Mouse, heads, storm
15.11.2012 - 15.11.2012 42 °C
It wasn't our intention to be up early, but Dot decided she'd had enough sleep, so that was it for all of us. Sunrise here is at 5.50, so at 5.30 it was pretty light walking over to the shower block. By far the best time of the day to do anything, only mid 20s and with a 40 degree tops forecast again for today, it makes sense to get out early, some things are closed after 11am due to the heat.
We head off at 7.30 for Kata Tjuta, which now seems to have completely replaced the use of the name The Olgas to describe them. It means 'many heads' and its clear to see why these huge group of dome shaped rocks were named as such. Kata Tjuta is just short of 50 kms from Uluru. It's already getting hot as we approach them. It's also very windy
The Aussies are very good at reminding people about the dangers of the sun and heat. Wear hats, shirts, sun cream and take water and we are being advised to have a litre of water each hour. The kids are covered in factor 50, as always.
The 'Valley of the Winds' is a 7.4kms hike into Kata Tjuta but we know this is beyond us in this heat. The Karu lookout is at 2.2kms round trip and Karingana at 5.4kms round trip. It's 34 degrees by the time we set off. It's a dry heat and inhaling dries and burns your nose. We reach the Karu lookout in better shape than we thought after about 30 minutes, but both feel Karingana is too much, particularly with the reports we get from follow hikers of the heat, wind and no shade at all. It also gets steeper. The reward of Karu lookout didn't justify the effort, in our opinion.
Feeling like we had a bit more to give and keen to get amongst the domes of Kata Tjuta, we drive round to the Walpa Gorge trail which is a 2.3 km round trip. We snack, saddle up and head off. Finn on Nat's front, with the rucksack on her back, and me with Dottie on my back and the camera. It's 38 degrees now and the wind is filling the air with a sandy haze. Visibility is poor, but a much more enjoyable hike. It may not have been....Dottie's finger mouse got dropped but we tracked back and found it......close one!!
We are in the Northern Territory, but only about 200kms from Western Australia and 100kms from South Australia, however, there is no tarmac roads directly to either. We head down the sand road towards W.A. just to check it out, we'd need a licence to drive it, and a 4WD.
En route back to the camp, Uluru can't be seen until we are right up close, hidden behind a thick sand and dust cloud. The wind is like a hair dryer and we take refuge in the aircon for lunch and in the pool all afternoon. It's too hot to do much else, reaching 42 we are told.
We turn out for sunset at Uluru at 7.10 only to watch it slowly get engulfed by a sand storm, and no sign of the sun.
We plan to see if it is clear tomorrow and get up early for the sunrise, walk around the base of the rock and get back to the pool before it gets too hot. I think this is a pattern here, if it can't be done by 11am.....don't do it.