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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Uluru, Northern Territory

There is only one place to stay at Uluru - the Ayres Rock Resort and it's got everying , it's like a small town. Accommodation ranges from budget rooms and dormitories, through to first class suites at Sails Desert Hotel. There is also a caravan park, 2 pubs, 9 restaurants and a shopping centre.

It costs $25 each to enter the park and the ticket is valid for 3 days. As we were lining up to pay to enter the park, a man in the hire car in front of us was very abusive to the young woman in the booth, he was furious and said that he'd driven half way around Australia to get here and no one told him it cost $25 to get in.

There was an interesting demonstration at the Centre when we arrived, an Aboriginal man and woman gave talks and demonstrations through an interpreter - the man talked about how they made hunting weapons and the woman about bush tucker.

Uluru draws about 350,000 visitors a year but figures are down this year by about half. The traditional owners of Uluru have not closed the climb but there are signs everywhere asking visitors to respect their sacred site by not climbing it.

This makes little difference because thousands of tourists climb it every year and quite a few over-enthusiastic older folk have died trying. It was a condition when the Aboriginal people took possession of the land in 1985 that it would remain open for tourists to climb.

The climb
Some visitors from overseas have their hearts set on the climb and often don't know about the Aboriginal request until they get here which leaves them a bit confused.

We got one of the last parking spots at the sunset viewing area

Aboriginal rock art

A proposal has been put forward to ban climbing permanently. The National Parks Service, who jointly manage the site with the traditional owners, has released a draft 10-year management plan on the environmental impact of climbers on the rock.

The draft will be open for public comment for two months before it's revised and presented to parliament later this year for final approval. Prime Minister Rudd has already expressed a personal view that visitors should be allowed to climb the famous rock.

I saw my first dingo in the wild today but still haven't seen a camel.

Uluru - magnificent, awesome, unforgettable

Pip, our French Bulldog has travelled 29,000 since leaving home in Sydney on 3rd December, 2008

Last year people were returning little bits of Uluru they had taken home as a souvenir, at one stage the Centre was receiving one a day. They believed the bad luck they were experiencing after returning home from Uluru was due to the theft. One package contained a 3 kilo chunk of rock and another piece was 2 kilos.