We used our last day (Saturday) at Uluru to do all the remaining activities that we had planned in our travel schedule.
After breakfast, Cathy and I set off to walk the last three kilometres around Uluru and finish our circumnavigation of the rock. Thinking of it in terms of a clock, we began at the waterhole at Kuniya (4 o’clock) and walked around to the Mala carpark at 7 o’clock. It was another fine day for walking and we enjoyed the scenery as we went. Jill and the girls went off to the cultural centre, fitting in a little shopping and buying ice creams.
We had thought of driving back along the Lasseter Highway to get a view of Mt Connor – another dominant landmark of the area. Our early completion of our walk enabled us to drive the 80 kms to the Road House at Curtain Springs for lunch. This is similar to many of the isolated travel stops / fuel stations in the outback but also a little different because of its access to artesian water. It is a bit more like a little green oasis in what is normally a dry and parched environment.
The road house is owned and operated by the the owners of the Curtin Springs cattle station. They sell petrol, diesel, soft drinks, ice creams, food, souvenirs, basic groceries as well as alcohol. From a previous visit, some years ago, I seem to remember a sign above the counter in the shop saying they would not sell alcohol to aborigines. For whatever reason, that sign no longer exists. Perhaps there are are other methods of addressing alcohol addition in the aboriginal population, or maybe it was deemed discriminatory and not appropriate.
The most popular item on the menu were the six, or so, different types of hamburgers – all made from meat grown on the property. Every one contained a slice of beetroot, there was no need to ask for it. There’s nothing better than a thick hamburger where the juice from the beetroot runs down your wrist as you eat it!
The cattle station, on which Mt Connor is situated is over 1 million acres in size and runs 4000 cattle. The owners are very environmentally conscious and the entire station is a wildlife corridor. There is no surface water on the station. Water supplies are pumped to the surface, stored in tanks and provided to animals by way of troughs. In the past, they used to muster the cattle on horseback and helicopter but they have now devised a more ingenious way to manage cattle by controlling access to water. A one-way set of traps in the cattle yards allows the cattle to freely enter the yards to get a drink and holds them there. It’s quite amazing to see the large outcrop of Mt Connor (three times the size of Uluru) on the horizon and know that the property extends well beyond it.
On our way to Curtin Springs, we passed a cow that had been hit by a vehicle. I don’t know what state the vehicle was in, but the cow was very dead, lying on its back, bloated and with its legs in the air. Audrey and Violet missed seeing it on our way out but harped on wanting to see it all the way back until we came across it again. I had no idea a dead cow could be so intriguing!
Heading back to Uluru, we passed a variety of landscapes. I some places, we saw meadows of yellow wildflowers, in others, we could see spinifex and saltbush, but the soil was always orange-red and made a brilliant contrast agains the plants and the sky.
I finished our trip with some more time at the lookout after sunset. I tried some different settings with my camera as I photographed the stars and the milky way, but they weren’t as effective as my previous effort. I learned something but I am relatively happy with this photo of the Southern Cross (low in the sky in the middle of the photo) and the milky way over Uluru.