juliet: (round the world)
It was a very pretty rainbow, as well. What with the rain and the wind, it's been borderline cold here, which is most peculiar.

Just a quick update as there is a noisy thing on the TV behind me, & also I'm knackered. In the end I drove down to Uluru/Kata Tjuta, which was in fact rather fun. Much though I am not particularly in favour of cars, I do quite enjoy driving, and road trips do feel freeing. (The first solo travel I did was driving round the SW of the US when I was 21, which was absolutely fantastic.) It's much the same feeling as with a bike, but you can cover a lot more ground in a car.

I did the morning tour from these people, which was really interesting - our guide showed us various useful plants, and some bushcraft skills (making glue from spinifex grass), and we got to have a go at throwing spears and carrying wooden plates on our heads. She also told us (via an interpreter - she does speak English but the Anangu guides prefer to use their own language for the tours) some of the stories associated with Uluru. There are limitations in Anangu law about who can be told what of Tjukurpa (Dreaming/Dreamtime) stories and cultures, so I think the tourists basically get the version for kids.

It did make a real difference in how I experienced Uluru, though. In the afternoon (after a nap, because sunrise is just before 6am and that was an early start) I did the walk around the base of it - which is when it rained, and there was a rainbow. But knowing something about the stories associated with parts of the rock, and about the plants around it, gave me a much better context for looking at things. Both parts of the rock - the python woman and her eggs, the marks of the devil dog who chased the Malu (some information on these stories here) - and the plants and habitat and stuff around it. I wound up thinking quite a bit about the extent to which attaching meaning to places and landscapes renders them human-accessible; which is I suppose a large part of the point of the cultural background/stories. I saw Uluru as much more part of the landscape as a whole after the tour, & looking through the information, than I did when I'd been out to see it the evening before. Another advantage of the rain/cloud cover was that nearly no one else was out there. Also there are cave paintings!

This morning I headed out to Kata Tjuta, about which I don't know any of the cultural background, because the limitations about what can be told to people are much stricter so none of it is shared. Which was a different sort of experience, but also very powerful. I couldn't do the Valley of the Winds walk, as planned, because it turned out very quickly that it's not compatible with one or all of sandals, the HOLE still in my foot, and my dodgy feet generally. (I'd rather have been wearing boots, but the HOLE prevents this as they hurt too much.) But this turned out to be a good thing, because instead I walked into Walpu Gorge (a shorter and less rocky walk). Which was absolutely deserted, and absolutely beautiful. Walking out of the gorge and seeing the desert stretching away into the distance in front of me was incredible and breath-catching.

Which reminds me: I'd always envisaged the desert as being, well, desert-y. Sand and that. And it does have sand (lots of red sand); but also trees, and grass, and flowers, and bushes - scrubland desert rather than sand-dune desert. It's not what you'd call fertile, but there's clearly a lot of very diverse life going on.

And many lizards, one of which I unfortunately hit on the way back (a Thorny Devil, which is at least v common, not that that makes much difference to the lizard in question) :-( On the upside, I managed to avoid lots of other lizards - they like sitting on the road - and shooed a couple out of the road. Although the other Thorny Devil I saw and stopped to look at absolutely point-blank refused to move whatever I did (short of touching it, which I didn't want to do), so I gave up on that.

Tomorrow: off to Adelaide.
juliet: (round the world)
It was a very pretty rainbow, as well. What with the rain and the wind, it's been borderline cold here, which is most peculiar.

Just a quick update as there is a noisy thing on the TV behind me, & also I'm knackered. In the end I drove down to Uluru/Kata Tjuta, which was in fact rather fun. Much though I am not particularly in favour of cars, I do quite enjoy driving, and road trips do feel freeing. (The first solo travel I did was driving round the SW of the US when I was 21, which was absolutely fantastic.) It's much the same feeling as with a bike, but you can cover a lot more ground in a car.

I did the morning tour from these people, which was really interesting - our guide showed us various useful plants, and some bushcraft skills (making glue from spinifex grass), and we got to have a go at throwing spears and carrying wooden plates on our heads. She also told us (via an interpreter - she does speak English but the Anangu guides prefer to use their own language for the tours) some of the stories associated with Uluru. There are limitations in Anangu law about who can be told what of Tjukurpa (Dreaming/Dreamtime) stories and cultures, so I think the tourists basically get the version for kids.

It did make a real difference in how I experienced Uluru, though. In the afternoon (after a nap, because sunrise is just before 6am and that was an early start) I did the walk around the base of it - which is when it rained, and there was a rainbow. But knowing something about the stories associated with parts of the rock, and about the plants around it, gave me a much better context for looking at things. Both parts of the rock - the python woman and her eggs, the marks of the devil dog who chased the Malu (some information on these stories here) - and the plants and habitat and stuff around it. I wound up thinking quite a bit about the extent to which attaching meaning to places and landscapes renders them human-accessible; which is I suppose a large part of the point of the cultural background/stories. I saw Uluru as much more part of the landscape as a whole after the tour, & looking through the information, than I did when I'd been out to see it the evening before. Another advantage of the rain/cloud cover was that nearly no one else was out there. Also there are cave paintings!

This morning I headed out to Kata Tjuta, about which I don't know any of the cultural background, because the limitations about what can be told to people are much stricter so none of it is shared. Which was a different sort of experience, but also very powerful. I couldn't do the Valley of the Winds walk, as planned, because it turned out very quickly that it's not compatible with one or all of sandals, the HOLE still in my foot, and my dodgy feet generally. (I'd rather have been wearing boots, but the HOLE prevents this as they hurt too much.) But this turned out to be a good thing, because instead I walked into Walpu Gorge (a shorter and less rocky walk). Which was absolutely deserted, and absolutely beautiful. Walking out of the gorge and seeing the desert stretching away into the distance in front of me was incredible and breath-catching.

Which reminds me: I'd always envisaged the desert as being, well, desert-y. Sand and that. And it does have sand (lots of red sand); but also trees, and grass, and flowers, and bushes - scrubland desert rather than sand-dune desert. It's not what you'd call fertile, but there's clearly a lot of very diverse life going on.

And many lizards, one of which I unfortunately hit on the way back (a Thorny Devil, which is at least v common, not that that makes much difference to the lizard in question) :-( On the upside, I managed to avoid lots of other lizards - they like sitting on the road - and shooed a couple out of the road. Although the other Thorny Devil I saw and stopped to look at absolutely point-blank refused to move whatever I did (short of touching it, which I didn't want to do), so I gave up on that.

Tomorrow: off to Adelaide.

September 2017

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