Walpa Gorge Walk
My first glimpse of Kata Tjuta was when watching the sunrise on Uluru.
My eye was drawn away from the main spectacle directly in front of me to the horizon where, 50 km away across the spinifex and desert oaks plain, Kata Tjuta’s 36 domes vied for attention.
that I snapped my first closer view from the car window 🙂
Named the Olgas by Ernest Giles in 1872, it is known as Kata Tjuta, which is Pitjantjatjara meaning ‘many heads’.
Rounding a corner our first ‘classic’ view of the Kata Tjuta domes (or should I say some of its ‘many heads’) came into view.
There are two walks at Kata Tjuta –
- The Valley of the Winds walk, a 7.4km circuit. The first 1.1km takes you to the Karu Lookout, where when the temperature rises to or above 36 degrees Celsius (close on 100 Fahrenheit!) the track is closed.
- Walpa (windy) Gorge is a 2.6km return walk following a rocky track that rises and falls within sheer red rugged walls, ultimately reaching a non-permanent stream.
We left our visit till late in the day as it had felt hot, choosing to do the shorter Walpa Gorge Walk, before retreating to a little distance away to watch the sunset.
To read about the longer 7.4km Valley of the Winds Walk click the below links:
- Kata Tjuta – Valley of the Winds Walk as far as Karingana Lookout
- Kata Tjuta – Valley of the Winds – Across the Open Plain
We learned later it had been 40C that day!
No wonder we’d thought it felt a little ‘warm’ 😉
The heat reflecting off the track, even late in the afternoon was unrelenting.
We were pleased we’d done the:
- Slip (on long sleeved clothing)
- Slop (on sunscreen)
- Slap (on a hat)
- Slide (on sunnies)
(not part of the slogan)
- Slurped! (with a litre of water per hour/per person)
Unlike Uluru, which is made from the sedimentary rock arkose sandstone, Kata Tjuta is made from a sedimentary rock called conglomerate –
This is a mix of gravel, pebbles and boulders cemented together by sand and mud.
As we penetrated deeper into Walpa Gorge, the sides rose higher and came in closer together. The highest dome rises to 500 meters (Uluru is 348 meters).
Seen on the map below we took the lower rusty red path into Walpa Gorge.
The narrowness between the ‘heads’ can be seen even more clearly on the image below, which was taken by an astronaut in space.
As we neared the end…
it was a pleasant surprise to find this refreshing (impermanent) pool of water
…to take a break and cool off in the shade.
It wasn’t only us enjoying the respite from the pounding sun –
Leaving the gorge behind us…
Then, from the sunset viewing area we watched…
as Kata Tjuta’s domes got redder
…a full moon appeared
(disappearing intermittently behind the clouds)
While the sun made its final flamboyant farewell for the day
…as it dropped below the western horizon.
And we said our final goodbyes…
to the resplendent Kata Tjuta that stood before us.
The magic of the Red Centre
Have you been?
Do share in the comments below 🙂