14 August, 2012

A quiet, yet awe inspiring day at The Rock

(Saturday 21st July)

Today we laid eyes on Uluru (Ayers Rock) close up. We slept in a bit and then toddled off to Uluru. It takes a little more to get going, because we have to pack up “home” totally (except a few things like our portable washing line). Unplugging the motor home, securing everything inside etc.

The Rock
When we finally drove up to the rock, it was an awesome sight. Of course we’ve seen the image of the rock many, many times. In fact we own a framed print that graces our walls when we’re in Australia. But to see it up close is amazing. It looms. The colours are more intense. You look up a couple of hundred metres to where the edge of the rock disappears from view and the intense blue of the outback sky contrasts strongly. Then there are quite a lot of spots where bigger-than-usual-in-the-desert eucalyptus trees are growing, no doubt enjoying the water that obviously flows off the rock when it rains. I say obviously because at various points around the rock there are dark vertical stains where the water flows down. So the rusty orange meets the intense blue sky and is complemented by the familiar green of the eucalyptus trees.
A place where you can see that water collects and
then flows down the side of The Rock.

We didn’t rush through, we dawdled and enjoyed wandering along the base. The boys also enjoyed it, poking about here and there. We didn’t do the 9km base walk, we figured that would be too much for at least our youngest, if not other members of the party who were tired.

And that includes David and I. Not only were we tired from our marathon of driving over the last week, but we had a very disturbed night in our motor home last night. One boy got really upset at about 11.30 about sleeping next to his brother (They’re on the double bed above the driver’s seat). He started kicking about and making the motor home roll from side to side; then moaning and kicking the walls. Needless to say we were pretty upset about this, we’d both been asleep for about an hour by this time. There is very little room to deal with something like this in a motor home, no other rooms to put him in and two other boys sleeping. We considered sending him outside but as it was getting down to zero, we thought that was a bit too cruel. I don’t know how long we spent trying to sort him out.
I gave him many opportunities to mend his ways, but he didn’t take them, so I ended up putting him on the floor of the aisle that runs from the back to the front of the van. It made it tricky to get up and go to the toilet. It was a threat that I figured he’d consider significant: “Sleeping on a cold, hard floor with only a sleeping bag,” but he didn’t see it that way and asked this morning if he could sleep there again tonight. Uh, nope. It is a very inconvenience place when they go to bed before us.

He actually continued to have problems when on the floor which makes me think that blaming his brother is only an excuse. What his real problem is, I don’t know. I thought that a day not driving in the motor home would help him, but as I type we have him outside in the cold on 10 minutes time-out. He is still resisting sleeping in his designated spot as I type.

Yes, we were there!
Sorry, I’ve raved on a bit about this. It isn’t a bright spot in our journey, actually very emotionally exhausting. David and I were talking the other day about how parenting is not controlling so much as managing. Well, managing this boy with his high levels of persistence can be very difficult and immensely draining.

Back to Uluru. After walking along the base we drove to the Cultural Centre a little bit away and found a BBQ/picnic spot amongst the Spinifex. While the adults manufactured a basic barbie the boys found some fantastic sticks and ran amongst the Spinifex until we called them. They had a much more enjoyable day than they’ve had recently.

Sunset. Only ruined by an internal thingy in our camera
that puts that annoying hook-shaped shadow on skies.
After lunch we took a look at the cultural centre. The national park is run by the local Aboriginal tribe in conjunction with the government. Therefore it is very culturally sensitive. The whole site is sacred to the local aboriginals. So there are plenty of signs telling you what you can and can’t do. Especially photography. They also prefer you not to climb the rock. We didn’t have a option because the climb was closed due to high winds. At the cultural centre we saw lots of aboriginal art and even two artists in the midst of creating their work.

We soon tired, though and came home for some down-time. Mum and Dad stayed to see the sunset at 6.15, but we were back at the campsite by 3 or so.  I had a lie down, but that was the furthest from the boys’ minds. They alternatively played with the football and created some intricate imaginary world/game called Stick Wars. At one point they decided to try swimming, but lasted only 5 minutes. The water was cold.

I guess that is one thing that might surprise people. You imagine the centre of Australia, desert, to be hot. But it probably only made it to about 16 degrees Celsius today and at the start of the day I was well layered up, it was still below 10 at 9am. The showers are good here, but the building is still very open, so I made sure I had a shower before sunset today, it helped quite a lot.

So, we bunk down for the second night in the same place, which hasn’t happened since last weekend. It’s been very nice to have a slower paced day. Now I’m hoping and praying for a solid night’s sleep!


Deb said...

Such long days of driving! My husband would love to do the inland Australia trip but I keep thinking about days and days in the car with the kids. Would you do it all over again?

Wendy said...

Yes, I'd do it again. The thing I would change would be to do it over a longer period of time. It would have been better to have shorter days, so that the boys could have longer to run around and we wouldn't be pushing them to do things in such a rush. We would also have liked to stay two nights in some places instead of only one. My husband is already thinking about where we might go next time...maybe down to South Australia, the only state or territory we've not explored a little bit.

Helen said...

I didn't climb the rock either, out of choice (I didn't think it would sound great to be sharing the gospel with an Aboriginal person and admit I did something offensive - when in Rome...). I did the entire base walk, but this was waaay pre kids. It was really good. We'd love to do a long inland car trip too, via Winton to Darwin, one of the few places neither of us has been.

Footprints Australia said...

We saw Uluru when it was raining! It was really impressive, with waterfalls pouring off it. Mind you at the time we were most disgruntled ... didn't realise til later what a precious treat we'd been given.

The next day was fine and sunny so husband and Mr 7 at the time did the climb. Apparently it was VERY dangerous & afterwards Lawrence said there was no way he would have taken our son if he'd realised. They both literally wore out the seat of their pants on the way back down - he figured that was the safest way to do it!

He did say the view at the top is amazing, and to see trees growing up there and rock pools was pretty cool (but I'm with you, I'd prefer not to and respect the indigenous culture) ...

Miss 4 and I went to the Aboriginal Cultural Centre instead and found it fascinating, Miss 4 especially loved the bush tucker talk and for months afterwards was looking for honey ants!!!!

Wendy said...

Janet, it must be awesome to see when it is raining! Helen, I think another inland car trip might be on the cards for us too. David's eyeing off western NSW and SA.