Clock Around the Rock with a couple of Leica digitals
I should start with an apology to the Bill Haley and the Comets classic hit for the transposition in the title, but we did walk all 10km of it, and we did walk it clockwise around the Rock.
Winter is the time to visit Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock, smack bang somewhere in the centre of Australia. The temperatures are tolerable, and the air is clear. So it was time for the better half and me to take a few days to visit an area that we hadn’t previously. Driving there from Sydney would have taken three days each way, far too long and tiring if we were only going to be there for a short time, so we flew from Sydney directly to Ayers Rock Airport. Sightseeing and some photography were the primary aims of the travel along with a birthday celebration for my better half.
Regarding photography, it’s easy to get the standard tourist images of Uluru, so my challenge to try to find some other pictures that provided our own memories of a special few days there.
Our first morning involved a 5 am start (and I am not a morning person!). We collected our packed lunches at the hotel desk and were bussed to a sand dune to watch the sunrise on the Rock. The National Park areas are quite strictly regulated regarding access and locations, so we were there along with many other fellow travellers. It was cold (-1 Celsius), but everyone was excited as the light changed. It was an opportunity to include tourists themselves in the photos rather than just take the standard Rock pics that most everyone else was making.
Then it was off to the base of the Rock for the 10km circumnavigation that we had planned. Easy walking, excellent flat track. We walked it, a few others did as well, and it was quiet and peaceful after people spread out according to their own pace and direction.
Below: Different ways to circle the Rock. We walked. Click on images to enlarge
Up close and personal with Uluru there are new sights to intrigue every few minutes. The walk took a relaxing three hours. Always interesting with changing perspectives — and different aspects as below.
That night we were again back on a bus for a short ride to an installation by British artist Bruce Munro — the largest in his worldwide series of Field of Light. 50,000 individual lights of subtly changing colours out there in the desert, all connected by optic fibre cables fed by stored solar power. It was surreal to walk a long path amongst them. Seeing the lights in the cold darkness out there in the middle of nowhere was a surreal experience.
Below: Uluru Field of Light, exceptional en masse, and even the pathway lights were extraordinary out there in the desert.
Well, that took care of our first full day out there. For the second day, it was back on the bus at 5 am (yawn!) and off to another sand dune to view sunrise on Kata Tjuta, formerly known as The Olgas. They are a large group of nearly 40 individual domes, many even higher than Uluru, about 50 km away, standing alone in their own desert location. Again, the crowds were there, and The Olgas were the subject, but the sunrise looking back towards Uluru in the distance provided the opportunity for a couple of different images.
Below:Walking a gorge at Kata Tjuta. My better half tells me that an artist’s trick is to sometimes include a splash of red in an image, but if you can’t find red then blue will do.
That evening it was again on to a bus for a late afternoon viewing of Uluru. The colour change was quite fast and undoubtedly dramatic as the sunset occurred. That was followed by a white tablecloth dinner under the stars out there in the desert. And what better place to have two astronomers and their telescopes to provide the after-dinner talk and explore the Southern sky.
All too soon, the next day it was back to Ayers Rock airport for the return flight to Sydney. It afforded the opportunity for a couple of photos out the window. The iPad had to do the job because the cameras were safely packed away in the overhead locker.
Below left: Ayers Rock airport. A runway in the desert. Centre: Abstract sand dunes of the Simpson Desert Right: On approach into Sydney, looking along the Parramatta River towards Sydney Harbour (Click on images to enlarge)
And what were the cameras? A Leica X2 set on full Auto for all day shots, and a Leica D Lux 109 wide open at f/1.7 for the night shots. Ageing technologies, yes, but each of them is half the weight of the Leica Q that a colleague continues to urge me to move to (He’s a frequent Macfilos contributor, he knows who he is!). I’m happy with those little pieces of compact kit, they’re great for long walks in special places. And the images from the plane were taken with an iPad 2017, the cameras were safely stowed in the overhead locker.