Ayers Rock – Australia

If all you see in Australia is the Sydney Opera House—and it IS a lovely place—then you’ve missed the great Outback of Australia, epitomized by a huge red rock plopped down in the center of the country. (Aussies spell “center” as “centre.”)  Located a short drive from Alice Springs (also a great place to visit for its history, especially with the U.S. during WWII and camel riding!), this monolith is called Ayers Rock after Sir Henry Ayers, an English leader in Australia at the time.Ayers Rock public domain

History and culture combine to create almost a religious-based mystery around the rock, also called “Uluru.”  Discovered in the 1870s, by explorers seeking water, the rock had—and still has—symbolic meaning for the native people, called the Anangu, and this importance has been recognized by its more recent designation as a National Park.

While checking facts, I noticed that the word “accommodations” appears, which means the “world” is closer to the Rock than it was when I was there.  Then one was free to walk carefully around the rock and into its shadow, even to climb it.  Old etchings can be seen, but they are being seriously protected.  The reason for the change is that the Rock was damaged by foot traffic, eroding the hillside, and the Anangu protested what they considered the possible effects on the Rock.

Can one climb the rock?  Idiots used to do it every day, but that may no longer be true.

"Ayers Rock - Kuniya walk (Rock climbing)". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

“Ayers Rock – Kuniya walk (Rock climbing)”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Today, in response to protests from the indigenous people, there is a law which may have just been passed, to forbid the climbs.  A short way up the rock is a stake (or there was one when I was there) and it’s called “The Chicken Point” with maybe a different name today.  Most climbers got that far, and they’d “chicken-out”….hence the name.  (Truth in relating:  I climbed, but didn’t even reach the Chicken Point!)  Before one makes the effort to go there, check with the latest tourist advisory for the current restrictions.

A cluster of mountains (or high hills) is called the Olgas, and one can take a plane ride around and through them.  Once in a while, one sees the name in a newspaper story, but I haven’t been there, so can’t comment. Travelers I know had a great time flying into the Olgas, but check it out before climbing into the plane.  You’ll love all that Australia offers (except camel rides!) and find an affinity, perhaps unexpected, with our cousins a long air ride away.