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I had a chance to take a trip to Australia’s Red Centre, Alice Spring and Uluru. It’s my second trip out there, which meant I could focus more on taking photographs rather than just gawking at the sites. It also gave me an idea about angles and locations to shoot from, as well as what to expect, including the very long drives.
I flew into Alice Springs with my wife and three of our close friends to visit our mutual friend who is a police officer in the Northern Territories. Alice Springs is an interesting place, it is a place where the aboriginal and white cultures begin to mix in earnest.
One of the evenings we walked to the Anzac Memorial at the top of Trevor Reid Park to take in the sunset. After the sun had set I took a photograph of the lights coming on in the city and the dusky sky which to me describes the feeling of a desert town like Alice.
We had a good time in Alice, taking in the popular watering holes and meeting some of the locals. It was very funny to see how the taxis went back and forth between the downtown area and the Casino which are the two places where bars are open late.
After leaving Alice Springs we took the 460km drive to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park with a few stops along the way. Our first stop was at a camel farm about an hour and a half outside of Alice. The owner was quite a character, but he really enjoyed his job. Here he is relaxing next to one of his charges.
The farm is located along the Stuart Highway next to the Stuartswell Caravan Park, and is worth a stop for a $5 camel ride or camel burger, maybe both.
Leaving the camel farm we still had a fair way to go, and made several stops before finally getting to Uluru. We drove out to Kata Tjuta, which is fairly close to Uluru, but was formed quite differently. It is also a sacred place for the aboriginal people, but for some reason tourists are allowed a bit more freedom to walk around and explore it. It is a beautiful place, with plenty of walks to enjoy the scenery. Kata Tjuta is often overlooked and is certainly worth the drive.
Interestingly while we were there both Uluru and Kata Tjuta had not only green plants growing on them, but actually had water running down their sides. It was a very different sight from the first time we visited when everything was very dry and dusty.
In the morning we got up early to watch the sunrise over Uluru, which was very pleasant with a bit of fog rising off the top of Uluru. Even though it was the low season, there were quite a few people walking around and taking photos of Uluru. If you click and zoom in on the panorama below you can see various people in their bright coats throughout.
After sunrise some of us elected to walk around the base of Uluru which was a 2.5 to 3 hour walk at a good pace. It’s fairly flat, but long walk with a good portion of it in the direct sun. Definitely something to do early in the morning or in the evening when the sun isn’t as strong. It’s well worth the effort though as you can see the complexity of Uluru up close, with all of it’s crevasses and undulations.
Below is one of my favorite photographs which shows one of the deep indentations that Uluru creates on the south side. I really like the colour contrast of the blue sky and orange rock.
Also on the south side there is a dead or dying tree that has a great twisting shape which contrast with the smoothness of Uluru.
I think to truly appreciate Uluru and Kata Tjuta, a person must really spend some time there, and listen to the sounds, walk around to see the intricacies, and talk to some of the people. To me it has a mystical feel to it, which I think a lot of people on tour groups miss because they are in such a hurry to keep to a schedule. As with most trips I wished that I had a little bit more time to gain an even better understanding of the area, but I was certainly glad to have had the opportunity to visit twice.
On the flight home we were again treated to an unusual sight by flying over Lake Eyre filled with water. Lake Eyre is an inland lake which is usually empty. It is a low area in the middle of Australia, well somewhat south of the direct middle, where water collects when it rains in the Red Centre. When the lake fills with water, a large bird migration occurs with millions of birds including pelicans nesting around the lake. There is also a large growth of plants including flowers which normally remain dormant during dry years. Below is a photograph of Lake Eyre as we flew over.
While this was a brief trip into the Red Centre, we did see some unusual sights which made it very special. It was also very good to catch up with our friend and get a locals perspective of Alice Springs. If you are an Australian or staying in Australia Uluru is definitely worth visiting.