Australia Day Fourteen: Sunrise In The Outback And A Hike To Kata Tjuta. And Then The Stars.

Australia Day Fourteen: Sunrise In The Outback And A Hike To Kata Tjuta. And Then The Stars.

Kata Tjuta hike -9
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I slept well my first night in the Australian outback and woke up refreshed well before dawn the next morning. I had booked a tour to the other attraction at this United Nations World Heritage site, Kata Tjuta, which left a 5:15 a.m. I got up earlier to take a look at the morning sky and I was rewarded with a spectacular Kata Tjuta twilight -1view of the Milky Way. It just hung like a curtain in the southern sky. I could not even imagine how much a part of the lives it was of all of our ancestors, before fire, candles,  electricity and  electric lights took away the night sky. The sky is  clear here and the resort helps keeping the sky dark by  using minimal lighting and shielding the sky from the brighter lights with tents. I sure appreciated the effort.

I joined our small tour, ran by Seit tours, the same one I had joined the night before, and we were off in the morning twilight to watch the sunrise near Kata Tjuta. We arrived at the viewing area and waited for the sun to appear near the massive silhouette of Uluru. The stars were now fading but Venus still sparkled in the morning twilight. Here is a link to some more photographs of the morning twilight. Tjuta twilight -6

The stillness of the cool  desert sky in the morning was so calming. As the sky brightened with the approaching sun we now saw the large domed rock of Kata Tjuta appear to the west.Kata Tjuta sunrise -17

The sun rose near Uluru and it’s first rays immediately began to play on the rock face of Kata Tjuta, causing many different shades to appear as we watched. Photographs just can not do justice to this awesome experience. Here is a link to some more photographs of this wonderful sunrise Tjuta sunrise -25

After the sun was up, we proceeded to a rest stop and had some coffee, a light breakfast and a pleasant conservation with our small group and our guide Janice. We then drove to Kata Tjuta and hiked into  one of its gorges. Kata Tjuta sunrise -33

We stopped and were given history on the geology of this massive rock formation and also learned some of the long history of the Anangu people who have lived in this region for over 30,000 years. This site, like Uluru, is sacred  to these people.Kata Tjuta hike -8

It was a nice hike into the gorge and we learned so much about the flora, fauna and geology of the area as well as more history of the aborigine culture. It was sunny and hot but a strong wind kept us cool. We hiked up deep into the gorge, and where it ended, we ran into a small stream, with fresh water and a large population of tadpoles.!  We took a slow walk back to our bus and returned to our hotels, having made some new friends, learned so much about this World Heritage site and experienced first hand it’s unspoiled beauty. Here is a link to some more photographs of our hike at Kata Tjuta. Tjuta hike -9

After an early lunch I decided to attend a demonstration sponsored by the resort, and hosted by a local aborigine on the hunting weapons and skills of the native aborigine people. It was very informative and we learned so much on how these people were able to survive in the harsh, dry, hot conditions of central Australia. Here is a link to some more photos of this demonstration Gardens aborigine hunting talk -3

After the program, I decided to brave the heat of the midday Australian sun, the temperature was near 100 degrees, and there are very few activities going on this time of the day. I decided to take my macro lens out for a hike around the resort grounds and see what I could see.  I was hoping for some exotic like a snake or lizard but hat to settle for ants, spiders and birds. but it was still a very interesting walk. -Desert gardens macro-4

In addition to the many species ants. there were actually more flowers in bloom than I first thought. And they were so different than the flowers I am used to in the temperate climate of Pennsylvania. -Desert gardens macro-19

And where there are flowers there are insects. It was no different here. I saw at least five different species of butterflies fluttering around and was able to get a photograph of a few of them. There were also some bees and wasp but they were a little to quick for me to photograph .-Desert gardens macro-14

I walked for about a mile but the heat, and my lack of sleep, made me decide to head inside. On the way I found this spider near my hotel room. Here is a link to some more photographs of my afternoon hike. gardens macro-25

I tried to nap, but instead did some laundry and edited some photographs and had dinner. And waited for the sunset. I scheduled a stargazing event and was looking forward to it. We met in the town square about an hour after sunset just myself, a young couple from England and their young son and infant, and our two guides from Outback Sky Journeys . What a wonderful evening. Unfortunately, the almost full moon prevented us from seeing the night sky at it’s best but we were still able to see and learn so much. I now know where the Southern Cross  is located and how to find it.  One ot the “pointer” stars is our closest neighbors, alpha centauri. I have wanted to see this stars since my days of watching “Lost in Space”  We then were treated to this clear night sky through a  9 1/2 inch telescope.  It was amazing. We looked at double stars, star clusters, galaxies, planets nebulae and the moon. I must again thank Dave Bateman, from Outback Sky Journeys  for this truly wonderful opportunity to  explore the beautiful night sky of central Australia.  And so ended another great day down under, they just seemed to keep getting better.Kata Tjuta hike -35


 “Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth.”