Rain on Uluru – a Dream Come True
We’ll always remember the 4th of December 2010. It rained on and off overnight, quite heavily around dawn. We were woken by loud thunderclaps, and we were quietly excited that this might be the day – we might finally see rain on Uluru. By the time we got up the rain had all but ceased, so our first job was to make sure our campsite was secure, and not flooded, as there was a fair bit of run-off coming through the campground. As soon as we could, we raced up to the nearby lookout to check out Uluru, but were disappointed to see that the rain had cleared over her. Damn!
Nonetheless, shortly thereafter we headed in, along the 20km road to Uluru, which we had driven countless times during our stay. Certainly the rain had stopped, but there remained steaks of water down Uluru’s side and a lot of water around her base. There had obviously been more rain overnight than we thought. Uluru’s waterholes, which had been noticeably drying up over the past week were now full to the brim and overflowing. And there were still subtle waterfalls at various points around her sides. One was flowing into Mutitjulu waterhole, which had overflowed into the surrounding field, creating a pond. A chorus of frogs sang out in joyous celebration. At the sublime, cathedral-like Kantju Gorge, a sheet of water still ran down the side of Uluru, forming a delightful natural water-feature. The previous day hundreds of tadpoles had been clustered together in the receding waters there, but now they had a huge pool in which to stretch out; and they were doing just that, swimming off in every direction with renewed energy.
We had missed the rain and the dramatic view of Uluru’s waterfalls in full flow, but the morning scene was nevertheless one of great beauty. Uluru looked fresh, clean, and her surrounds were brimming with water and life.
After taking our fill of the scene, we headed back to Yulara for lunch. The day remained humid, with Yulara’s infamous ants a constant reminder. Stop still for a few seconds and the pesty little mongrels were all over your feet, biting for all they were worth. They knew something was brewing.
By late afternoon the clouds were building to the south-west. Distances are deceptive here. Uluru and Kata Tjuta both seem a stone’s throw away, yet Kata Tjuta is around 50kms away. Similarly, trying to judge whether a bank of storm cloud is near Uluru, or in fact on the distant horizon way behind her, is tricky. But the storm clouds were building, and we decided to make the trip in, “just in case”.
We pulled in to the sunset viewing area. It was windy, and the scene dramatic. Huge clouds were looming to the south, though the sun was still shining on Uluru. It looked as though the rain would miss Uluru again. I swore. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a huge chunk of cloud broke away from the main bank and within the space of a couple of minutes engulfed us and Uluru. It was a sudden downpour! What a sight. Driving rain, a rainbow, wild winds; it had it all. We jumped into the car and headed closer to Uluru, where the scene was one of pure magic.
Uluru was covered with rain, looking as if she had been frosted all over in silver. The storm had passed suddenly, travelling west to east in only a few minutes, but in that time had dumped quite a deal of rain, more than enough to set the waterfalls into motion. But for a short while there was an eerie pause and silence, as Uluru stood bathed in silver. It seemed almost that she had taken a deep breath, holding onto the water, before releasing it in a rush down her sides. All across Uluru were streaks of white – which were in fact rivers running down her sides, or falling in a series of cascades before plunging in waterfalls.
The scene at Kantju Gorge was dramatic. A huge waterfall plunged over the high cliff into the pool below. Even from our car, hundreds of metres away, its roar was obvious. We drove around, taking in this breathtaking scene, stopping at Mutitjulu. We were surprised and disappointed to see that the rain had largely by-passed that area of Uluru, and the flow of the waterfall into Mutitjulu waterhole was little stronger than it had been in the morning. Unfazed, we walked further around Uluru’s base and in fading light were mesmerised by another waterfall as it plunged down her side to fill the surrounding country with life-bringing water.
The sudden storm on Uluru was, without doubt, the most stunningly beautiful thing we have ever witnessed.
5 December 2010
All the photos shown above are included in the following gallery but there are also others, in case you are really keen.
Click on the following links to view some short videos we took of Uluru after the overnight rain.