2 June 1999

Kata Tjuta at Dawn

  • Daria standing in front of our tent
  • I didn't get much sleep last night.  However, I did enjoy walking to the restroom with Daria at 3 am because the camping area was totally silent, and the full moon illuminated the campground in a soft blue-white light.  Very tranquil.

    We were awakened by Marty at 5.  The other sleepy campers emerged from their tents and made their way in the windy cold morning to the brightly-lit restrooms.  We ate a quick breakfast and got on the bus.  We were rushing to beat the sunrise.


  • Kata Tjuta in the morning sun
  • The bus travelled in the pre-dawn darkness to Kata Tjuta (the Olgas).  We parked in an empty lot and hiked to a place among the various "heads", or hills.  There are around 36 heads, depending on whether the small lumps are counted or not.


  • Marty, our tour guide
  • An ancient tree
  • Walking through the heads
  • The group split into two: a short hike would lead to a scenic lookout, and a longer hike made its way around the heads.  We took the longer hike, which was led by Marty.  The sunrise was muffled by clouds; it even sprinkled a little at first.  But the little sunshine that did come through had painted the heads in a warm red.  The long hike occasionaly led up a hill, from which we could see through the heads to the great plains beyond.  Marty pointed out which trees the Aborigines used to make spears from and a couple medicinal plants.

    We rejoined the group after an hour's hike.  The sun was chasing away the clouds and warmed us up a bit.  Once we returned to the bus, we snacked on granny smith apples.  The bus took us to a scenic overlook, from which we could photograph all the heads of Kata Tjuta in the morning light.  Once again, we beat the crowds and were alone at the overlook.

    We stopped at the Aboriginal Culture Center.  No photographs were allowed on the premesis.  The building resembled a mud hut with a metallic roof, but it had a sleek, curved shape.  Inside were many displays that told about the different Aboriginal peoples.  We could have taken part in a tour led by an Aborigine, but we didn't have the energy - what with Daria's cold and my fatigue.  So we just looked over the items in the gift shop.  Of note were the refridgerator magnets, patches and T-shirts that said, "I didn't climb Uluru" [it demonstrates your respect of the Aboriginees' wishes].

    Next we headed back to the campground to clean out our tents and have lunch.  It was the same as yesterday - sandwiches with cucumbers and pasta salad.  We placed our luggage on board the bus and left the campground.  We made another stop at the bottle shop; this time, we bought a chardonnay.  Then we were off to Kings Canyon.


    Preparing the Bonfire

  • Collecting firewood
  • Storing the firewood
  • Halfway there, Marty stopped the bus in the middle of nowhere.  He instructed us to gather firewood the size of digeridoos.  All I could find lying on the ground were twigs. So people broke off limbs of dead trees.  The dead wood was incredibly dry out here.  Later, I learned that this makes for the best firewood in the world - it doesn't crackle or explode because there's no moisture. We piled the wood high on top of our trailer and secured it for the trip ahead.


  • Kangaroos in captivity at our campground
  • We arrived at the camground, which was called King's Creek Station.  They had kangaroos in a fenced-off area, all relaxing in the afternoon sun.  They would dig a ditch in which to lie down.  One kangaroo had a baby in its pouch.  It turned away from us before we could photograph it.  There was also a helicopter pad which offered flights around the area.  We decided to try that tomorrow.

    At our campsite, we chose our tent and unloaded the firewood.  The campsite featured a fire pit which contained coals that had been burning for 8 years.  We placed the smaller branches on the coals, and within minutes they burst into flame.  We relaxed a bit before dinner.  We sipped wine while talking around the fire.  Marty brought out four covered pots.  Three of them were placed in the fire pit; he placed the last one outside, then covered it with coals.  This contained a special type of bread made with an Aboriginal recipe.  The coals caused it to rise in the pot.  When served, it was thick and spongy - and delicious.


  • At the campfire
  • After dinner, Daria, the other American and I toasted marshmallows and passed them out to people, some of which had never tried it before.  The helicopter pilots joined us and pointed out the Southern Cross constellation - only seen in the southern hemisphere.   The topmost and bottommost stars formed a line that pointed due south.  Because the camp was in the middle of nowhere, we could see the Milky Way; this was the first time Daria had seen it in her life.  Then Marty returned and told us of the next day's events.  He then asked us to introduce ourselves, say where we lived and describe what we did for a living.  Afterwards, Daria and I exucused ourselves early and went to bed.

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