We must have taken a hundred photos as the Olgas came into view.
Although we had been driving for three days to get there, we couldn't resist stopping for a look before making our way to Yulara where we'd be camping.
We drove around the perimeter of the rock taking in the views and it's sheer size. None of the photos we'd seen had prepared us for how beautiful this Australian icon is.
We were also really surprised at how green the area around Uluru is. We were both expecting an arid sandy desert with a rock sitting in the middle of it. The clear blue sky and red rock looked magnificent against the greenery.
It's easy to see how early peoples would have attributed a spirituality to this awesome place.
The following day we visited the Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the base of the rock. It was made up of several linked buildings which told of the history and beliefs of the local Aboriginals as well as their connection to Uluru. It's an impressive display and it took us more than one visit to take it all in.
Unfortunately no photography is allowed at the centre. The photo below was taken at the pathway to the entrance.
That evening we visited the rock at sunset.
As the sun sets it casts shadows and changes the colours of the rock. It was stunningly beautiful.
Mike took a sequence of shots as the sun set. We created this slide show so you could see the rock change with the movement of the sun. Believe me, the movie doesn't do it justice.
When Uluru was returned to the Aboriginals it was done so under the condition that people would still be allowed to climb. Today climbing is allowed, but is considered an act of disrespect by Aboriginal people.
Park rangers are working hard to educate people and convince them that Uluru has so much more to offer than a climb. There are various requests and explanations throughout the Cultural Centre asking visitors not to climb, and the sign below is at the base of the rock at the climb site. They close the climb if it is too windy or hot for safety, but otherwise it is left up to each person to decide for themselves.
Before we saw the climbing area Mike and I had decided that we would respect the wishes of the traditional owners and not climb. Once we saw the climb we were more than happy with our decision. :)
There's a chain that starts about 100 meters from the base. We saw many people struggling to even get that far, and saw some turn back.
The people below have not yet reached the chain and it is already extremely steep. The climbers to the right of the photo are on all fours.
We took a walk around the base of the rock that was beautiful. There were a few sections that are sacred sites where we weren't allowed to photograph.
That evening we went on a dune walk to reach a lovely vantage point from which to view the Olgas at sunset.