Midday over the ‘Rock’
My visit to Uluru was something I had dreamt of for a long time. I had even dropped hints to Trev about proposing to me on top of Australia’s most well-known monolith. He decided to choose the back of our property in knee-high tea tree.. hmm, sort of the same.. not! Anyway, we had the wedding, had started to settle into married bliss when I took it upon myself to lay down the law. No babies till I see Uluru! Well, I’m not sure if that was the trick or whether Trev just wanted to finally shut me up, but we eventually made it to see Uluru.
When I first arrived before sunrise you could ‘feel’ the energy of the place. I know that might sound a bit new-agey, but it’s the truth, for me anyway. I felt like I was entering a very special, sacred place. Watching the sun rise above the rock was something so spectacular. Even with all the people around snapping selfies it was easy for me to see how the local Aboriginal people (the Anangu) have such a connection to this land and why it is of such immense significance to their culture.
Feet firmly on the ground
The thing about Uluru that completely took my breath away was its size. It’s not just big, it’s bloody huge! You know the pics you see of Uluru on google? Well they are usually taken from the shorter sides, not front on. When we later visited the Olgas that day, we could still see Uluru in the distance for quite a while due to its sheer height. Aside from being frowned upon for cultural reasons, climbing Uluru isn’t such a great choice because you’ll probably end up dead! I couldn’t believe how steep it was and with only a single chain line running down the side, anyone who wasn’t fortunate enough to get a grip of that chain was forced to put their complete trust and luck in their shoes gripping the surface. No thanks. I’ll walk around the base, it will be relaxing and at a pace where I can take in the amazing scenery. Well it would have been, if I had used my brain a bit.
I value my life too much to climb ‘The Rock’.
Do as i say, not as i do.
So the day was an absolute stinker. We had just come from doing a hike around The Olgas (Kata Tjuta) and it was still around 3pm. I was starting to feel like I could do with a toilet break but as I couldn’t see one at the starting point and everyone was really keen to get moving, I figured ‘she’ll be right’, I’m the master of holding on. It’s only about 10kms, surely they would have toilets every now and again around the track. This right here was where someone should have slapped some sense into me and made me find a toilet. But no, off we set with my Dad taking off ahead of us.
Looking at Uluru from different positions and angles really gives you a grasp of how beautiful it really is. Each section has its own unique form and erosion patterns. You need to be constantly mindful when photographing as certain areas of the rock are deemed sacred sites and therefore photography is banned.
I continued along in the hot sun trying to find a balance between taking sips of my staminade drink while all the while knowing my bladder was starting to get quite uncomfortable. I started trying to think of other things to take my mind off my situation, chatting to Trev, focusing on the trees and Uluru. None of it worked. Everything I thought of brought me back to desperately needing to pee.
Seeing is not believing
After an hour or so the cramps started to kick in, my belly was popping out and I resembled someone in the early stages of pregnancy and my walking speed increased to a power walk. Where was that toilet!!! Then I saw it, in the distance like a beautiful mirage… a tin eco looking structure just off the track, you beauty! It’s a dunny. Oh god, I was so excited. I quite literally could have peed myself. I almost ran towards it. People were gathered around and my mind was running with ways I could push in front. I was desperate. I begged Trev to keep up. Then all of a sudden my heart sank. It wasn’t a toilet, it was an info stop and water top up station. DAMN IT!
Oh the devastation at realising this building wasn’t a toilet.
As if being slapped in the face reality hit me hard. What the heck was I going to do? I was half way into a 10km walk in the middle of the outback with only a toilet at the starting point. I was either going to have to do something that could potentially cause me a huge amount of embarrassment or endure the most painful and awkward 5 km walk of my life. Trev kept telling me to squat behind the shrubbery along the sides of the track. “No-one will see you, you’ll be right, I’ll guard you” .. umm not a chance buddy. Memories from childhood camping trips where I attempted the squat only to miss and pee all over myself came rushing back, images of my squatting down with my butt on show in front of Uluru being made into a meme and plastered all over the internet made me cringe and anyway, as I pointed out to him, this is a sacred site. If it’s offensive to take a photograph in some spots, I don’t think the Aboriginal people would appreciate me weeing on their special land. It wasn’t going to happen. I would just have to keep praying that a toilet would appear and that no-one started cracking jokes.
Needless to say that remaining 5 klms were the longest, hardest of my life. I’m sure Trev thought it was completely hilarious and got much enjoyment from my ‘problem’. When I finally reached the starting point and other travellers were asking how it was I couldn’t say anything other than, “toilet, where’s the toilet?” and quickly left Trev to do the socialising while I ran around like a parent searching desperately for their lost child in a shopping centre. I found it off the main track a little, the happiness I felt was immense. I have never been so happy to see a toilet in my entire life. As I entered the stall all ready to relieve myself I quickly had a peek in the toilet bowl only to find a lovely family of big, fat, green, croaking frogs staring back at me! Seriously!! You would not read about it. I almost died and wet myself on the spot. Instead I ran out of there trying not to scream and scare the other tourists and go to the next toilet. Thankfully it was animal free. When I walked out of there I had a whole new lease on life.
“You’ll be right, just squat behind the trees, no-one will see you” he said.
When I think of my Uluru experience it would be easy to be negative about it and think about what a stuff up it was and how I missed out on truly immersing myself in the surroundings but then I think how it’s a wonderful example that sometimes things don’t go the way you planned it would in your mind but it happens how it is meant to. Trev and I will always remember Uluru with a giggle and memories that will always be with us. Although at the time I was not at all impressed, now I see the funny side. When you travel you just have to roll with the punches. The one thing you need to take with you is a good sense of humor.
Interesting Facts about Uluru
* Uluru is the Aboriginal and official name, athough in Australia it is well-known as Ayers Rock.
* Uluru is 348 meters above the ground. Unbelieveably 2.5 klms of it is underground.
* 37 people have died attempting to climb Uluru since 1950
* It is estimated to be 600 million years old.