Saturday, April 19, 2014

an adventure Down Under (part 5)

Our afternoon/sunset tour took us west towards Kata Tjuta, or the Olgas as it’s often called in English. Where Uluru is formed from one sandstone monolith (it’s conjectured that only 30% of it is above ground the rest lies below like an iceberg), Kata Tjuta is composed of at least 36 sedimentary conglomerate domes. They look similar from a distance but up close are very different. We were able to see them from a lookout point and then hike to a waterhole settled between two of the domes. They are pretty spectacular in their own right but because there isn’t the same level of sacred mystery as there is for Uluru they often get overlooked. (Clarification: the aboriginal people have similar myths, legends and respect for Kata Tjuta but it hasn’t struck the same chord for some reason.)

After our hike we drove to a lookout point and stopped for ‘nibbles’ (Australian for fruit, crackers and cheese!) The sunset behind us was wasn’t nearly as spectacular as the sunrise we’d seen earlier but the changing light created even more patterns and colors on the face of Uluru stretched out in front of us. I realize it’s just a rock, but in the same way that the Mona Lisa is just a portrait. There’s just something about it that inexplicably grabs you and pulls you completely into its orbit, making you a part of that world that’s just a step outside the real world that we inhabit every day. There’s no rational explanation for it, you have to experience it for yourself. And I highly encourage you to do so!

We were back to the hotel by the time it was dark and spent some time eating ice cream and re-packing for the millionth time. As night fell the stars came out in infinite numbers, which was good because we had booked ourselves one last tour for the day, a lecture with the resident astronomer. The light pollution there was minimal and with not even a tree to block our view we had a fabulous expanse of black sky at our disposal. He pointed out stars only visible in the southern hemisphere, shared a few of the myths about the constellations and then the rest of the time was spent looking through high powered telescopes at faraway stars, clusters and galaxies. We literally saw millions of stars that night, over 3000 of them with the naked eye. There were stars that twinkled and glowed different colors and some so bright they were almost blinding. And then there was the absolute peace and quiet of the area itself. It made me feel humbled at the vastness of the universe and God’s creations and awed that I could be a part of something so immense and complex. What an amazing day!

The Olgas/Kata Tjuta

Ayers Rock/Uluru

1 comment:

  1. Love reading these trip reports from Australia! Sounds like you had an amazing time and packed a lot into a short period. I am longing to go someplace where you can see thousands of stars like you describe here. What a magical place!