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Old 11-09-2012, 08:39 PM   #44
platypus121 OP
CT.110 NZ
 
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Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Oddometer: 106
Birtles vs Australia



ACT 15
Kings Canyon to Kata Tjuta


In which Trees are unerringly identified, I give up the Fluglehorn, there
is a Lot of Red and Many Heads, Grimpeur climbs, there are Dancing Lessons.



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On the road from Kings Canyon, a Eucalypt makes a welcome oasis for Birtles and me,






and bees find their oasis in a leaking pressure valve on a water pipeline.







Eucalypts - living art galleries, and havens for many of the smaller residents of Earth.







Curtin Springs has free camping, but we push on to Yulara where the tent
area is excellent and reasonably priced considering its location and monopoly
over the Ayers Rock area.


I stop to practise identifying trees, something I have become quite expert at -
From left to right: Large Desert Oak, medium Desert Oak, Desert Oak, another
Desert Oak, group of young Desert Oaks, three Desert Oaks, Desert Oak,
big Desert Oak.







“Little Red”







Kota is at Yulara, having cycled the Stuart and Lasseter Highways, 443 kilometres,
since leaving Alice five days ago. I chide him for his laxness - he has averaged
a mere 88.6 kilometers a day, 1.4 km short of his daily target of 90 km.
Irony has never had a passport to cross the language barrier so he takes me
seriously and earnestly promises to get back on target.

Kota is another who wants to climb, leaving camp at 5:30am the next morning,
time enough to reach the sunrise observation area before Big Yellow comes
up, and the Rock itself before the crowds arrive. I figure leaving at 6:00am
will get us there for sunrise, but miscalculate what speed and distance is
possible in the desert’s pre-dawn, sub-zero temperatures. It is breaking my
own rule of avoiding riding when the creatures of the night are partying,
but at least the danger is lessened by our speed which is reduced to suit
the candle glimmer of Birtles’ headlight. The tinted visor is no help, either.
In the gloom we miss the observation area turn off and end up at the Rock,
hands frozen around the grips.


By the time the sun comes up I can move several fingers,
but it is doubtful I will ever play the flugelhorn again.







Mr Moloch comes out with the sun, trying to get a bit of heat into his body.
He’s a thorny devil, but very passive and doesn’t seem to mind being picked up.






A ride around the perimeter road to see the Rock’s changing faces.













Back at the car park we see a string of ants already on the march to the
summit. Kota is limbering up, ready to climb.







So is Grimpeur. This is what he has been waiting for.
He already has his boots off and will climb bare-foot.







Kota is going to the top and beyond, I plan to go to the end of the chain hand-hold.
After that, the path flattens out (good), the track narrows (bad) and vertigo soars (terrible).
I know this from previous climbs and am not ambitious. I know my limits - when my head spins, down I go.



From partway up Uluru (the monolith formerly known as “Ayers Rock”)
we get a good view of Kata Tjuta (the formations formerly known as “Mount Olga”)
in the distance (the far away place formerly known as “way over there”).







As the chain ends, vertigo starts. I flatten and cling like a limpet to the rock surface,
pass Grimpeur up to Kota, and gasp out

”Leave me, I’m done for. It’s up to you now… finish mission.
Take Grimpeur… get him… get him to… the top good luck good ….”








Using the Braille Method I make my way ground level - lovely, safe, ground level.
The Rock looms above me, gloating in victory, but I am content knowing that
somewhere up there a very small bear with a very big heart is fulfilling his dream.







Birtles’ front carrier has a note attached. Lyall and Kaye have recognised him
and have left directions so I can find them and have a cuppa back at camp.

Which is really rather fortunate, because the chances of getting a drink here
have been severely compromised. Bob Dylan (the artist formerly known as
Robert Zimmerman)
foresaw this sorry state of affairs -
“The pump don’t work ‘cause the vandals took the handles.”







Birtles, glowing in the sunset.






-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



The layout of Yulara is exceptional. Accommodation ranges from $1026 to
$15 a night with each style of lodging having its own area and facilities to
protect those arriving via Bentley from the sight of a CT rider …. and vise-versa.
Everything blends into the desert and is arranged to have the smallest impact
on the environment. All very commendable.

Which makes it just a tiny wee bit disappointing to find Ayers Rock and
Mount Olga have been positioned so far apart. Closer placement would
have meant a huge reduction in travel costs and CO2 emissions.
Maybe climate change was not a reality back then.

The road to Kata Tjuta, like that to Uluru, curls and twists through the desert
so that we view our target from several angles. Just before arriving, the
Great Central Road swings off to the west and tempts us for a few kilometers.

Just a few.







Warning ! Cliché photograph follows ….
Karingana Lookout on the Valley of the Winds circuit walk.







One of the “Many Heads” which is what Kata Tjuta translates to.







Only two of the previous twelve walks around Kata Tjuta are still open to
the public, which is a shame as these cover only a small fraction of what there
is to see here. It’s a cultural thing, so there would be no point in complaining.



Ignoring the warning sign and displaying an appalling lack of cultural sensitivity,
I peek into the area reserved for Sacred Break-Dancing Ceremonies and pick
up a few moves to impress the folks back at home.







To be continued ……………



Bernard
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