A Little Choice…Uluru's Base Walk and Personal Choice

Rain alternated between a deluge and a misty-drizzle the entire first day on our Outback tour – and incredible luck meant we not only witnessed the waterfalls on Uluru (Ayres Rock), but also, a briefly visible rainbow as the last light of the day lit the rock a glowing orange.

Kata Juta

Kata Juta from afar

On the flip side though, the rain also meant that we missed hiking Kata Juta, we were often stuck inside the bus for incredibly long periods of time, our guide had to beg for tents instead of swags (open-to-the elements canvas sleeping bags) for our camping needs and we were all getting a bit of cabin fever by the end of only the first day.

All of this sounds like a right bit of whining, right?  I mean, nothing had gone according to plan. We were soggy from the rain and cold because we hadn’t anticipated it would be raining day and night. But that’s where it comes down to personal choice.

You choose the experience you want to have.

If I wanted to have a terrible tour of Australia’s Outback, then all I needed to do is make that choice. Because that’s all it is; the way that you choose to react to circumstance directly Melb - Uluru 042influences your level of enjoyment. Every single one of the 21 people on our tour bus had to make a choice: do we spend three days hating our luck and making life miserable, or do we really and truly, even when it’s incredibly difficult, try to find some ways to lighten up and make it fun.

By and large we made valiant efforts to not let the group mentality shift toward the negative. And that’s not to say that we didn’t have a couple of complainers, because out of 21 people, let me assure you that we did. But the group mentality stayed positive…even when we emerged, dripping wet and soaked to the bone from a two hour walk/swim around the base of Uluru.

Day Two: A flooded trip around Uluru’s Base Walk

That’s right, day two of the tour traditionally involves a glorious sunrise over Uluru and then Uluru’s two hour long base walk, followed by climbing the rock for those tourists who have absolutely no respect for the Aboriginal culture and their request not to do it (and yes, that’s my very blatant opinion that you shouldn’t do it. People do, lots of people, but the Aboriginals ask you not too – and it’s their rock, and it means a whole lot more to them and their culture than it does to me, so I would have respected the request even if it weren’t raining and impossible to climb…and I’m done with the rant now).

So Jess dropped us off at the at one side of Uluru and with a quick wave and sped down the road to our rendezvous point on the other side of the rock…leaving us with only one effective way to the other side: navigate the two hour base walk.

At first the ground was merely a thick, pasty mud with pockets of water that were easily avoidable.Uluru's Flooded Basewalk

Then, we fully gave up hope of keeping our boots dry as the water rose to ankle deep.

Uluru Flooding
At this point several in the group protested hotly and, with a bad attitude plastered all over their faces, turned around to try to hitch back to the bus. For those of us who soldiered on…next came the waist deep stream crossings.

Melb - Uluru 019
I’ll not lie and say that the dozen of us who waded around the base of Uluru maintained a positive attitude the whole time, but we did make it a game. And by the time the water was nearing waist deep, can you really do much else than laugh and see the hilarity in the situation?

My conclusion? One lesson learned, and one more solidified: Don’t walk Uluru’s base walk in the rain and you choose your own experience.

Have you ever faced an unlucky situation and made the choice about what kind of experience you were going to have?

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33 Responses to A Little Choice…Uluru's Base Walk and Personal Choice

  1. Holiday_Travel_Tips December 25, 2009 at 2:53 am #

    Just came and read, this is wow! I was seek from many blogs, but here is the best, I love it.

  2. Millican_Jorrit December 15, 2009 at 12:17 pm #

    Good for you, Shannon. I also did this walk, but not in floods like you! Had the good fortune to o and spend three days in an Aboriginal settlement out in the bush too just after that. Amazing privilege to be able to spend time with some indigenous people and find out more about how they survive in a pretty forbidding landscape and climate.

    • ShannonOD December 15, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

      What an incredibly opportunity and experience – and three days! So many of
      the tours I saw offered a “quick stop” into Aboriginal settlements, and it
      didn't seem like that was even enough time to gain any real understanding,
      but in three days I imagine you got a pretty close look :-)

  3. ShannonOD December 15, 2009 at 7:32 am #

    What an incredibly opportunity and experience – and three days! So many of
    the tours I saw offered a “quick stop” into Aboriginal settlements, and it
    didn't seem like that was even enough time to gain any real understanding,
    but in three days I imagine you got a pretty close look :-)

  4. Kim December 12, 2009 at 2:43 pm #

    It was also raining when I visited Uluru, but not to the extent that you describe. Keeping positive when traveling is definitely an absolute necessity – and things will go wrong – and your attitude can serioulsy impact everyone around you.

    • ShannonOD December 12, 2009 at 5:27 pm #

      That's amazing that it was raining for you too! Did you get to see the
      waterfalls? As for the attitude, that's such a good point, if you choose to
      go negative, you could be just enough to tip everyone over that way :-)

  5. ShannonOD December 12, 2009 at 10:27 am #

    That's amazing that it was raining for you too! Did you get to see the
    waterfalls? As for the attitude, that's such a good point, if you choose to
    go negative, you could be just enough to tip everyone over that way :-)

    • Millican_Jorrit December 15, 2009 at 5:17 am #

      Good for you, Shannon. I also did this walk, but not in floods like you! Had the good fortune to o and spend three days in an Aboriginal settlement out in the bush too just after that. Amazing privilege to be able to spend time with some indigenous people and find out more about how they survive in a pretty forbidding landscape and climate.

  6. Angela December 12, 2009 at 8:21 am #

    Shannon, you so reminded me of my tour at the Brazilian side of the Iguaçu waterfalls. I got completely soaked for two reasons: it was pouring and the boat driver brought us right underneath the waterfalls…
    But you're right, I chose to *fully* enjoy the day and I did: my will was so strong that I didn't even catch the flu ;-)
    Good for you, you didn't want to climb: if we don't respect the culture of the countries we are visiting there's no point in visiting them at all.

    • ShannonOD December 12, 2009 at 5:25 pm #

      Nice! I like that your will got you out of that one ;-) I never seem to be
      able to take my will that far – I feel like I *always *get sick, lol. Oh –
      and for the record, I'm jealous about Iguaçu Falls – it's on my bucket list!

  7. EmmaOconnor December 11, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    Great post Shannon, I've really enjoyed your Uluru posts, they take me home!! Years ago I was hiking through the remote south west in Tassie with a couple of other girls. We hiked 6 hours in and camped near a beach where there were no footsteps but our own. We stayed a couple of wet cold nights and then decided to turn back. (The original idea was a one way hike, not a return!) I remeber a good part of the hike back was barefoot, everything was soooo wet, we were wading too. (Nothing waist deep I don't think) We got back to the beginning of the walk (not a town, just a rangers hut) and found the road was unpassable… we were stuck!! Luckily for us the ranger invited us plus another party in and we all had an awesome night. It was a challenging trip, but the sense of comraderie and satisfaction we got from 'surviving' it was awesome. Attitude is definitely everthing ;) (Sorry about the novel in your comments!)

    • ShannonOD December 12, 2009 at 3:24 am #

      No worries!! I love the novel :-) What a great adventure in Tassie – I *really
      *wished that I had made it there, but it wasn't feasible. I love the thought
      of you guys all camped out together though, those types of moments are just
      some of the best…it's like, if you're open and optimistic you'll be able
      to find the joy in the situation – in this case your friends for the
      evening! :-)

  8. ShannonOD December 11, 2009 at 8:14 pm #

    Thanks Trisha! I figured what was the point of being miserable – either way
    I was going to wade through all of that water ;-)

    • ShannonOD December 11, 2009 at 8:16 pm #

      Thanks Candice! That second pic is the one I was lucky to see. According to
      some Aussies who commented on the last post, you just DONT ever see Uluru
      like that :-)

  9. ShannonOD December 11, 2009 at 8:11 pm #

    That's a great way to think about it – like a big challenge. I admit that I
    watch the Amazing Race when I am home – so I'll think of it like that when
    I'm stuck in a tough spot ;-) As for climbing Uluru – I was actually
    pretty surprised that so many ppl *would *have done it if it hadn't been
    raining…I dont get it..

    • ShannonOD December 11, 2009 at 8:18 pm #

      Exactly!! I'll admit it was tough at times, but you're right – the weather
      is just the one thing you can't get mad about …and an adventure it was
      :-)

  10. Jennifer @ Approach Guides December 11, 2009 at 6:39 pm #

    What a story! I agree with your perspective: there is nothing that can be done about many things that occur while traveling — especially when it comes to weather! The best thing to do is try to maintain a sense of humor and adventure.

    • ShannonOD December 12, 2009 at 3:18 am #

      Exactly!! I'll admit it was tough at times, but you're right – the weather
      is just the one thing you can't get mad about …and an adventure it was
      :-)

  11. Candice December 11, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

    I agree 100%, and hey, you got a pretty awesome adventure story out of it. I hate complainers, they always ruin a trip. That second picture is SO great.

    • ShannonOD December 12, 2009 at 3:16 am #

      Thanks Candice! That second pic is the one I was lucky to see. According to
      some Aussies who commented on the last post, you just DONT ever see Uluru
      like that :-)

  12. Trisha Miller December 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

    Great post! You're so right Shannon – attitude is a choice we make – I agree that sometimes the best thing to do is to just make the best of a bad situation and try to view it as a source for good stories later (especially when there isn't much else you can do anyway!).

    • ShannonOD December 12, 2009 at 3:14 am #

      Thanks Trisha! I figured what was the point of being miserable – either way
      I was going to wade through all of that water ;-)

  13. Dave and Deb December 11, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    Well said! It always about choosing your own experiences and while it can be difficult at times to stay positive, it is so much more pleasant when you do. Good for you for not climbing. It is so important to respect local culture and beliefs. Truthfully, I think that I would love wading through waste deep streams. Whenever we come across something like that, I always pretend that I am taking part in the Eco Challenge or something and imagine that I look far cooler than I actually am:)

    • ShannonOD December 12, 2009 at 3:11 am #

      That's a great way to think about it – like a big challenge. I admit that I
      watch the Amazing Race when I am home – so I'll think of it like that when
      I'm stuck in a tough spot ;-) As for climbing Uluru – I was actually
      pretty surprised that so many ppl *would *have done it if it hadn't been
      raining…I dont get it..

  14. EmmaOconnor December 11, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    Great post Shannon, I've really enjoyed your Uluru posts, they take me home!! Years ago I was hiking through the remote south west in Tassie with a couple of other girls. We hiked 6 hours in and camped near a beach where there were no footsteps but our own. We stayed a couple of wet cold nights and then decided to turn back. (The original idea was a one way hike, not a return!) I remeber a good part of the hike back was barefoot, everything was soooo wet, we were wading too. (Nothing waist deep I don't think) We got back to the beginning of the walk (not a town, just a rangers hut) and found the road was unpassable… we were stuck!! Luckily for us the ranger invited us plus another party in and we all had an awesome night. It was a challenging trip, but the sense of comraderie and satisfaction we got from 'surviving' it was awesome. Attitude is definitely everthing ;) (Sorry about the novel in your comments!)

    • ShannonOD December 11, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

      No worries!! I love the novel :-) What a great adventure in Tassie – I *really
      *wished that I had made it there, but it wasn't feasible. I love the thought
      of you guys all camped out together though, those types of moments are just
      some of the best…it's like, if you're open and optimistic you'll be able
      to find the joy in the situation – in this case your friends for the
      evening! :-)

  15. Jennifer @ Approach Guides December 11, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    What a story! I agree with your perspective: there is nothing that can be done about many things that occur while traveling — especially when it comes to weather! The best thing to do is try to maintain a sense of humor and adventure.

    • Angela December 12, 2009 at 1:21 am #

      Shannon, you so reminded me of my tour at the Brazilian side of the Iguaçu waterfalls. I got completely soaked for two reasons: it was pouring and the boat driver brought us right underneath the waterfalls…
      But you're right, I chose to *fully* enjoy the day and I did: my will was so strong that I didn't even catch the flu ;-)
      Good for you, you didn't want to climb: if we don't respect the culture of the countries we are visiting there's no point in visiting them at all.

  16. Candice December 11, 2009 at 11:02 am #

    I agree 100%, and hey, you got a pretty awesome adventure story out of it. I hate complainers, they always ruin a trip. That second picture is SO great.

  17. Trisha Miller December 11, 2009 at 9:25 am #

    Great post! You're so right Shannon – attitude is a choice we make – I agree that sometimes the best thing to do is to just make the best of a bad situation and try to view it as a source for good stories later (especially when there isn't much else you can do anyway!).

    • Kim December 12, 2009 at 7:43 am #

      It was also raining when I visited Uluru, but not to the extent that you describe. Keeping positive when traveling is definitely an absolute necessity – and things will go wrong – and your attitude can serioulsy impact everyone around you.

  18. Dave and Deb December 11, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    Well said! It always about choosing your own experiences and while it can be difficult at times to stay positive, it is so much more pleasant when you do. Good for you for not climbing. It is so important to respect local culture and beliefs. Truthfully, I think that I would love wading through waste deep streams. Whenever we come across something like that, I always pretend that I am taking part in the Eco Challenge or something and imagine that I look far cooler than I actually am:)

    • ShannonOD December 12, 2009 at 10:25 am #

      Nice! I like that your will got you out of that one ;-) I never seem to be
      able to take my will that far – I feel like I *always *get sick, lol. Oh –
      and for the record, I'm jealous about Iguaçu Falls – it's on my bucket list!

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