How many times have you met tourists who’ve seen more of your country than you have?
Even though I felt like I’ve done quite a bit of travelling around this vast ol’ Aussie continent, much of it has been during roadtrips with my family in childhood (#AreWeThereYet #MumImBored) or as an adult, to places that are hiking Meccas as I heed the call to bushwalking prayer.
A few years back I realised that there’s a whole chunk of the tourist destination market (mostly iconic overseas images of Australia) that I’d simply never been to. These are the ones that I had to admit to never seeing, feeling somewhat embarrassed, whenever overseas visitors raved about them.
So, I set about forming a list of places in my own country, that I’d like to see. I call it the, “DRUANTH” list or Down-Right-un-Australian-Not-To-Have, list. It is made up of two rough types, being 1) tourist icons and 2) bushwalking/hiking friendly. The nice thing is finding ones that can be on both lists!
Uluru at Sunset (Pic: Caro Ryan)
The video above is my visual reflection of my first visit to Uluru Kata-Tjuta NP visit. I felt like I needed to experience this place for myself, feel it and listen to the sounds of it, learn what it has to teach me.
Windswept tree at Uluru (pic: Caro Ryan)
My feelings were that I found Uluru to be an immensely sad place, it had a heaviness about it. I was astounded that people still felt that they needed to climb to the top given the gentle requests of the local traditional owners. I took part in the free interpretative guided walk with the ranger and then walked the easy 9.4 km around the base as well as spent a good amount of time at the Discovery Centre trying to learn what I could.
Walking track around Uluru (pic: Caro Ryan)
The feelings at Kata Tjuta were in stark contrast to those that I felt at Uluru. As I set off along the Valley of the Winds Circuit (7.4km – they say 4 hrs, I did it in 1hr 45min) I felt a welcoming, a warmth (that wasn’t just the 33 degree temps!) and a sense of laughter.
Moon over Kata Tjuta – Valley of the Winds walk (pic: Caro Ryan)
Although I was alone, like at Uluru, this time I felt welcomed in this place. Hard to describe and probably sounds a bit wacky, but this was my experience.
Kata Tjuta – Valley of the Winds walk (pic: Caro Ryan)
On the third day of my trip, I travelled out to Kings Canyon which is a 652km round trip from Yulara (the accommodation village at Uluru), which means that if you’re going to do it alone, in a day, then snoozing on a tour bus that departs before dawn with a breakfast stop on the way, is definitely the best way to go.
Kings Canyon (pic: Caro Ryan)
Although I enjoyed the easy 6km loop track around the rim of the canyon, it really is only a taster for much more adventurous trips in the area. I kept wishing I was with some hiking friends, with our gear and could runaway from the tour group!
I’m super keen to return and do the Giles Track and Kathleen Springs walks that my bushwalking friends Tom Brennan and Rachel Grindley documented in their great website with amazing photos that I’ve linked to here.
And just so you don’t get a shock when you get there…
You know how you always see lovely photographs of Uluru at sunrise or sunset – the classic picture postcard shot that give a sense of isolation?…
Uluru sunset on grass (Pic: Caro Ryan)
… this is what you are surrounded by whilst trying to find your sense of wonder and isolation, witnessing the colours changing on Uluru.
Hoards of tourists, wining and dining, jostling for position to the sound of camera snaps… but it’s worth it!
So, if you’re coming as a private traveller, BYO otherwise you’ll start salivating for all the goodies that people around you are enjoying.
What destinations are on your DRUANTH list (for the Aussies) or the DRU*NTH list (for everyone else)?