Walking on sunshine at Uluru

Just a big rock? Guest bloggers and photographers, Corinne Le Gall and Maree Clout take the 10.6 km base walk around Uluru

Photographically, Uluru is a visual delight. The scenery changes constantly, as does the mood of the landscape. Some parts are dry and sandy, just like you’d expect in a desert environment, while other parts are surprisingly vegetated and lush.

The moment you first set eyes upon Uluru on the distant horizon, you get an idea of how much it dominates the surrounding landscape. But it isn’t until you stand beside it, or even better, walk around it, that you can truly appreciate the size, the beauty and the rich cultural significance of this incredible place. There is truly nothing quite like it in the world.

Photo by Corinne Le Gall

We began our base walk at the mala carpark and headed off in a clockwise direction towards Kantju Gorge. The mala (rufous hare-wallaby) people came from the north and camped here in the beginning.

The path is rich in traditional cultural sites. At Kulpi Nyiinkaku, we saw ancient rock art and along the way signs revealed the Indigenous history and traditions of this section of Uluru . There are culturally sensitive parts of the rock that are not to be photographed - these parts are signified by signs, so make sure you’re on the lookout for these. Keep these images in your memory….instead of your memory card!

Photo by Corinne Le Gall

Kantju Gorge has a semi permanent waterhole beneath an extremely dramatic, high vertical wall. You have to crane your neck to see where the high red wall meets the blue sky. The large gums around the waterhole provided some nice shade. It’s like an oasis and there is a strong sense of serenity here. This is a good place to get some beautiful photographs – then put your camera down and take a few moments to absorb the beauty.

The next part of the walk to Kuniya Piti is where we first came across masses of beautiful wild flowers. This section takes you further away from the rock itself and covers a large area of dry open savanna. We spotted some diamond doves - their distinct call, along with the soothing sound of the wind blowing through the spinifex, was almost eerie.

Occasionally we stopped to sit on one of the beautifully carved timber benches, had a snack or talked to other walkers passing by. The path is nice and flat and it’s difficult to take your eyes away from the rock itself. Along this section, are other culturally sensitive areas, where photography is not permitted. At Kuniya Piti, there is another water station to fill your water bottle. Even in winter make sure to drink plenty of water.

Photo  by Corinne Le Gall

From Kuniya Piti, we followed the southern side of Uluru  towards the Mutitjulu Waterhole.

The countless variations between light and shade, depending on the time of day, allow you to be creative and get some stunning landscape photos where permitted. And don’t forget to look down. The plants and animals on this side of the rock change constantly.

Being on the shaded side of the rock, we were amazed to see pools of water, fungi, lichen and even tadpoles | Photo by Maree Clout

The light and the way it interacts with the red gums and the sheer walls of Uluru is incredible. Landscape photography is all about chasing light. Trust me when I say…you won’t be disappointed.

Mutitjulu Waterhole  Photo by Maree Clout

Our next stop was Mutitjulu Waterhole, home of Wanampi, an ancestral water snake. It is the most reliable kapi (water) at Uluru. A place of great significance to the Anangu people, it’s a sacred place that should be treated with respect. It is also a vital water source for the wildlife.

It’s here we learned how Kuniya (the woma python woman) and Liru (the poisonous snake man) helped create Uluru. The water running off the top of Uluru after rainfall, has sculpted a series of smooth cupped ridges into the side of the rock.

Nearby we saw paintings in the caves which are still used by the Anangu people today, before heading off on the final part of our base walk.

Kulpi Watiku| Photo by Corinne Le Gall

The Lungkata Walk takes you on a journey of more pretty wild flowers and amazing rock formations.

Here we learned about Lungkata (the blue-tongued lizard man) and were reminded that every feature has significant cultural importance to Anangu.

It’s a long way around the base of Uluru but it’s also a sandy flat walk that makes it suitable for most people…even photographers carrying multiple cameras and lenses can do it easily!

The light and colour on the shapes, details and textures will have you experimenting with lens choice and composition.

The base walk gives you an opportunity to be close to Uluru . There are hidden delights around every corner for those who choose to embark on this enlightening journey.

The rock and the surrounding landscape is positively inspiring. If you’re a photographer, my advice is to take your time…go slow. There is a lot to learn and see but more importantly…to respect. Let the energy guide you.

Words: Corinne Le Gall

Pictures: Maree Clout and Corinne Le Gall