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Flowers such as this nectar-filled honey grevillea (Grevillea eriostachya) are currently found all around the base of Uluru, as well as the sunset and sunrise viewing platforms. Grevillea are favoured by birds and local aboriginal people for the sweet nectar they contain.
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Central Australia is very green this year following a near decade of drought – and the area around Uluru looks much lusher than people would typically expect it to. “It’s so exciting to witness everything bursting into life. The process is very intense – the flowers brief and spectacular – the seedpods overwhelming in numbers, the flurry of life being born all around you,” says Martha Coomber of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. “It’s wonderful. I am so glad I am here to see it.”
A nook in the side of Uluru that you come to when doing the basewalk. The patterns and grooves in the side of the monolith are used to trace out the Dreaming stories of the local Anangu people, much as constellations of stars create patterns in the mythology of other cultures. For this reason, certain sacred parts of Uluru are totally off limits for photography.
A thick clump of native verbine (Psoralea patens) with Uluru in the background.
This delicate purple hand-flower (Goodemoa vilmorinae) is one of countless blooms in the Red Centre right now. “We’ve had to organise emergency training in plant identification for our information desk staff, because they were finding plants on their tours that none of us had ever seen before,” says Marth Coomber of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Dead finish (Acacia tetragonophylla) is a shrubby, spiked wattle with yellow, ball-like flowers.
Following the heavy rains of 2010, bright bluebells (Wahlenbergia) can be found in sprawling clumps around the base of Uluru.
Lichen can be found growing over boulders and even in big patches swaths down the southern side of Uluru.
According to Anangu culture, he Mutitjula waterhole – found in a smal gorge on the southern side if Uluru – is home of a ‘wanampi’, an ancestral watersnake. Small birds were calling and hopping about in the waterfall.
Yellow button daisies in their hundreds alongside the Lungkata walk at Uluru.
A variety of different cloud types meant the view over Uluru is often interesting. The tents in the lower left are Longitude 131, an exclusive five star ‘camping’ resort secluded in the sand dunes. It features what is perhaps the best restaurant between Darwin and Adelaide. Here you can wake up in the morning with an unobstructed view of the sun rising over the Rock from your bed.
Uluru from above – captured from a scenic helicopter flight. The droning of helicopters can be irritating from he ground, but the view of Uluru and Kata Tjuta from above is truly spectacular.
Kata Tjuta from above. The 36 domes of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) are 32 km west of Uluru. The highest is 548 m high – nearly 200 m higher than Uluru.
After a largely overcast day walking around Kata Tjuta and through Walpa Gorge, the setting sun dropped below the cloud layer and bathed the domes in warm orange light. The mass of green foliage can be seen here too.
Steep-sided Walpa (‘windy’) Gorge, at Kata Tjuta, provides cool respite from the heat of the sun. The rocky track climbs along a meandering stream currently flanked by shrubs and wildflowers.
The rocky mouth to Kata Tjuta’s Walpa Gorge leads out onto a broad plain.
Wildflowers – such as the bottle-brush-like ‘tall mulla mulla’ (Ptilotus exaltatus) can be found carpeting the hills that lead up to Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park, around 100 km to the northeast of Uluru.
When the good times comes plants and animals come out of the rock crevices to take full advantage, such as this unidentified flower at Kings Canyon. “The difference water makes is phenomenal,” says Martha Coomber of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. “You can see everything around you coming to life in a frantic rush to sow seeds or breed, to make the most of the water while it’s available.”
At Kings Canyon a couple of spinfex pigeons (Geophaps plumifera) began to follow us around, and one of the did a funny little dance with its tail feathers fluffed up, as seen here.
Lichen covered rocks on the edge of Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park. The whole region around the canyon is currently smothered with wildflowers, adding another dimension to the fantastic 6 km rim walk.
A Sturt’s desert pea (Swainsona formosa), the floral emblem of South Australia, at Kings Canyon. Rare at Uluru it’s found 100 km away at Kings Canyon and becomes more common towards Alice Springs.
The Kings Canyon rim walk – at Watarrka National Park, around 100 km northeast of Uluru – passes through numerous heavily weathered sandstone domes. Many of the dips are currently filled with small pools of water.
Small lizards at Kata Tjuta are so well camouflaged you have to work hard to spot them – but when you do, most are happy to be photographed up close without making a run for it.
Uluru’s new sunrise viewing area at 5.30am. Overcast weather thwarted efforts to capture the first rays which usually bathe the Rock in light . Uluru was looking distinctly wet and moody. Normally yellow and brittle-looking, the spinfex is currently green.
Another thing made possible by the rainy weather, aside from the wildflowers, are rainbows (top left).
Home Travel Destinations Gallery: The greening of the Red Centre
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