Journal of the far side: 5 – Longitude 131

Longitude 131 is the place where Uluru lives. Right in the middle of nowhere…

It’s 06:10 in the morning and the mercury is rising past twenty-eight degrees centigrade outside our air conditioned and life-saving room.

Most of yesterday afternoon, it was over forty degrees. When they bus you in from the local airport, they tell you you’ll need a litre of water for every hour you spend ‘our there’. Out there is Uluru, the largest monolith on Earth; a single rock, deeply sacred to the Aboriginal people, most of whose mass, like an iceberg, is beneath the surface of the rocky desert that forms the Red Centre of Australia. 

It is ‘just a rock’ but that doesn’t really describe it. Its presence on the near horizon – if you can get high enough within the small town of ‘Ayers Rock Resort’ to actually see it, is formidable. It changes colour throughout the day and is spectacular at sunrise and sunset. 

Apart from the photo taken from the air, I don’t have any others, yet. They advise you acclimatise to the dry heat before you venture away from the resort and into the desert. 

It is a desert, and a fierce one at that. Our progress is slow because young Alice is only sixteen months and we have to be triply cautious with everything we do. Having said that, she’s coping better than any of us grown-ups…

When you step outside, the world changes. The heat overwhelms you in an instant. Even under the mandatory hat, the heat assaults your head, making thinking laborious, and creating shallow breathing as your body goes into survival mode. I’m sure you can get used to it, eventually, but our two nights here is not going to cover it. 

Surprisingly, there are clouds – beautiful white-silver ones. There were even floods of rain in December- a very rare event! The abundant vegetation is the only evidence that it happened. 

An hour from now,  we get shuttled to the Rock to have our first experience. I look forward to writing about it…

©Stephen Tanham 2017.