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Home > Travelogues > 2008 Travelogues Index > Mt Conner to Uluru
Central Australia 2008.  We visit three big rocks in Central Australia; starting with the pastel pink mesa  Atila (Mount Conner), then the distinctive dome of Uluru (Ayres Rock) and finally the many heads of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas).

We visited the trio of Atila (Mount Conner), Uluru (Ayres Rock) and the many heads of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas).  These outcrops are all impressive as they rise from the plains, and although their shapes and type of sandstone are very different, they are part of the same ancient structure, being formed by deposits in an ancient ocean around 600 million years ago.   Being sandstone, the light refection shows as different colours at different times of the day and in different weather conditions.  Colours are more intense at sunrise and sunset. 

Coming from Kings Canyon and Kathleen Gorge, we joined the Lasseter Highway and headed west.  For the first time since leavingWestern Australia we saw salt pans. 

This salt pan can be seen from near the parking area for viewing Mount Conner.  Walking across the busy road we climbed through loose red sand for a better view of the Mount Conner and the salt lake. 

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Many tourists come to see Uluru on tour coaches and most are taken on one short walk only, seeing so little of the Rock they have come so far to see.  There is a loop road around Uluru with several parking areas, including one suitable for sunrise viewing. The sunset viewing area is along the access road in to Uluru. 

A walk also circumnavigates the rock, in some places close and in others taking a wide arc away from the perimeter due to cultural sensitivity of the area.   Aboriginal rock paintings can be seen in several locations. 

Uluru peaks at 863 metres above sea level, and 348 metres above the surrounding plains.  Unlike many sandstone outcrops, the rock is a fine and hard texture, with the firmly fused strata tilted often perpendicular.  It is an irregular shape with eroded pockets and caves.

This salt pan can be seen from near the parking area for viewing Mount Conner.  Walking across the busy road we climbed through loose red sand for a better view of the Mount Conner and the salt lake. 

Mount Conner (Atila) is a large Mesa peaking at 859 metres above sea level and rising 343 metres above the surrounding plains. This is a similar height to Uluru, and the mesa area is said to be three times the area of Uluru. The Curtin Springs story

 

 

Mount Conner usually appears pink or lilac in the distance which contrasts to the orange tones or Uluru.   The mesa is on Curtin Springs Station and can only be accessed by tours run from the station.  We drove a little way down the Mulga Park Road to obtain a better view of the mesa. 

People coming down were sliding or ‘crab walking’ on their bottoms.  At this point, even before the steep and slippery access to the chain, a group of Japanese girls were slipping over as they tried to take a step, and laughing joyously.   

We walked around the rock in a clockwise direction, the first section including the Mala walk to a rock painting gallery.  Most of the tour coach passengers were only taken this far and we met only a few other people on the rest of the walk.

The first part of the climb is made safer by a chain, but there is a short distance from where the climbing is easy to the start of the chain. 

When we arrived at Yulara, the town built to service tourism to Uluru, the wind was fierce and it was very dusty.  As the weather worsened, we decided that it was not a good day to go sight seeing.  Yulara was built between 1982 and 1984 and by the end of 1984 all accommodation at “The Rock” in the national park was removed. 

There are viewing areas within the Ayres Rock campground at Yulara.   Shadows of the fast moving clouds danced across the rock, giving it a lilac hue. 

Next morning in fine weather we drove eighty kilometres to the Rock.  Entrance to the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park is $25 per person and valid or three days.  After reading the information asking people not to climb, both for cultural and safety reasons, we chose the walk around instead, after taking a short walk on the shallow spur of rock where the climb starts.  

A dragon lizard posed for us as he soaked up the morning sunshine. 

Like a giant mouth, cracks and erosion have created features such as this on, seen on the southern side.

The north side has patches of honeycomb erosion. 

Caves and waves along the Mala walk.

Natural wood chairs are placed at intervals around the walk.

As we walked we looked back to ‘the chain’, now in full sunlight and with people heading up like an ant trail. 

The path up the rock can be seen following the ridge in the centre of the picture below.

The path up the rock can be seen following the ridge in the centre of the picture below.

The walk is closed if the day is too hot, the wind to strong, rain is forecast, cloud covers top of the rock and it is closed from sunset to sunrise.  It is closed after 8 am during December, January and February and on any day forecast to reach 36°C. These are for the safety of climbers.  It is also closed at times of cultural significance or if a rescue is taking place.

 

 

Small pools such as this one hold water for most of the year. 

Aboriginal rock paintings found underneath one of the overhangs. 

Having completed the 9.4 kilometre loop walk, we returned to the car park near the start of the climb.  With the day warming up, there was no longer the ant trail of climbers along the chain with only a few climbers heading up or down.

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Clouds were moving quickly in a windy sky over Mount Conner by morning.

We watched the sun set on Mount Conner.  Explorer William Gosse named the mount in 1873 after M.L. Conner, a South Australian politician. Both spellings of Conner and Connor can be seen on brochures and maps.

 

Almost 100 kilometres west of Mount Conner is Uluru.  Named Ayres Rock in 1873 by William Gosse after the Premier of South Australia Sir Henry Ayres, ‘The Rock’ is one place the tourists flock to see.  The National Park Park now known as Uluru-Kata Tjuta was created in 1958.

Mount Conner 

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After visiting the Cultural Centre we left, with the afternoon sun lighting up the west side.