Mon 01/09/14 350kms to Yulara today ... everyone is very excited to be going to see 'The Rock'. Took some snaps of Mount Conner along the way, which cuts an impressive tabletop figure of its own. Fuel and food stop at Curtin Springs Roadhouse; the fuel pumps are padlocked here and you have to wait for someone to come out and refuel your vehicle. From the air, Mt Conner, Uluru & Kata Tjuta are in direct alignment with each other, but are all at least 50kms apart ... has something to do with a major geological 'fold' event many millions of years ago. Rounding a bend in the road we got our first glimpse of Ayers Rock and The Olgas from 40kms away - they live up to our expectations and become more impressive the closer we get ..... fabulous to behold. Arrived at the Ayers Rock Campground around 2.30pm, kids found Karla & Erica from Alice Springs and were off playing in a flash. They (the Nicholls family) climbed the rock today, so Mikey & I had a chat with parents, Alistair & Kelly, to get the low down; sounded a bit hairy. Lukas had another sleep walk adventure this evening. About midnight K heard footsteps and rustlings; investigation found Lukas up stuffing his doona under the kitchen table. When questioned, he said he was 'busy' and then dreamily allowed himself to be guided back to his bed.
Tues 02/09/14 6am alarm to get to the rock by 7am for the first wind check and see if it's open for climbing; hoping to miss the heat of the day. Approaching at sunrise is magical - the rock grows and grows, becoming redder and redder the closer we get; it is absolutely enormous and extremely captivating. We arrive, it looks so steep, it's only 12oC with gusting icy winds - the climb is closed! Kids are half shattered, half relieved after having been given a strict safety speech in the car. Took a drive around the perimeter and stopped for many photos - even Piggy, Pony and Pooh Bear came along to be in some pics! Climb still closed at the 8am check, so headed to the Cultural Centre to have a look around; lots of "don't climb" messages about the place,. Informative displays and local indigenous art to see. Grabbed a bite to eat at the cafe; 10am check - still closed, still gusting and wind still icy cold! Decided to give it up for the day and hike the Olgas instead. 50km drive to these rock formations which are also very impressive as you approach. There are 36 'heads', the highest of which being 200mt taller than Ayers Rock. Stopped for snaps at a lookout then continued on to hike The Valley of the Winds and Walpa Gorge - both very, very windy - Lexi & Mikey sat out the gorge walk - saving their energy for the rock climb. Back at camp, Charli & Isabel from Alice had arrived, so LBA rounded up Karla & Erica and all were soon engaged in a busy, loud game of 'hide'n'seek team chasey'... or something like that ... kept them running til 8pm when they collapsed into bed. K&M enjoyed a peaceful, kid free viewing of the sun setting on Uluru & Kata Tjuta from the campground lookout. Chatted with Natalie & Stewart (Charli & Izzys parents), they hoping to climb tomorrow too, so we plan to meet up in the morning.
Wed 03/09/14 6am alarm again - boo! Stillness and 9oC at camp... arrive at Uluru by 7.30am ..... cold and windy, climb is closed. Shivering while we wait for 8am check with Nat & Stewy, we notice several park rangers hanging around the climb gate. We discover that very early this morning some twits jumped the fence and headed up the rock despite the "climb closed due to high winds" sign; rangers waiting at base to detain & fine them once they come down. Eventually two dots appear and the crowd gathered at the bottom enjoy the show as the idiots come down full of bravado until they are accosted by the rangers and presented with on the spot fines of $520 each. Winds seems to be lessening, so we all head to the cultural centre cafe for hot chocolates, hot pies and hot chips to warm our cores and wait. Look around the centre until 10am and back we go .... yes, they're opening it, today's the day!! Much better now the sun has come round this side of the rock, the cold has gone and the winds have dropped. Butterflies kick in, kids are again given the "stay in designated order, do not let go of the chain" speech ... after which they race off like speedy rock spiders, zoom up the very steep base to the chain and on further upwards. Eventually we manage to get them to halt, assume our discussed order of persons - L, A, K, B, M - then continue. It's steep going up and it's a steep drop off on either side ... soon enough you feel your calves burn. The chain is low to the rock, almost touching it, so you have to bend and/or lift it. It also occasionally changes to a thicker gauge, making it a little more awkward for the kids smaller hands. They all do brilliantly, following instructions on how many posts we walk at time, stopping to enjoy the amazing view and take a breather every so often ... or to let those 'in a hurry' overtake us. Surprised by the number of nuffies who decide to climb meters from the chain ... did I mention it is steep as? ... one slip and you are a goner ... there is absolutley nothing (other than the chain) to grab to stop your fall. A 70+ y/o chinese man zoom-shuffled to the top of the chain and then zoom-shuffled back down at speed - we all sat and gripped the posts - kids told not to let go if he grabbed them should he slip. After clambering up some near vertical sections we reach the top of the chain in 45 mins; half way. Next we follow the white lines up and down and up and down the seemingly never ending steep, deep undulations across the top, reaching the apex in a total of 1hr 20mins. Lollie snakes, water, photos and phone calls to Mummar & Granddad, Nanna & Poppy, Coimadai PS and Boeing. Exhilarating 360degree views...amazing, amazing, amazing....can clearly see Mt Conner, The Olgas and a vast desert emptiness to the horizon in every direction. Soon enough it's time to make our descent ... K & L lead the team back along the ridges to the top of the chain .... wow, it seems steeper looking down ..... reverse order for down with M, "the catcher", going first, then B K A & L; though L had to be 're-ordered' to between K & B to distance his 'helpful' coaching from an unappreciative A. No puffing on the way down, but can feel muscle fatigue in legs, back etc from continually bending to keep kids on the chain. Can walk some sections forwards or sidestepping, with other sections requiring backwards using the chain abseil style. Had to squat down or sit a few times due to wind gusts. Temp topped at 28oC with a strong breeze, so overall about the best conditions we could have hoped for. Reach the base in 1 hour .... yippee, we did it!! Fantastic achievement .... very proud of our kiddywinks ... minimal fussing and no panicking .... well done eveyone! Back to van for a feed then don our togs to meet Kelly & Al, Stew & Nat and kids at 'Sails in the Desert Resort' heated pool to soak our muscles and have celebratory drinks and de-brief chat. Kids engage in pool game of Marco Polo. Top, top day. We'll sleep well tonight!
04/09/14 After planning a lovely sleep in, KB&A wide awake at 6am AGAIN, so toddle off to lookout to watch the sunrise; a still morning and wonderful colours. Surprisingly none of us have any real muscle soreness today...heated pools must have done the trick...that or the poolside drinks followed by the celebratory bottle of Penfolds Cab Sav given to us by Georgia & Ron back home for a special occasion! Relax / utility day - leisurely did some laundry, tidied the shambles inside the van, caught up on kids journals and maths, lunched and then M took billy lids for a reward swim and soft drink while K ...you guessed it... hit the blog!