"It’s Just a Big Rock. It Doesn’t Even Move."


Uluru 282 We spent two days at Uluru, formerly known as Ayer’s Rock, in the middle of nowhere in Australia.  We flew from Adelaide to Alice Springs to Uluru, and — honestly — I’ve never seen so much dessert.  But we arrived at this national landmark for Australia, not entirely sure what we would be seeing.  Our skepticism was best summarized by Sterling, who said, “It’s just a big rock.  It doesn’t even move.”

Uluru 372 Well, Uluru, and neighboring Kata Tjuta are two geological freaks of nature — large protruding rock formations in an otherwise flat and desolate dessert.  They were, apparently, formed by run-off from long-gone high mountains, which gathered in a lake bed and was gradually submerged 4 kilometers below the earth’s surface, metamorphosized, contorted, and popped back up hundreds of thousands of years ago.  While the above left picture stinks (it was taken from the window of our plane), it shows how Uluru rises up from the desolate plains of central Australia to form a most amazing formation.

Uluru 286 Well, we were warned that Uluru can be a bit “touristy,” but imagine our surprise when we went there to watch a sunrise.  At 6:00 a.m., we were surrounded by tourist buses :-( .  Well, we beat a path out of there faster than you can say “Cheese” to a 45 person touring group!  We proceeded way past the crowds to a spot on the north side of Uluru, and took an incredible hike along Uluru’s base at sunrise.  Uluru 299

One of the unusual things about Uluru is its ties to the Aborigines of Australia.  Some thirty years ago, the lands were partially returned to the control of the Aborigines (specifically, the local Anangu tribe), for whom it is sacred.  While you can hike around it, there are areas where you can’t go, formations you can’t photograph, and parts of it history and meaning that no non-Anangu ever hears about. 

Uluru 266

The sister rock formation, Kata Tjuta, was also quite impressive.  The geological history is related to Uluru, but differs in that it consists of a set of huge (and I mean HUGE)  rocks, while Uluru is monolithic.  Either in its own right is magnificent, but together they’re worth the sizable detour to take them in.  The one regret I had is that we didn’t do more hiking around these areas.  The challenge is that much of it is off-limits, and so the Uluru area is more of a “watching” than “hiking” place.  But the magical beauty of these “rocks,” together with the special feeling of a sunrise hike, made this experience unforgettable.

Uluru 357

While at Uluru, we went to their Predator Center.  Sterling, always quick to make friends, got on quite well with a Stinson’s Python (right).  Since she can’t have a wombat or echidna as a pet, the python looks awfully tempting.  And the naturalist explained that they can go months without food, making them ideal for families that travel.  Fabulous news!  I’m sure she’ll put this on her Christmas list, but her parents and brother might just exercise some “veto” power on this future pet!

5 Responses to “"It’s Just a Big Rock. It Doesn’t Even Move."”

  1. Susan Leadem Says:

    Ted, I’m having so much fun following your travels. Everything sounds great except lugging the bags from place to place! Hello to everyone. The crossing guards were looking for you and were sad to hear that you left. susan

  2. eric hazard Says:

    ok now you guys are in trouble giving my niece a snake Rory is going to want one too.

  3. Jack Sabanosh Says:


    I can’t thank you enough for sharing your experiences on your trek. It’s so generous of your and Elizabeth to take the time to log your travels and observations. Deniz and I have been following you and your family’s explorations in awe. She is actually incredibly envious. I think she angling for a similar trip – sans les enfants.

    As I read of your Australian travelogue I can’t resist the urge (though I should) to offer an unsolicited reading suggestion for your kids – as if they have the time! But, if they do, “Mutant Message from Down Under” was a book my son and I read a few years ago (he was 12 or so at the time and we both loved it). In short, it relates the travels (true) of a US doctor who visited Australia and was apparently recruited/abducted to tell the “message” of the Aborigines. Though not a children’s book it is very readable and includes her experiences of traveling through the outback on foot for weeks – including developing 1/2 inch callouses on her feet – while their message is imparted to her. Not exactly WSJ and sorta kinda New Agey, it might be fun for them to read on a flight.

    Also, if you need any suggestions on what to do/see/avoid in Istanbul, give me a buzz. Just got back from spending a few weeks there.

    Take care,

  4. catherine Says:

    so far the most memorable quote . . . It’s Just a Big Rock. It Doesn’t Even Move.” could be perfect for so many things . . . title of a geology book . . . title for a speilberg film . . . a perfect comback for the 15 ct diamond someone insisted i comment on . . . where are the perfect quotes when you need them???

  5. Branch Whitney Says:

    Wow! The one photo looks like the rock is sandstone. We have some of the best sandstone for scrambling just 20 miles west of Las Vegas, NV.

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