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Home > Travelogues > 2008 Travelogues Index > Kata Tjuta

Mount Olga, the highest peak in the group, was named in 1872 by Ernest Giles, in honour of Queen Olga of Württemberg at the request of his benefactor Baron Ferdinand von Mueller.  Queen Olga and her husband King Karl had marked their 25th wedding anniversary the previous year by, amongst other things, appointing Ferdinand von Mueller a Baron, and this was his way of repaying the compliment. The highest peak and the surrounding domes became known as The Olgas. 

Climbing through a narrow pass between the domes, a vista of the centre of the range and east side domes opened up before us. 

The following morning we left early to see Kata Tjuta.  We had oringally planned to visit Kata Tjuta while travelling west and on our way back to Western Australia, but decided to take a day trip leaving the caravan at Yulara to enable an early start, and to allow for a full day’s travelling through the Great Central Road the following day.  Wind levels had already closed the Uluru climb.  It was a day to experience The Valley of the Winds Walk live up to its name.  The Valley of the Winds walk too can be closed in adverse weather conditions and is closed at night for safety reasons.  If the temperature is above 36º the walk will be closed beyond the first lookout.   This walk is more interesting than the walk around Uluru due to the very different structure and size of Kata Tjuta. 

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Depending on which way the light catches the sandstone surfaces, colours vary from purple to orange. 

Vegetation is quite fresh and green in some of the valleys and shrubs cling to some of the domes. 

The 7.4 kilometre walk weaves through the larger domes, with two climbs which include steps, before coming to an area where most domes are lower and more spread out.  The trail then loops back to join the first section.   

The many headed rock now known by their original name of Kata Tjuta consists of 36 domes spread over an area of 3,500 hectares with Mount Olga the highest at 1,066 metres above sea level and rising 546 metres above the plains, and has been dated at 500 million years old. 

The sandstone here is much coarser than that which forms Uluru, consisting of conglomerate as can be seen in this fragment and alongside the path on our climb through the domes.

Although very dry at the time, stains remain from when rain cascades down this series of eroded holes.

Small pools along the creek line between pockets of vegetation containing rare vegetation. 

A small cave is visible in the side of a dome.

Looking out of the valley from the viewing platform at the end of the walk trail

With the steep walls, on side of the narrow valley appears to be always in shadow, as reflected in one of the small pools in the gully.

Once inside the valley, the sun shone on one side which glowed orange, whereas the other side appeared purple.   

After the third night in the noisy Yulara camp ground, we were keen to enjoy some quiet solitary camping, and looked forward to heading out on the Great Central Road into Western Australia.  Passing the bread loaf like domes of Kata Tjuta, we left the Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park and the sealed road to head westward.    

The 2.6 kilometre Walpa Gorge Walk is an easy walk into a narrow valley, also known for high winds between the steep walls, with walpa meaning windy.  It is a partially shaded moisture rich gully, with pools of water and flowering vegetation.  This tiny eco-system within a desert is also home to rare and obscure species of flora and a refuge for native fauna.  Walpa Gorge is in the gap between the domes in the centre of this photo. 

Looking to the end of the gorge which is filled with greenery
There were areas on woodland on the floor in the centre of the domes
Looking north west across much flatter rocky outcrops as we leave Kata Tjuta.
Central Australia 2008.  We visit Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), forty kilometres from Uluru and within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
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