Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ayers Rock

Uluru (Ayers Rock)

I visited Uluru (also called Ayers Rock) with my parents last week. Uluru is a huge sandstone formation in the middle of Australia. It is one of Australia's popular and most recognisable tourist destinations. Uluru is a UNESCO world heritage site and it is of immense cultural significance to the Aboriginal people. Below are some pictures I took during the trip.

Uluru at sunset.

This picture was taken ~10 minutes before sunset. Uluru is famous for changing colour at different times of the day due to changing lighting conditions. It offers a spectular sight at sunset and sunrise. I saw the rock change colour from rusty brown ->bright orange -> bright red -> pink (just before sundown).

~5 minutes before sunset. Uluru in a beautiful pink-orang-reddish glow.

~2 minutes to sunset. Pink.

My parents.

Uluru at sunrise.

It was unfortunately a cloudy morning so we couldn't see the sunrise. There aren't many cloudy days at Uluru. Thankfully the clouds were only sparsely scattered, so we could see the skies lit up in the early morning light.

...and it was a COLD morning. REALLY cold. The guide told us it was 4 deg C when we reached sunrise viewing area - a secluded sand dune. I did dress accordingly, but did not bring any gloves. I couldn't feel my fingers.

Sunrise viewing area. Desert awakening.

The desert road.
The Aussie outback is known for its Red soil. No wonder Northern Territory is called the The Red Centre.

Ayers Rock
Strong winds. Shucks! I badly wanted to climb the rock. Next time!

Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

The other attraction near Uluru is Kata Tjuta (known as The Olgas). Kata Tjuta is a collection of dome-like rock formations. Kata Tjuta means "many heads". It is 50kms to the west of Uluru. Kata Tjuta is also very sacred to the local aboriginal people. Some rock formations were out of bounds because they aren't supposed to be viewed or photographed by the public.

Walpa Gorge walk

Kata Tjuta

Sound of Silence - Stargazing

We did a tour called Sound of Silence. The tour started out with viewing the Uluru and Kata Tjuta at sunset from a great viewing spot, then we walked to the dinner area in the middle of the desert for a candle-lit three-course buffet (the main items were Kangaroo burgers, Crocodile meat, Barramundi Fish fry and Lamb Chops. Being vejjitarians, we had to settle for a onju pona pasta and salad. Hmph. The outback is not a good place to be a vegetarian). While we were getting ready to have desserts, suddenly all the lights were turned off. We were in the middle of nowhere and it was pitch dark. Just then, an astronomer introduced himself and gave us a tour of the southern night sky. In the darkness, the night sky was a breathtaking sight.! We could see so many stars, I could clearly see the Milky way spread across the wide horizon.

The astronomer showed us the following:

a. Zodiac signs. Signs like Capricorn, Scorpio, Aries were easy to recognise. Certain zodiac signs required us to use extensive imagination to recognise them from cluster of stars.

b. Southern Cross. The astronomer told us how ancient explorers and native Aboriginal people used Southern Cross for navigation. He showed us how to determine which direction is south by applying simple trigonometry on Southern Cross. Very neat!

c. There were two telescopes from which we could see Saturn and the Butterfly cluster. I've never seen Butterfly cluster before. It was a beauty!

d. Nebulae, Venus & Mars.

It was a fantastic night. I'd do Sound of Silence again just to gaze at the stars in pitch darkness.


  1. Read about Ayers Rock recently in a novel called '3 weeks with my brother'!! Great pictures..thanks for sharing :) The colour changing bit was very interesting.

  2. beautiful photos...

    looks like you took the photos facing this a traditional vantage point to view sunset at ayers rock?

    i love stargazing...i did that when i went to yosemite national forest last is an unbelievable experience...would love to do it more often

  3. lostworld, thanks :) will check out 3 weeks with my brother.

    Me, thank you :) yea, i think I was facing SE-ish. traditional vantage point? - no. the tour operator took us to a better place which was slightly elevated and had a better view. the traditional viewpoint is more closer to the rock and is usually crowded.

  4. Your commentary has taken me once again to Uluru-kuluru. Did not realise that southern cross had a very small star that is not as bright as rest of others...This blog is a window to the others who could be motivated to go to Uluru. Good work

  5. the story of lara, kuniya is worth a note....India is not alone in having some stories like has the company of Australia and New Zealand too..

  6. interesting blog & beautiful snaps, i will visit ur blog very often, hope u go for this website to increase visitor.Happy Blogging!!!

  7. Hey Sri =) Mind blowing virtual tour. I am definitely doing the beautiful sound of silence... I love the photo with ur parents too - esp aunty's pleasant smile =)
    @ anonymous: what is this story of lara and kuniya?

  8. Kalakal Pics. Looks like its been ages since i visited the blogosphere.Matha postlam padichu comment podren:) Hope life s good:)

  9. anon & maria, thanks :)

    pearl, thanks:) lara & kuniya were lovers. they were from different tribes hence their love was not accepted. they were killed in the ensuing clashes.

    archana, laang time no see. welcome back! :)

  10. Bro, this is a great post to go with a bunch of awesome pictures. Your post certainly has left me with a desire to visit Uluru (Ayers Rock) and experience the Sound of Silence.

    I am sure the tour of the southern night sky would have been far better than visiting Auckland's Stardome Observatory and Planetarium. I hope Appa and Amma had a great time too.

  11. thanks machi.

    ive never been to AKL's observatory (This is the one near One Tree Hill right?). Perhaps we'll visit the Observatory when I am there for xmas.

  12. Yep, that is the one. Sure da, we will do that.

  13. Great images! Great story! Uluru is on my bucket list of places I'd like to photograph. Just great.

  14. Nice photos.. Where is it from?? Chumma...just kidding :)

    1. sowmya, nanri hei :) i was gonna check your blog permisshan! :D

  15. Sariee,i think i accidentally made some changes to the settings. Ippo try pannungha!

    1. mmhmm illa sowmya. ippavum Blogger says permission denied. In your blogger Settings > Basic, under Permissions, check if you've got correct settings.

    2. I've made some changes. I think there shouldn't be any prablem now!

  16. Heheh. T-Nagar la tea venum'gra madhri dhaan idhuvum :P