50,000 STARS: ULURU TREK

Big Uluru Trek

Outer Edge - - Contents - By Ker­rie Mcmanus & Connie Mangano Pho­to­graphs: Ker­rie Mcmanus & Connie Mangano

Puli Kun­punka (‘sa­cred ground’). Pukulpa anangu pit­janyi. Ny­i­nanyi ngura walt­jangka ‘Proud peo­ple come, livin in a promised land’. Taken from the book Solid Rock – Puli Kun­punka by Shane Howard, Ruby James, Trevor Adam­son and the chil­dren from Mu­titjulu, Kal­tukat­jara and Imanpa (One Day Hill, 2010).

22 Au­gust 2016

Gear check and brief­ing at the Yu­lara camp grounds the af­ter­noon prior to the trek start. In­for­ma­tion pro­vided by Na­tional Parks on sen­si­tive sites on Uluru with re­gards to pho­tog­ra­phy. Any im­ages of Uluru to be pub­lished need to be cleared by Na­tional Parks to re­spect the cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance of spe­cific parts of Uluru. We bought a book while at the Cul­tural Cen­tre called Uluru Sto­ries (Tanami Press) which ex­plains some of the sto­ries and the re­lated sig­nif­i­cance of sites on Uluru and sur­rounds.

Day 1: 18.1 kilo­me­tres (23 Au­gust)

Wel­come to coun­try at Uluru Cul­tural Cen­tre at Mu­titjulu, with Uluru di­rectly be­hind, after pick­ing up the trekkers at var­i­ous ac­com­mo­da­tion lo­ca­tions be­tween the Yu­lara camp grounds and Voy­ages Re­sort.

Trav­elled by bus from Yu­lara to the North­ern Ter­ri­tory – South Aus­tralian bor­der fence. The sign to en­ter the North­ern Ter­ri­tory boldly states in part “no al­co­hol, no pornog­ra­phy”, left over from the in­ter­ven­tion. Lo­cal Elder Un­cle Reg Uluru and other com­mu­nity mem­bers met the trek group for lunch. In­put from the El­ders was cru­cial to the trek’s suc­cess, and fu­ture treks. A heart­felt thank you and tip of the hat to Un­cle Reg and other com­mu­nity mem­bers and we were off. An un­ex­pected storm was clos­ing in. The trekkers set off at 1:10pm with dark storm clouds and wind com­ing up be­hind. Hail hit. Com­mu­nity mem­bers waved and passed by in 4WDS along the red dirt road. They re­called they couldn’t re­mem­ber hav­ing seen hail – and some said they had to re­call if they had a name for ‘hail’. Camp one was at Apa­rina Creek. Sup­port ve­hi­cles stayed with the group while crew went ahead to set up camp and a fire. The fire, crew and tra­di­tional cus­to­di­ans wel­comed trekkers as they ar­rived wet and bedrag­gled at camp. Some had not packed their wet weather gear that day. The forecast had changed sud­denly. Four por­toloos were in place at camp with the ethos of leav­ing no trace. Tents had been erected by the crew. Some were vol­un­teers (from past treks with Big Run) along for the ex­pe­ri­ence – they worked hard and re­mained cheerful for the en­tire week. A chef and cater­ing team pre­pared the night’s meal. A com­mu­nity nurse and GP were also part of the crew. The ca­ma­raderie and com­mit­ment to the trek and Big Run Events was ev­i­dent early on.

El­ders Un­cle Tony and Aun­ties from the nearby com­mu­nity joined the group around the fire where socks and boots dried. Maruku Arts staff sup­ported the artists and el­ders to at­tend over the five days. That night they drove 40 kilo­me­tres home. Staff from Maruku Arts re­turned after the drive and slept in swags by the fire.

Maruku Arts is a col­lec­tive rep­re­sent­ing over 800 artists across the Ter­ri­tory and South Aus­tralia from Ngaany­at­jarra, Pit­jan­t­jat­jara and Yankun­yt­jat­jara lan­guage groups. Started in 1984 by the par­ents of artist Rene (‘Re­nie’) Kulitja, Maruku is a not for profit art cor­po­ra­tion and re­ceives no gov­ern­ment fund­ing. Maruku aims to eth­i­cally rep­re­sent artists and en­sure a liveli­hood for the re­mote com­mu­ni­ties in which they live. As the Maruku web­site ex­plains, the name means “be­long­ing to black”. Maruku is owned and op­er­ated by Anangu (in­dige­nous peo­ple from the West­ern and Cen­tral Deserts of Aus­tralia). Non-in­dige­nous staff as­sist and in­ter­pret as needed. Ob­serv­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween artists and th­ese sup­port staff was part of the story of this ex­pe­ri­ence. This trek is not just about the walk, the per­sonal chal­lenge, the land­scape. It very quickly be­came about the peo­ple.

After din­ner Un­cle Tony started to share tra­di­tional sto­ries. The Aun­ties shared the sto­ries through words and dance by the camp fire. It was a spon­ta­neous shar­ing of cul­ture and an an­cient his­tory. On this oc­ca­sion younger man Cedric danced the emu dance, per­haps his de­but, guided by Un­cle Tony and the Aun­ties. Usu­ally Un­cle Tony dances the emu. The emu has great sig­nif­i­cance in the lo­cal peo­ple’s sto­ries and laws. Sev­eral an­cient sto­ries were told that night in­clud­ing that of the Seven Sis­ters Dream­ing. Look­ing up at the stars you can find the seven sis­ters. The Aun­ties sur­prised us by emerg­ing out of the dark­ness in body paint and gave us an­other sa­cred story through dance. Un­cle Tony bid us farewell and asked that we keep our­selves safe so we could re­turn to our fam­i­lies. One Aun­tie ad­vised that there were camel tracks in the creek and to be wary if up at night. A few of the young men from the com­mu­nity stayed in camp that night and the Aun­tie warned them too (‘the camels don’t know you are here’). Trekkers heard and felt din­gos in camp that night. Those sleep­ing in the open un­der the stars of the Seven Sis­ters kept their swags and selves close to the fire.

Day 2: 30.4 kilo­me­tres (24 Au­gust) – Rene’s coun­try and shar­ing sto­ries

A big day. A big break­fast. 30.4 kilo­me­tre walk from Apa­rina Creek with a lunch stop set up halfway at Kul­pit­jata. The trek fol­lows red dirt roads used by the lo­cal com­mu­nity. In places the road is hard, firm dirt, easy to walk. In other sec­tions sandy and soft. The trail was flat and while a level of fit­ness was re­quired, it also suited those new to treks due to the ab­sence of steep hills to climb to progress. The Mus­grave Ranges run par­al­lel to the bor­der for 210 kilo­me­tres and we viewed th­ese as we walked the track. See www.bigu­lurtrek.com.au for lo­ca­tion de­tails or down­load the map via PDF maps.

The desert has ex­pe­ri­enced ex­cep­tion­ally good rain­fall this sea­son, re­sult­ing in an abun­dance of green­ery and wild­flow­ers. The land­scape changed of­ten, and sur­pris­ingly. Bud­gies, galahs and kites (hawks) were sighted reg­u­larly. Fauna in­cluded: honey gre­vil­lea, desert cas­sia (punty bush), erodium (re­lated to the gera­nium), blue crow­foot flower, small leaf swain­sona, daisies, spinifex and trees such as she oak.

The camp site for day two was a beau­ti­ful set­ting on the fam­ily lands of artist Rene Kulitja. Rene’s fa­ther set up a place for the fam­ily to stay many years ago, and they re­turn reg­u­larly. Clive Scol­lay (Gen­eral Man­ager of Maruku Arts since 2006), staff Natalie and Geral­dine at­tended with artists Rene and Judy, and Char­maine, Rene’s sec­ond youngest daugh­ter. Rene stated she has wanted to share this place with oth­ers, as did her par­ents who first camped near Uluru in the 1980s, and made con­tact with tourists - and planted the seed of set­ting up Maruku Arts.

With­out re­al­is­ing it many are fa­mil­iar with Rene’s work, Yananyi Dream­ing, seen on a QAN­TAS plane which flew for 15 years un­til it was de­com­mis­sioned in 2015. Rene’s fam­ily’s coun­try in­cluded rock art lo­cated in a hill just be­fore the camp and a spring in the hills past the camp, which Clive ex­plained has been ac­cessed, like many places, by wild camels. The pres­ence of the camels in large, un­reg­u­lated num­bers has im­pacted upon na­tive an­i­mals that can’t freely ac­cess the wa­ter. Dur­ing the trek we didn’t sight any kan­ga­roo or emu. We did see tracks reg­u­larly for camels and din­goes. Crew mem­bers en­coun­tered a large herd of over 100 camels when de­liv­er­ing wa­ter to the camps prior to the trek.

Rene and Judy are artists who do dot paint­ing. They also sing joy­fully. The group en­joyed a few songs, and joined in on a song with move­ment which the women taught them – in Pit­jan­t­jat­jara. Rene and Judy be­long to a Pit­jan­t­jat­jara choir. The 33 choir mem­bers went to Italy as part of the Bi­en­nale and dis­played their art.

The artists spent two weeks in Ger­many in a stu­dio with Geral­dine (who is a Ger­man artist work­ing for Maruku Arts) and other artists. Their visit to Europe co­in­cided with the 150th an­niver­sary of the Her­manns­burg mis­sion (near Alice Springs). The choir sang an­cient hymns in the Ger­man cathe­drals in the Pit­jan­t­jat­jara lan­guage. In Aus­tralia the choir re­cently sang with the Soweto choir. Both women have held the role of Chair­per­son of Maruku Arts in re­cent years.

Rene and Clive talked about ‘Tjukurpa’ which while of­ten re­ferred to as ‘the Dream­ing’ is ac­tu­ally the law and sto­ries of the an­ces­tors which guides peo­ple on how to re­late to each other, the land, the birds and the an­i­mals. Through the trek the artists and lo­cal peo­ple have found an­other po­ten­tial av­enue for high­light­ing their cul­ture, lan­guage and re­la­tion­ship with the land – and shar­ing some of this with oth­ers.

David King, a Gun­dun­gurra man from the Blue Moun­tains NSW, worked with Char­maine (Rene’s daugh­ter) to cook their gift of kan­ga­roo tails in the coals of the camp fire. David and the trek team dug out the space for the fire first and then built it up and pre­pared the coals. David lis­tened and re­spect­fully fol­lowed the women’s di­rec­tions and guid­ance. He was ready for ‘next time’. David said he too was find­ing his way in this Coun­try also so new to him. David’s role in the trek was to meet with the artists and tra­di­tional cus­to­di­ans to as­sist in es­tab­lish­ing a work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween them and the Big Uluru Trek or­gan­is­ers – and trek par­tic­i­pants. David worked with the tra­di­tional cus­to­di­ans to en­sure that all the par­tic­i­pants did, re­spected the cul­ture and the land. David’s par­tic­i­pa­tion, open­ness and abil­ity to en­gage oth­ers as­sisted the trek group to have a di­a­logue with the Anangu, and his warm in­vi­ta­tion each night drew peo­ple in. Dur­ing the trek David shared his own jour­ney and in­ter­est in be­ing in­volved in the trek, along with ex­plain­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of par­tic­u­lar cul­tural fac­tors. David’s par­tic­i­pa­tion came via his con­nec­tion to Lu­cas Tri­hey (Trek Di­rec­tor), also from the Blue Moun­tains. David had only ar­rived to Uluru the Satur­day prior to the trek and he started mak­ing con­nec­tions, firstly vis­it­ing Un­cle Reg Uluru, then other com­mu­nity mem­bers and El­ders at Mu­titjulu. Then more com­mu­nity mem­bers and El­ders dur­ing the trek.

An­other part of the night was where Judy pre­pared a lin­i­ment made from a herb (Emu Bush or nar­row leaf fuch­sia bush) tra­di­tion­ally mixed with beeswax (and now sup­ple­mented with olive oil) which is then heated over the fire. Judy ex­plained this lin­i­ment is used for aches, pains and cuts. Judy and Geral­dine pre­pared small glass pots of the balm for the trekkers. Known as Ir­mangka Ir­mangka, it is avail­able com­mer­cially as a bush balm.

Day 3: 25.4 kilo­me­tres (25 Au­gust) Rock Art

The morn­ing started early for some who took Rene’s ad­vice to climb a hill op­po­site the camp where a good view of Uluru off in the dis­tance could be sighted. Rene also gave per­mis­sion for the group to visit caves and a rocky ridge which con­tained rock art, and a small catch­ment of wa­ter.

This was a real gift, a priv­i­lege, and ce­mented again the sig­nif­i­cance of the trek not just be­ing about walk­ing, but it be­ing about a time­less his­tory, peo­ple and re­la­tion­ships. Things don’t hap­pen in a hurry, and the trek had to be fluid and flex­i­ble in terms of the El­ders ad­vis­ing each day what was pos­si­ble with re­gards to ad­di­tional ex­pe­ri­ences the trek group could have, or places they could ac­cess off track.

After pack­ing up the tents and hav­ing an­other good break­fast, the group drove down to see the rock art. Rene had asked that we visit only the caves and not go over the hill to an area which is cer­e­mo­nial. The group was also asked not to post or pub­lish their pho­to­graphs of the rock art on so­cial me­dia, but in­stead to share with their friends and fam­ily. The crew and vol­un­teers also vis­ited the site to share the ex­pe­ri­ence. The area was ac­cessed via a small rise and then opened up to a se­ries of over­hang­ing rocks with shel­tered ar­eas and deeper caves, ac­cessed by crawl­ing into them. Paint­ings were on the walls and ceil­ings. We tried to­gether to in­ter­pret their mean­ing. Howe long have th­ese peo­ple lived here? It felt like for­ever.

Re­turn­ing to the camp site, after sign­ing out, trekkers set off, at their own pace. The trek doesn’t have guides or re­quire that the group stay to­gether. Rather each day trekkers can walk alone, to­gether, or a com­bi­na­tion of both.

A brief­ing is pro­vided the evening be­fore. Sign­ing in and out at key points is im­por­tant. Trek crew act as sweep­ers through­out the day, check­ing that in­di­vid­u­als and groups are manag­ing - and as­sist­ing if needed. A bus is avail­able for those who for what­ever rea­son, choose to shorten their walk on any par­tic­u­lar day. Kim was a friendly and en­ter­tain­ing driver who came to the aid of those with blis­ters re­quir­ing treat­ment from the med­i­cal team con­sist­ing of Nurse Matt (who works in a lo­cal com­mu­nity health cen­tre) and Dr Lau­ren.

I walked alone for at least an hour that day. I kept think­ing ‘I am in the mid­dle of the desert’. I sighted var­i­ous bird, kites, and fas­ci­nat­ing ant mounds, built close to the ground, in the shape of a huge dough­nut, with tiny leaves dusted over the top like hun­dreds and thou­sands on a cake.

Michael Dil­lon (doc­u­men­tary film maker) and his wife Robyn Leeder were part of the trek as pho­tog­ra­phers, pro­duc­ing the book The Big Uluru Trek – An Ad­ven­ture in Aus­tralia’s Spirit Heart. They pro­duced a book on the Burke and Wills Trek in 2015. Michael walked, pho­tograph­ing trekkers and the land­scape, stop­ping to talk, share in­for­ma­tion – and ques­tions.

That night artists Joanne Coo­ley and Glo­ria vis­ited camp. Joanne’s par­ents Billy and Lulu Coo­ley are well known for their wood work or ‘punu’. Billy Coo­ley, the cur­rent Chair of Maruku Arts is fa­mous for the carved wooden snakes with burn­ings marked onto their sur­face. Lulu and Billy make tra­di­tional bowls and scoops (made from river gum roots or mulga), also fea­tur­ing the burnt sym­bols. Glo­ria, Judy and Joanne demon­strated mak­ing mu­sic sticks, and in­vited trekkers to join in. An­other shared meal and a night by the fire fol­lowed.

Day 4: 19.3 kilo­me­tres Uluru and artists (26 Au­gust)

The walk was beau­ti­ful. I walked with a small group and we stopped at var­i­ous points to look at the ant mounds, plants - and sat and talked about our ex­pe­ri­ence. In parts we could see Uluru im­pos­ing in the dis­tance. Ap­proach­ing camp the view of Uluru was stun­ning. We heard the wel­com­ing sound of the gen­er­a­tor be­fore hav­ing a visual of the camp. Our chef and cater­ing team were hard at work pre­par­ing our next din­ner. Three meals per day are pro­vided, in­clud­ing a lunch stop with med­i­cal staff present. Some trekkers chose to pack a lunch and keep go­ing.

That af­ter­noon Joanne Coo­ley and the Maruku Arts staff ar­rived, this time ac­com­pa­nied by Va­lerie Brumby. Joanne brought a bowl made by mother Lulu Coo­ley, made from tree roots. Va­lerie Brumby is an artist and school teacher. Va­lerie led a work­shop on sto­ry­telling and draw­ing – and how to in­ter­pret the now fa­mous in­dige­nous paint­ings so loved and sought after in the art world. Sit­ting on the ground, Va­lerie drew in the sand and had the group guess the sym­bols she was draw­ing. Kan­ga­roo tracks, python (punya), camp­site/fire rep­re­sented by a cir­cle, U for the group.

Va­lerie pro­vided a sym­bol sheet which noted the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for the pro­tec­tion of the sto­ries and laws (Tjukurpa or Jukur­rpa) and the im­part­ing of knowl­edge. We then cre­ated our own paint­ings, telling the story of our trek, us­ing the sym­bols. My at­tempt con­sisted of tjala (ants), iwara (trav­el­ing sign), ngura (camp­site), sun/star (tjintu/kililpi) and heavy rain (kap­ingku puyini). Va­lerie and Maruku Arts ex­plained the pur­pose of shar­ing the sym­bols is so we (non-in­dige­nous) can un­der­stand the art and the sto­ries they are telling - not so we can com­mer­cially pro­duce art us­ing th­ese in­dige­nous sym­bols. Be­ing able to now read and un­der­stand a paint­ing is quite pow­er­ful.

I read about the de­vel­op­ment of the in­dige­nous art move­ment in Aus­tralia, find­ing that “Tali” means ‘sand dunes’ in Pit­jan­t­jat­jara (and is the sym­bol of Maruku Arts). The desert, the land, the coun­try be­ing cared for is ever present in the art and sto­ries shared.

Dot paint­ing evolved from el­ders telling sto­ries and draw­ing in the sand as part of the visual ex­pla­na­tion. Since the 1970s art that was pre­vi­ously done in the sand, on rock, on the body and on cer­e­mo­nial ar­ti­cles is now avail­able to the wider com­mu­nity via paint on can­vas, and wood carv­ing.

The dot­ting (some­times re­ferred to as ‘over dot­ting’) is an adap­ta­tion and pro­tec­tion of the sa­cred knowl­edge of Tjukurpa, used to hide or ob­scure the sym­bols which lay be­neath. Or it can rep­re­sent the land­scape.

Story telling is adapted de­pen­dent upon the au­di­ence. That which is im­parted to ini­ti­ated el­ders is of a much higher and sa­cred level than to the unini­ti­ated.

[An ex­am­ple the public is fa­mil­iar with is the later works of Johnny Warangkula where im­por­tant sto­ries are shrouded by a com­plex dot­ting tech­nique]. We climbed a small hill to watch the sun and colours move across Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Uluru to the right of our camp and stun­ning Kata Tjuta to the left. Va­lerie joined us to watch the colours as we sat and stood to the south of Uluru.

As the sun set dur­ing din­ner, Uluru was our back­drop. We washed up our plates and cut­lery as per the camp pro­to­col. And en­joyed an­other night of sit­ting by the fire and hav­ing a yarn, swap­ping sto­ries, shar­ing where we are from, what we have ex­pe­ri­enced this week.

Day 5: 10 kilo­me­tres (27 Au­gust) Fi­nal walk

Sun­rise – Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Again we walked up the hill to breathe in and ab­sorb the stun­ning scene. Com­ing to this place is a re­minder of how an­cient this land and peo­ple are, and how “Aus­tralia” is so young.

Our last break­fast to­gether. And a gift from the crew – we didn’t have to pack up our tents. The 10 kilo­me­tres from camp cross­ing into the Uluru Kata Tjuta Na­tional Park was a leisurely fi­nal walk. It was dif­fi­cult to be­lieve it was nearly over. It was a time to slow down again.

Al­lie Con­nolly is some­one who loves to walk. And loves to con­verse. We walked with Al­lie that day, slow­ing her down a lit­tle. Which she ad­vised was a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence for her – to ar­rive in the ‘last pack’ to the des­ti­na­tion. Al­lie par­tic­i­pated in Big Run’s Burke and Wills Trek in 2015 and was al­ready booked for her next walk­ing tour two weeks after the Big Uluru Trek. Al­lie had good ad­vice and tips on walk­ing, avoid­ing fa­tigue (and blis­ters) and en­thused by the ben­e­fits of walk­ing. Al­lie has walked the Nullar­bor, with her hus­band in a sup­port ve­hi­cle and her son on a mo­tor­bike.

Other trek par­tic­i­pants in­cluded pro­fes­sional walk­ing tour guides from Tas­ma­nia, and a num­ber of peo­ple who have trekked all over the world, in­clud­ing the Camino in Spain. Caro, a blog­ger, recorded our progress through the trek. Small fam­ily groups or friends were also part of the group.

We ap­proached Uluru, ar­riv­ing from the south. Fi­nally we were at the rock, not­ing the sen­si­tive sites and read­ing of the cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance. Each mark holds a story. The wa­ter hole was full and the next day it rained, and those who were there saw the rain stream­ing down the rock.

Event or­gan­iser Greg Dono­van ar­ranged a spe­cial in­vi­ta­tion from Maruku Arts to visit their ware­house at Mu­titjulu, lo­cated in the old pub in the for­mer camp grounds.

Staff live in the old po­lice quar­ters. We had the op­por­tu­nity to see and pur­chase new art just sourced from re­cent trip. I bought a beau­ti­ful small bowl, some­times used as a scoop tra­di­tion­ally for wa­ter or berries, made by Billy and Lulu Coo­ley.

The trek and the walk with the artists through their coun­try was over. That night the group met again at a cel­e­bra­tion din­ner at the Voy­ages Sails re­sort. Robyn and Michael pro­vided a pre­view of their pho­to­graphs (see de­tails below of the book now avail­able).

Film­maker Daniel pro­vided a mov­ing first edit of a pro­mo­tional short of the trek. We saw our­selves in the film, in the desert. It was both amaz­ing and hum­bling to re­view the ex­pe­ri­ence in vi­su­als.

Michael’s and Robyn’s pho­tog­ra­phy and Daniel’s film cap­tured the spirit of the trek, and its in­ten­tion. The mu­sic and the footage con­veyed the emo­tional as­pect of the trek, and high­lighted the cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance of such an ex­pe­ri­ence. It will be in­ter­est­ing and im­por­tant to hear the re­ac­tion and feed­back from the artists and tra­di­tional cus­to­di­ans, of their ex­pe­ri­ence of the trek.

At the end of the night artist Joanne Coo­ley and Greg Dono­van were still in deep con­ver­sa­tion at Sails.

Hope­fully plan­ning the next Big Uluru Trek. Thank you Big Run, Maruku Arts and the tra­di­tional cus­to­di­ans of the land on which we walked, talked and lived for five un­for­get­table days.

About the Or­gan­is­ers and Crew

Greg and Ray­lene Dono­van are the founders of Big Run Events. Greg is the founder of the Born to Run Foun­da­tion and they in­cor­po­rate fundrais­ing for a cure for type one di­a­betes into many of their events. Straight after the Big Uluru Trek they were off to Birdsville for the an­nual races. Lu­cas Tri­hey is the Trek Di­rec­tor.

Lu­cas com­pleted the first doc­u­mented un­sup­ported trek across the Simp­son Desert in 2006 – walk­ing 400 kilo­me­tres over 17 days car­ry­ing all his own sup­plies. Lu­cas is skilled in moun­taineer­ing, lead­ing ex­pe­di­tions, course map­ping, lo­gis­tics along with safety and risk man­age­ment. From 200208 Lu­cas pub­lished and edited Out­door Aus­tralia, Ad­ven­ture Gear Guide and Ad­ven­ture Jour­nal.

Big Red Events also runs

• AN­ZAC Day Chal­lenge • Big Red Run – Birdsville (250 kilo­me­tres) • Birdsville Big Red Bash • Syd­ney Trail Se­ries • Burke and Wills in 2015 (330 kilo­me­tres x 11 days) Fol­low Big Run Events on Face­book and web­sites www.bi­grun­events.com.au and www.bigu­lu­rutrek.com.au

Trek Book

Robyn Leeder and Michael Dil­lon: The Big Uluru Trek – An Ad­ven­ture in Aus­tralia’s Spirit Heart. See blurb web­site to or­der for $110 (Aus­tralian dol­lars).

Tips

Trek starts on the Tues­day. Ar­rive Sun­day or ear­lier in or­der to walk at Kata Tjuta (‘the Ol­gas’) and do the com­pul­sory trek gear check on Mon­day. Ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions in­clude the Voy­ages Re­sort. Crew stayed at the camp­ing grounds. In­vest in a good qual­ity sleep­ing bag as tem­per­a­tures at night/early morn­ing in the desert can drop to zero or lower in July-au­gust-septem­ber. Cost: $2,975

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