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Zubbie15

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Zubbie15

Valley of the Winds walk.



Once we’d finished our breakfast, we made the short drive to the parking lot near Kata Tjuta. While there certainly were some people around, it was nice and quiet for the hike. The components of Kata Tjuta are found in two clusters – one is reserved for Aboriginal use, while the other is where the hike passes through. This allows a nice, close-up view of the various geological features.



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There was also some wildlife, with our only close view of a macropod (I think it's a Red Kangaroo) in the area.



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The initial walk is over some rougher terrain, although nothing horrible, with a bit of scrambling up and over rocks. As we got in amongst the rocks, we could appreciate their size.



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The second half of the walk was more sedate, with a dedicated trail along the middle and back of the section open to tourists.



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There were also a couple of areas to stop and rest, including with water available. In one location, the water pipes were leaking, which attracted some attractive Zebra Finches.



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We continued along, and by mid-morning (about 2.5 hours of hiking) we were back at the car.



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We then headed back to Yulara, took our showers, had a bite to eat in the village, and got a head start on preparing our luggage for our flight the next day.


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Zubbie15

Afternoon around Uluru



Originally when I had planned this day, one of the options was to remain in the park all day, doing the base walk (~9km on flat land) around Uluru. However, my wife felt that was too much, so instead we headed back to the park mid-afternoon to do a couple of the shorter walks that are available. We started at the Kuniya walk, which is a fairly short stroll to one of the permanent waterholes in the area.



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It has a reputation as a fairly good area for wildlife, but there were several groups of people in the area and it was still toward the middle of the day, so we didn’t see much. It was, similar to during the morning, quite interesting to see the details in the rock face compared to how it looks from afar.



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From there, we headed to the Mala walk, which heads along a part of the face of the monolith. This was exposed to the sun, and so quite a bit hotter than the previous walk. It was interesting to see, however, as there were some ceremonial areas that could be observed. There were also areas that were off-limits to photography, due to cultural considerations, and I was happy to see that no one seemed to be flaunting the rules.



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The walk ended in a little forested area, which also had a waterhole (need to find pictures), before we retraced our steps back to our car.



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From there, we decided to go to the sunset viewing area to stake out an area we liked. The sunset viewing is divided in two areas, where people with their own cars are somewhat closer and those on bus tours are further away (but I think with a higher vantage point). We were one of the first cars in the area, and did a couple of slow passes along to try to see where we liked the look. It was a little challenging; while I don’t know what the “normal” situation is like, at this point at least the bushes were fairly high, so a lot of the views seemed partially obstructed. In any case, we set up the tripod where we liked, took a couple of test shots, and then left it there and returned to our car (about 10 feet back).



One of the highlights in the area is watching the colors change on the rock as the sun sets, and we were able to view this quite well from our position. I ended up compiling several of the photos to show the changes in the color over time.



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Once the sun had set, and the lack of clouds indicated that there probably wouldn’t be any color after sunset, we headed back to Yulara, and relaxed for the evening.


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Alexander33

Continuing to enjoy this very much. Thank you! Australia is on my list. Some day......

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Me too, me too, ... enjoying the report and wanting to return!

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@@Zubbie15

 

Thank you for your wonderful trip report. Your photos are beautiful and bring back a lot of memories. I´ve been to Australia eight times between 1988 and 2007 ............. and now, I want to return !

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Zubbie15

Thanks @@Alexander33, @@xelas and @@AndMic... just a few installments left to go.



Last morning in the Red Centre


Because the previous morning we didn’t get to the gate prior to opening, today we set the alarm for 10 minutes earlier, and therefore ended up being the third car in line at the gate. While we were waiting we discussed our plan, and decided to head back to the sunset viewing area that morning. The conditions were similar to the previous evening (i.e. no clouds) so we figured the pictures would be similar to what we already had. One thing about the sunset viewing was that it definitely wasn’t peaceful, as there were people all along the barrier, so we thought being in the same area at sunrise would offer some peace. We were right – there were only two other cars there that morning, so it was much more peaceful, apart from the occasional carload of people who had slept in and were rushing past our spot to get to the sunrise viewing area.



It’s hard at Uluru to do night photography, since they tightly control the opening hours, but the previous day I had noticed that the moon, illuminated about 25%, was giving off enough reflected light to partially bring out the color of Uluru without blowing out the stars. So I wanted to attempt this photo, with some light on the eastern horizon, many stars in the sky, but a little illumination on the rock face. I think I was reasonably successful, although I think better Photoshop skills on my part would accentuate the stars a little better.



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As the sun broke the horizon, we simply enjoyed the peace and quiet, knowing that that afternoon we were heading to Sydney and then a few days later back home, where the hectic pace of modern life would catch up to us.



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Once the sun was well above the horizon, we headed back to the hotel, packed up, and made our way to the airport for the trip to Sydney.


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Alexander33

Oh, I know about the crowds for those photo ops. One thing that proved successful for us when we were in Cambodia was attaching the camera to a monopod, putting it on a 30 second self-timer and lifting it above everyone's heads.

 

That last sunrise photo is just great. So evocative.

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Atravelynn

The point and shoot you rented worked really well. Beautiful underwater shots of fish and coral. Your compilation of setting sun shots is a great idea.

 

The Rainbow Lorikeet is indeed rainbow colored and your other bird shots near the water are outstanding. You even got some more good fish shots, in the bird beaks. That pyromaniac bird behavior is amazing, which goes beyond tool use to problem solving.

 

Up to #67--stunning sunsets.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Hi @@Zubbie15 , just getting back to your report. In case no one else has told you the fairy-wren in post #84 is a corker male Variegated Fairy-wren (not a Superb Fairy-wren).

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Some excellent scenic shots.

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Zubbie15

Thanks for the correction @@Geoff, sorry all for the misidentification.

 

Thanks @@Alexander33, it was a great way to end our time in the Red Centre. We definitely saw people near us using the "monopod above the head" trick, the only challenge being it's hard to compose the shot.

 

Thanks @@Atravelynn for the kind comments.

 

Arrival in Sydney and the end of our trip

After sunrise, we finished up in Uluru and then got on a plane to Sydney. This was a big change, as Sydney was cooler (although as a Canadian I can’t say cold, I’d love winter to be that warm) and rainy. In fact, apparently that week during which we were there was the rainiest the city had had in thirty years, which limited us a bit. We did the standard tourist things, visiting the Opera house (and seeing a show), taking a ferry, going to a couple of the museums, and generally just wandering about. I enjoyed the city, but definitely didn’t find it as unique as the rest of the areas we visited. I won’t spend much time on the city, just share a few photos from that part of our trip.

Typical Sydney weather while we were there

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The clouds would clear briefly most days.

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We had one night with a nice sunset - I tired to take a slightly different picture of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House (probably taken only tens of thousans of times, rather than millions of times).

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The next day, again we had one short clearing of the clouds - this photo was taken about ten minutes after a downpour that reduced visibility to maybe ten meters.

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This photo, in the botanical gardens, pretty much sums up my memories of Sydney.

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I really enjoyed Sydney, but it definitely was a bit of a change after the almost three weeks we spent in the quieter parts of the country.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed our time in Australia, it’s definitely not the wildlife destination that you get in Africa or India, but the variety of landscapes and uniqueness of the wildlife are really enjoyable. The people were very friendly, and it was easy to design and book a trip from the other side of the world. I’m hoping to go back soon to explore other areas (particularly Tasmania), perhaps even in 2017 since my wife didn’t like my plan of going to India. Thanks everyone who read this, I hope it was enjoyable and perhaps informative. Now I need to focus on my return to Africa (we leave 8 weeks from today!!!).

Edited by Zubbie15
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@@Zubbie15, this certainly was both enjoyable and informative. An excellent report. Thanks so much for all the details and fantastic photos!

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Atravelynn

Well I'll be dingoed, you saw one. Wow! So many great scenery shots.

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Alexander33

Great report. Thanks for sharing your experience.

 

8 weeks is nothing! Forgive me if you previously mentioned it and it just slipped my mind, but where in Africa are you next headed?

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@@Zubbie15

 

The sunrise shots are equally fantastic as the sunset ones are! I do share your sentiment about a returning trip to Australia ... it is already 15 years now ... really time to visit this continent again.

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