Sunday, October 2, 1988 - Ayers Rock / Uluru Alarm clock in Yulara Resort wakes me up at 5:30 am. Departure to the Ayers Rock (known as Uluru to the Australian Aboriginals) is at 7am. It is sunny and the skies are clear. After 25 minutes the bus stops under the Ayers Rock in a place, where a chain helps people climb the very steep wall. Everywhere else on Ayers Rock the walls are almost perpendicular. People along the chain resemble a row of ants. Ayers Rock is 3.6 km long and 348 m high over the flat terrain around it. Some 2/3 of the Rock is hidden underground. It is suppose to be the biggest rock in the world. I start to climb at 7:30 pm. Despite the steep slope, it is not beyond my reach. After climbing the first third, I begin to worry, how I would handle the steep descent. It frightens me to look down to the foot of the mountain. While sitting on a rock, wondering what to do, I decide that I would rather go down from this height, than from a higher place later. Soon, however, I find that the descent is quite easy. After getting down about one half of the previous assent, I make a new decision that I would climb this famous mountain after all. But I think I wasted some energy and the climbing is not as easy any more. In addition, due to steepness of the Rock, one has to climb leaning forward, almost squatting. My knees hurt. After 40 minutes climbing, at the upper end of the chain that leads up to the plateau at the top of the Rock, my knees became soft. At this time I can’t even stand on my legs. I am collapsing on the ground and watching other people continuing walking over the more or less flat top of the mountain to the middle of it, where there is perhaps a triangulation point. I am surprised by the old Japanese, both men and women, for whom (at least it seems to me) the climbing of Ayers Rock is not a big deal. This morning the temperature was pleasant, but it is increasing every minute. At 8:20 I am recuperated enough to start going down. The descent goes well and I'm down in 20 minutes. I am thirsty, I drink Coca-Cola, which I have with me. Then I go to look in a nearby cave in the so-called Kantju Gorge on the side of the Ayers Rock massif. There are Aboriginal paintings inside. They were made by the indigenous people who inhabited this area for more than 22 tis.years. After a while, I return back to my bus. The heat is getting to me, so I drink cold water that is available on the bus. A drive around the Ayers Rock follows. We go counterclockwise. The asphalt road around the Rock is about 12 km long. Our driver / guide shows us more paintings in another cave at a water hole. On arrival we disturb few bugs in its water. According to our driver, one can drink the water if there is something alive in it. Water without life may be poisoned. The sun is blazing and it's hot. The sun cap, bought few days ago in Alice Springs, comes handy. Next stop is a fotostop with the view of the Olgas in the distance. Olgas (known as Kata Tjuta to the Aboriginals) is another natural mountain formation and an Aboriginal cultural monument located 32 km northwest of Ayers Rock., which I visited yesterday. At this stop we are made aware of a formation on the side of Ayers Rock resembling the human brain, “Noru” for the Aboriginals. Other formations have names in the Aboriginal language according their shape. Soon after we arrive to Kantju Gorge with a large waterfall (only when it rains). I was here just after climbing the Rock. When finished checking the cave with the paintings, we continue nonstop to the Ranger Station. There is a make-believe Aboriginal village. Tourists, among them a lot of young Japanese, are buying souvenirs in a shop. I buy only a Coca-Cola. I am leaving these majestic mountain formations before noon.
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