The Curse of the “Sorry Rocks”

If you missed my previous posts on my 7-Day Groovy Grape “Desert Patrol” Tour from Adelaide to Alice Springs, you may want to check out post #1 & post #2 first; then read below for the conclusion of a three-part series on my trip “up the guts” of Australia.

Outback Sunset

If you’ve read my previous posts on the Outback, you’ve heard a bit about Whales, our tour guide.  Of all the things he said to us throughout our week-long tour, this was by far my favorite:

“Anything can happen in the desert . . . & it usually does.”

Yeah, that just about made me want to jump off the bus right then & there & run for my life! . . . But more on that later. 😉  First, we must set the scene:

It is believed by the Aboriginals that Uluru tells many stories about how the land was created.  Due to both the spiritual significance of the site, as well as the danger involved, the Anangu people ask visitors not to climb the Rock, but many do so despite this request, including two people on my tour.

Climbing Ayers Rock (a.k.a. Uluru)

Another Aboriginal law that has frequently been violated over the years involves the taking of small rocks, sand, or other “souvenirs” from Uluru & the surrounding area.  As our guide cautioned, legend has it that anyone who steals from the land in this way will be cursed.  Not a believer?  Well, hundreds of would-be thieves have later returned these “sorry rocks” to the National Park along with letters of apology asking for forgiveness (& of course to please, please remove the curse!)

A different view of Uluru

So you will understand why, when I found myself in the middle of a 1 hour & 45 minute walk around the base of Uluru with a *very* full bladder, my angst was taken to a level beyond the embarrassment & awkwardness I felt the first two (yes, two!) times I was previously forced to wee in the bush.  What was I to do?!  Others in my group advised me to find a spot away from the Rock & just go (& I’m aware of at least one other person on my tour who did just that), but exactly how far away did I need to be in order to avoid a lifetime of misfortune?  For surely if the gods have cursed people for pilfering a mere stone or even a teensy grain of sand they would deem it just to deliver a far worse judgment upon one who urinates on their beloved land, would they not?!

Clearly this was not a good situation to be in.  So what did I do?  Well . . . I did what any other neurotic/OCD/superstitious individual would have done – I started repeating various mantras in my head to take my mind off things, my pace getting faster & faster all the while . . . first from a leisurely stroll up to a brisk walk, then to one of those half-skip/half-jog fiascoes (where you take 2 or 3 hop-steps to every normal one, trying to keep your legs as close together as possible lest anything should, er, leak out) & finally to a full-out sprint as I neared the end of the trail.  What exactly were those mantras, you ask?  Oh, ya know, something along the lines of “I will not pee on sacred ground” & “I did not travel all the way to Australia to be cursed.”  I know, I know – I would make a *great* motivational speaker.

Uluru is the largest monolith in the world

Well, joke if you must, but I made it!  Just barely, but still – I have never been so relieved (no pun intended) to see a toilet!  But now you must be curious as to how exactly I found myself in such a predicament in the first place; After all, an hour & 45 minutes is not so long . . . unless you’ve sculled a liter of water before the walk even began & then another liter after that!  So why would I torture myself in such a way?  Well only to avoid an even *more* epic disaster of course – that of getting dehydrated in the dry heat of the desert & having to be rescued by the R.F.D.S. (& that was only one of the many catastrophes Whales was alluding to when he said that anything can happen in the desert.  “Trust me,” he said, “it will totally ruin the rest of your holiday” . . . So I was not taking any chances!)  Fortunately we had an “uneventful” tour in the sense that we all somehow managed to avoid the need for any type of medical treatment, but we were told that people have gotten ill previously & that was all the warning I needed.  Although . . . it would have been nice for Whales to point out that it can also be dangerous to drink *too much* water – I did not even think about that possibility since I was so preoccupied with the fear of dehydration! :-/

Well, all’s well that ends well I suppose.  And Uluru was definitely an amazing sight to behold, especially at sunrise & sunset.  It is a tradition to toast the sunset at Uluru & our group did just that.

Champagne & hors d'oeuvres to celebrate the sunset at Uluru . . . for the rich guests on the tour group next to ours!

Hahaha – in all fairness, we did get some snacks – they just weren’t nearly as elegant as the spread in the picture above.  As for the alcohol, that was not included in the price of our budget tour, so we had to stock up before leaving Ceduna, the largest town we would see until we arrived in Alice Springs a week later.

Petra & I toasting the sunset at Uluru

But Uluru is not all there is to see in the Outback.  Kata Tjuta (also known as The Olgas) & Kings Canyon are also magnificent sites.

The gently rounded slopes of Kata Tjuta can't help but put one in a peaceful frame of mind

Kata Tjuta - Beautiful views from every angle

After climbing "Heart Attack Hill," we were richly rewarded with a gorgeous view of King's Canyon

Me, atop Kings Canyon

So this concludes my 7-day tour from Adelaide to Alice Springs.  While I wouldn’t want to live in such remote areas of the Outback, I’m really glad I visited & took the opportunity to see what Australia is like beyond her major cities.  So far I have to say that this tour along with the two weeks I spent in Tasmania (Wombats!!  Need I say more?) on the Oz Road Trip with Heather & Adam have been my favorite adventures to date, but I imagine that Queensland (which I am hoping to visit before my visa expires in February 2012) will provide some pretty amazing experiences as well.  For now, however, I am living & working in a place that I have deemed the most magical in all of Australia: my first love, Sydney.  More to come on my life in the Harbour City in future posts.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather
    Jul 21, 2011 @ 11:46:01

    Nice mantras 😉 Glad you were able to hold out….I think I would have done the same, despite my newfound comfort with peeing in the bush.


  2. Camille
    Jul 22, 2011 @ 13:29:07

    I can just picture you dancing around the rock and holding out to find unsacred ground to wee!

    Great post – and I love the info I read about the sorry rocks (with just one click) and how many visitors have returned things because of the “curse.” Really interesting.

    Your photos are amazing – what a gorgeous site this must have been to see at sunrise, sunset and all day long.

    Miss & love you!


  3. Auntie Marilyn
    Jul 22, 2011 @ 13:54:49

    Wow, just reading your post and I have to GO 🙂 I would have held it too….don’t need to take any chances. I bet the sunset was magnificant!!! So glad that you are telling your stories in such detail…almost feels like I’m there with you!!!


    • nicoleinoz
      Jul 23, 2011 @ 09:24:04

      The sunsets & sunrises were beautiful – it was cool to see the color of Uluru transform into various shades of brown & red as the sun changed position in the sky – really pretty!


  4. Aunt Penny
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 00:55:51

    Niki, you’re too funny!!! What an ordeal, but what a beautiful place to visit. I’m so glad you’re having all those wonderful experiences (and I must admit, I’m a little jealous too). Love you…


    • nicoleinoz
      Jul 26, 2011 @ 11:05:07

      There is so much to see in Australia & it’s amazing how remote & empty much of the country is! It really is quite beautiful though. Love you too!


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