Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
Another 5am wakeup call! Ugh. I sure could use a full nightâ€™s sleep after all of this *waking up in darkness* stuff. I was, however, able to have 2 cups of coffee before our 6:00 departure for a sunrise viewing of The Olgas (Kata Tjuta). We were absolutely swarmed by flies and the sunrise was rubbish – once again, no red rocks!
We drove around to the Olgas right after and began our hike through the Valley of the Winds. My expectations werenâ€™t too high and I figured weâ€™d just be walking around some big rocks while being attacked by flies. We began just before 8am and the sunlight was hitting everything quite nicely. We walked down a ledge, taking photos of the rocks every few seconds. The sky was dark blue, rocks looking orange, plenty of green vegetation everywhere. We were basically surrounded by enormous rocks in a lush valley. It was UNREAL. Of course Iâ€™m going to continue describing it all, but nothing, not even photos, will do it justice.
We paused periodically for breaks and our guide (Nat) would tell us a bit about the area. While we were sitting by a little stream, we actually saw a kangaroo hopping up one of the rocks! It was much too far away to see anything but a silhouette though. Now, for the obligatory scoop on Kata Tjuta [KT]: it means â€œmany headsâ€, and has 36 of them spread out across the valley. We actually only saw a few of them on our hike. The area is sacred to Anangu men and no one else really knows the religious and cultural significance of it. Also, no commercial photography is allowed there, which would be why Iâ€™ve never seen the inside of the Olgas on postcards and such and thus had no idea how amazing it would be.
So I pretty much went picture crazy here, taking shots of the rocks at all different angles and also reflections and trees. We found a little lizard near the path [maybe 14? long?] that of course everyone bombarded with camera lenses. We continued to hike up some cliffs until we reached the 2nd lookout. OH MY GOD. It was like we were seeing a completely different world stationed between and beyond 2 rocks of KT. It looked like a lush land far in the distance.
But it gets better. The second half of the hike brought us into this foreign land. It was basically a path winding through KT, around the rocks and through trees and bush. It was absolutely incredible. I have honestly never seen anything so beautiful and amazing in my life. Itâ€™s kind of like my ideal heaven, except it doesnâ€™t really have any watering holes or waterfalls. But who knows, maybe we just didnâ€™t see any on our hike – I know thereâ€™s a nice gorge somewhere in KT actually so nevermind – it IS my heaven on earth. I can just imagine the aborigines inhabiting the land years ago, frolicking freely and living in the rocks. God, I could have stayed there all day, reading in the fields and staring at the amazing scenery, moving around every once in awhile. I still canâ€™t get over it. I even took a 360-degree video on my camera, but even that wonâ€™t fully capture all the amazingness.
Mike and I walked the whole second-half of the hike together, with the majority of our group finishing 20-25 minutes before we did. Melvin and 4 others finished 10 minutes after us. We took our time though, knowing we werenâ€™t holding the group up since there were people behind us. It was actually nice having another person there to admire it all with, someone who can just shut up and enjoy it all, but occasionally make awe-inspired comments. At the end, we thought weâ€™d gone the wrong way back because nothing looked familiar – but we found the bus just fine after 3 hours of hiking.
On the ride back to camp, we pulled over to check out a thorny devil, a little lizard fairly common in the Outback. So cute! It looks all spiky, but the spikes arenâ€™t sharp.
We had lunch at camp – hamburgers. We were also informed that the 2nd part of our tour, from Alice up to Darwin, had been cancelled. WHAT?!? Only the 3 of us plus Hannah [German, 20] were continuing the tour, but still! Basically, Wayward booked us spots on the Adventure Tours bus, leaving a day later but arriving at the same scheduled time in Darwin. The 2 tours are basically the same, but AT doesnâ€™t have the half-day at Litchfield NP, which blows. Wayward is paying our $50 food/camp fee for us but nothing more. So basically we get $50, then spend about $25 of it on a hostel in Alice since the tour leaves a day later, and we miss out on a big attraction. Great. Could be worse though. Iâ€™m not really complaining, but I did really want to see Litchfield.