As we fly in, it’s easy to imagine that, millions of years ago, a wild beast was let loose on the land and he tore at it with his claws. Cracks line the earth, punctuated with strangely out of place straight lines and aqua and pink pools of water.
It looks like another planet and is often so red I imagine I’m on Mars. Straight and squiggly lines mark roads to god knows where, roads that stretch across the wasteland to points and places unknown. Scrub, sand and dirt. Scrub, sand and dirt. Never ending.
Strange patterns snake across the landscape. Very little green or blue, just red, brown, black and white as far as the eye can see. This is the red centre, the great nothing, except it’s everything and so very beautiful.
From the air, it looks like the trees are connected by a fluorescent mist but when you get down lower you see there’s bright green grass huddled around the tree bases, that’s what gives this effect. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me but it seems they were correct; they just couldn’t interpret what they were seeing.
The word I keep coming back to in my mind is alien. This place is like nothing I’ve ever seen. Red, red earth with straight spikes of tree stretching to the sky. Round tufts of grass huddled on the ground. The grass looks soft and pillowy but touch it and it’s all razors and spears.
Nothing lives here that hasn’t adapted to the harshness of the vicious sun and extreme lack of water. Trees live by dissolving rock for nutrients, by foregoing branches until their roots have tunnelled up to 50 meters below ground to reach water. Animal life is a rare sight as the intense heat makes every living thing a creature of the shade. In two days, I’ve seen one lizard, two birds and a handful of ants. Oh and about a million flies, the dominant life form of the outback.
Uluru itself is a magnificent sight. A chameleon of solid rock, it seems to change colours with the slightest variation in light. Of course, it’s not the rock that changes but the earth’s atmosphere reacting with the sun’s light but you can easily see why people think the rock is special.
At sunset, Uluru glows orange and red. In this light, it’s a stark, harsh monolith. You can easily see where the water has eaten away at the rock. From a distance, it looks like something wrapped up in blankets but, up close, it’s plain to see the handiwork of that same wild beast that tore up the land. When the sun starts to disappear, the rock softens and fades to brown then mauve. It’s as if someone’s taken an eraser and smudged out all the hard lines, leaving a smooth, ethereal blob of rock on the ground. A piece of clay left in the middle of the desert by a giant child.
For a solitary piece of stone, it has as many phases as the moon.