Jappurrula 15/06-30/06/2021.  Justin is both a painter and a musician. We were rapt to spend time chatting to Justin about his art and the digeridoos he makes, during which he treated us to an impromptu dig session when he played 4 digeridoos, and on one occasion also clap sticks. Yes! How cool was that!

We had two sunsets and two sunrises whilst at Yulara, ie four opportunities to take some sunset/sunrise photos at Uluru and Kata Tjuta. However, the weather/clouds had other ideas… ce la vie. Having met so many lovely people whilst at Yulara, both village staff members and other travellers, and just being able to be near these two iconic sites, made the lack of photogenic sunrises/sets pale into insignificance.

Kata Tjuta

We self drive as much as possible. However, it is only possible to visit the Field of Light with a tour group – we signed up with AAT for a sunrise tour – sunset tours are also available. Joining a sunrise tour gave us the opportunity to see the stems of the fibre optic field of lights pale to grass like forms whilst the rising sun revealed Uluru in the background.

Michael doesn’t usually do early mornings. We went to sleep early the night before, so when the alarm went off at 5am it wasn’t too harrowing.  It was a brisk 2 deg C – brrrr – when we left the cosy warmth of our hotel room and headed for the tour meeting point.  It was lovely see and walk in amongst this art installation created by UK artist, Bruce Monro, which is indefinitely on display.

Field of Light … as the sun rises the colours fade from the lights and the fibre optic stems begin to resemble the local grass
Field of Light art installation – just a little of the kilometres and kilometres of cables required to support this artwork

Michael had visited and climbed Uluru 40+ years ago.  We joined the ranger guided Mala walking tour which met up at the former starting point for the Uluru climb.   Being older and wiser, Michael couldn’t believe that he had made the climb when he saw how steep it is, and now being a more culturally aware individual appreciates the ban on climbing Uluru which was implemented in October 2019 to align with the wishes and cultural beliefs of the traditional owners, Anangu.

No walkers/climbers allowed on Uluru since October 2019. Unfortunately, this photo does not show how steep the path really is.

These days visitors are invited to walk, cycle or segway around the base of Uluru.

It was a short visit but a nice visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Feels surreal that I’ve now actually been to see these amazing Australian icons in person.

A few more photos follow…

Sturt’s Desert Pea Swainsona Formosa – my favourite Australian wildflower. These beauties were growing on the roadside in Yulara.
Walpa Gorge, Kata Tjuta – inspiring colours, textures, form
Kata Tjuta

M&Vx

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