Our five am wake-up call was delayed a half hour because Gavin had noticed that the low-beam on one of the bus headlights wasn’t working and he wanted it fixed. We were supposed to watch the sunrise at Kata-Tjuta (the Olgas) but the delayed start meant we would be driving in the bus while the sun came up so Gavin told us to climb the hill beside our camp and watch the sunrise from there. Some type of ant makes these perfectly round raised-side entrances to their nest.
The previous November my knees had begun to bother me and they were really painful if I did any stairs, or climbing and clamboring, and truth-be-told, just plain walking. I had never had trouble with my knees before and nothing seemed to make them better. However, I have Swedish and Scottish blood in my veins and I would not let a little pain stop me from seeing the very place I have longed to go since childhood. After the long walk around Uluru the day before, my knees really did not like the rugged track in Kata-Tjuta so I told Gavin to take the rest of the group on ahead and I would make my way at a slower pace. The last kilometer of the 3 1/2 hour hike was a steep uphill climb to a lookout. I decided to not slow down the group and stayed behind to rest my knees, take some photos, cool off in the shade of the trees, and then begin to make my way back to the bus so as to not hold up the group on the way back. They caught up with me about half-way back so it worked out well. Once again, there is lots of green grass where normally it is red dirt. And water, where, by now in the season, the pools would be dry. As I said the aboriginal people had selected Kata-Tjuta as the more sacred place than Uluru so out of respect for their culture there was no climbing allowed. You could hike through the middle but not climb any of the rock domes. Like Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata-Tjuta (the Olgas) is an Australian National Park and the whole area is protected. The local aboriginal people have access to the site for their ceremonial gatherings and the park will be closed to outsiders on those days. This is a VERY large bug! Much of the route is not so much a path as a wear pattern on the rocks with the occasional arrow pointing the way. See the little blue directional arrrow tacked on the rock (above)?After our hike we headed for Kings Creek Cattle Station 300 km (186 miles) away and our campsite for the night. We had two stops along the way. The first was to see a large salt lake and the second was to gather some dry wood for the fire. Gavin was making ‘bush tucker’ for dinner.
At camp we selected our tent, got our sleeping bags ready, helped prepare the vegetables and meat Gavin wanted peeled and chopped, and set the tables before having a shower. While Gavin tended dinner we all hiked up the hill to watch the sunset, with a beer (for those who like beer – not me though) and some snacks.
The four large cast-iron pots are put directly into the fire pit, each with different ingredients and spices – two chicken dishes and two vegetable dishes. Gavin would stir things now and again and keep the coals hot. He had the young fellow in the group help him make the ‘damper;’ a mix of flour, raisins, dates and water, which was also cooked in a pot on the fire. After dinner it was dishes and off to bed at 9:30. An even earlier start was scheduled for the next day (4:30 am) for our 7 km hike around the rim of Kings Canyon.