Up at 5am. Walk around like a Zombie (combo of not a morning person + a cold). Discover tea for a gold coin donation at reception. Yay! Off to Kata-Tjuta (formerly known as The Olgas) this morning.
I've pre-booked the Hop on - Hop off bus. It was bit hard to find out about it but after layers of clicking on the website it turned up and looked like it gave a bit more flexibility than the AAT Kings tours. Turns out it wasn't as flexible as I would have liked. Photography is all about being in the right place for the light but the bus drivers have different priorities. Like getting away from the Sunrise Viewing platform quickly so you get to the Kata-Tjuta car park early enough to beat the queue for the loo. As it was, they were all on the bus waiting for me because the sun was in just the right spot and couldn't walk past it. I grabbed a couple super quick shots and then had to leave.
There are two walks you can do at Kata-Tjuta. A long one and a short one. I was going to settle for the short one because I felt like death warmed up, but at the last minute chose to suck it up and do the 3 hour walk. Aptly named Valley of the Winds.
I expected this to be the highlight of my trip, having been told more than once that Kata-Tjuta was even better than Uluru. I think my experience was unduly influenced by being sick as a dog with only Paracetemol to get me through. It is definitely an amazing place, but I didn't have the spiritual connection to the environment that I feel would be possible. I was just too sick to connect with anything other than a packet of tissues. The wind was howling, it was cold, and the track was rough. Apart from that, it was great. The colours were absolutely jaw dropping. Rich reds, vivid greens and bold blues like I've never seen before. I felt the pressure to keep moving so I'd make it back in time for the bus pickup. I'd assumed a drop off/pick up bus would mean you could just get on the next one, but it didn't work that way. Without the time pressure I think I would have enjoyed it much more, could have gone at a slower pace and stop and rested more often. And stopped and taken more photos! Or taken more time to take better photos?
Did I mention the size? Phenomenal. (Look how tiny the people are in the above photo). And the gorges and valleys were delightful. There were enough wildflowers to buoy my spirits but the time constraints and being sick and my dodgy old knees meant I missed ample photo opportunities.
Made it back to the bus with time to spare. In to town for cold and flu tabs, a jumper, and brekky/lunch. And then a sleep, with the plan to get back on the bus to Uluru in the early afternoon to do the base walk.