The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is one of the most popular attractions in Australia. Set in the heart of the Red Centre, it boasts two of the countries most beautiful landscape icons.
Also known as ‘The Olgas’, Kata Tjuta is protected aboriginal land in the Red Centre, and means ‘Many Heads’. When looking at the large stones, it’s not hard to imagine why this name was chosen; It consists of 36 steep sandstone monoliths that are dotted across the rugged and wild landscape.
To view these exceptional natural offerings, you can head to their designated viewing platforms, or walk through them. The Valley Of The Winds is the only remaining trail open to walk through Kata Tjuta.
The Valley of the Winds is a 7.4-kilometre circuit takes you through and around the heads of Kata Tjuta, on steep, uneven paths. On a hot day where the temperatures are above 36c, Parks Australia will close the entrance at 11am, and it will not reopen until the next day. In extreme heat, the trail can be difficult to climb because it has little shade and only 3 refill water stations.
On this particular morning, even though it was 33c, the weather was perfect for our walk. The trail would remain open all day, as it was still raining and cloudy from the storm the night before. As recommended, everyone brought 2 water bottles each and wore hats.
As we walked through the entrance to the start of the trail, we realised some of the group were smarter than others… Matt, Aaron and I had worn flip-flops and very soon realised the error of our ways. The stony path was quite difficult to walk along, and on several occasions, we would have to climb (no one can climb like Ramsay though, and his Gortex boots are the best).
First, we stopped at Karu Lookout.
Continuing further along the path, we decided to turn right and head for the Karingana Lookout. We climbed over large boulders, up a 45-degree angled rock, and stopped in a small canyon. Ramsay took the opportunity to climb, while wearing his awesome Gortex boots.
En route to the lookout, we started up stone steps. They seemed to go on for ages, and trapped between the rocks, there was very little air flow. Finally, we arrive.
The rocks either side of the Karingana Lookout created a V-shaped picture frame, with some of the Kata-Tjuta as a background. Absolutely sweating from the climb, we were excited to finally feel the wind again and took the opportunity to rest.
It was only here that the name of our walking path made sense. Atop the lookout, it almost sounded like the wind was whistling or singing as it passed through the rocks.
From here, the rest of the walk would continue downhill and around the heads, offering a beautiful view from behind. We stopped to have a stone-throwing competition and rested again at the water refill station.
Although we had underestimated how rough the terrain would be, none of us was prepared for walking through the creek. The stream was about 10cm deep, and with tall grass either side there was no other choice than for everyone to take their shoes off and rock hop a few hundred metres to the end. While initially, I had thought it was a poor choice to wear flip-flops, it came in handy here.
It was only when we got to the end, that we realised there was a dirt path running parallel to the stream, that none of us had seen. Doh! At least the water was refreshing and cooling.
Even though it was cloudy, we were all exhausted from the heat. Our feet were sore, and most of us had got through the water we’d brought. We finished the last few steps of the trail around Uluru’s underrated sibling and got back in the car. Those of us who weren’t driving, were asleep before the engine even started.
It was a tough walk, but I’m glad we had the opportunity to complete it.