Travel Story Time for some northern exposure

Walking round the base of Ayers Rock - Uluru.
Picture: Stephen Scourfield The West Australian

STEPHEN SCOURFIELD offers some timely advice for the many West Australians ready to hit the road and follow the sun.

The climb up Uluru will be permanently closed from October 26.

The Anangu traditional owners and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park board agreed to the closure in November 2017.

 For years, the Anangu have “preferred” visitors not climb the sacred rock. 

They believe when the world was being formed, the Uluru climb was the route taken by Mala men when they arrived at Uluru. The Mala had come from the north. October 26 is the anniversary of Uluru being handed back to the Anangu.

While it is thought the first European to climb Uluru was Englishman William Gosse in 1873, the first fully recorded climb was in 1936, with the start of the more modern version of tourism. Records have been kept since the 1950s, showing 37 deaths caused by the climb. In 1964 there were two fatalities, in 1964, after which, in 1966, a chain was installed on a steep part of the climb. It was upgraded and completed in 1976.

There’s a great walk around Uluru’s base, showing it in all its facets and its desert context.

Permit to travel 

Travellers need a permit to drive the Great Central Road Uluru from WA’s Goldfields to Uluru. Permits give travellers three days from Laverton to the WA border, and three days between Docker River and Yulara. Vehicles need a permit to travel both ways.

To obtain a WA permit click here

Road upgrade

The Wiluna-Meekatharra Road is being upgraded. It is an important east-west link between the northern Goldfields and Mid West, Gascoyne and Pilbara but 125km of its 180km, between Wiluna and Meekatharra, is unsealed. Some is in poor condition, rain makes it worse, and there are road closures several times a year.

An initial $1 million has been allocated for a pilot project to seal 4km from Wiluna, connecting to an existing sealed section. The pilot project may evolve into a rolling program to seal the entire road.

Check for leaks

Murray Joyce is a regular reader: “I know I have said this many times but the content is very worthwhile.” And he adds to the vehicle tips in last Saturday’s separate Warming Up Winter colour magazine: “The matter of leakages from vehicles is not as prevalent as it was when some of us started driving. For me, that was about the 1960s, where leakages occurred almost everywhere any vehicle was parked.

“Fact is, these were warnings to us that some parts of our engines were bleeding to death, and urgently needed attention. This is still the case today. We know we have leaks coming from various places but we just keep on topping up that part rather than correcting the fault. Pending disaster.

“The bottom line is, when we move a vehicle from its parking place, it’s a good idea to look back to its parking place, and see if there are any telltale spots, oil, water etcetera, we are leaving behind. Any leaks that are coming from your engine should be corrected immediately.”

Murray says a recent trip on the Kimberley’s Gibb River Road spelt out the commandment for some drivers who left home with nil fluids. “It’s a huge risk that cost them thousands.”

Sheeting it home 

As I mentioned in our Page 3 column, we recently made reference to reading the fine print carefully and one reader did just that on an advertisement for Home Valley Station, on the Gibb River Road. The offer was for $223 per person, twin share, for a two-night stay in a guesthouse room. The small print added: “Using existing bedding.”

“Does that mean they don’t change the sheets between guests,” our reader wondered.

A spokesperson for Voyages, which runs Home Valley, explains: “This simply means using the beds that are in the rooms. For example, if a cot or additional roll-away bed is required, there may be an additional charge.” Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia is owned by the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation and also owns and runs Ayers Rock Resort.

Sunny up north

Still in the Kimberley, reader Ralph Moore sent a picture of Broome’s palm trees and colourful sky at sunset. 

He had noticed the Warming Up Winter magazine: “I really appreciate your support of tourism in WA as shown again in the Travel magazine in The Weekend West today.”

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