O is for the Olgas ( Kata Tjuta) and Open Gardens

O is for the OLGAS

The Olgas or Kata Tjuta, as this rock formation is now known, is part of the Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park. Kata Tjuta’s more famous big sister tends to take the highest profile but if you’re heading for the Red Centre you should allow time to do both parts of the park. This national park is truly Australia’s red heart and is smack bang in the middle of the country and probably encapsulates the sense of the Outback more than anywhere else.

The Olgas from a distance. ©Pauleen Cass 1994
The Olgas from a distance. ©Pauleen Cass 1994

Kata Tjuta is all curves as each rocky dune looms against the vivid blue of the desert sky. The contrasting colours are magnificent with the green of the Spinifex looking almost lime-coloured on film and in some light. It provides its own dot-painting effect against the vivid ochre red of the rock formation. Tucked among the rocks are hidden spots where the desert animals can live, survive and even thrive. A quiet bushwalker has the benefit of hearing the birds and may even see some creatures as well.

On the Valley of the Winds walk. ©Pauleen Cass 1994
On the Valley of the Winds walk. ©Pauleen Cass 1994

The track through the Valley of the Winds is peaceful and restorative, as well as tiring! This is certainly an experience best savoured in the cooler months of the year when overnight it can be decidedly chilly, especially in a tent or swag. Those hot summer months (about October to April) are best avoided as most people will find them unbearable. Do plan to hang around at the Olgas towards the end of the day so you can see the setting sun light the dunes with varying shades of pink and red. Just magnificent!

068 Kata Juta moonrise and sunset


Welcome to the garden.
Welcome to the garden.

If you love gardens it’s always worth keeping an eye out for the local Open Gardens events   when you travel – they’re a great Opportunity to see new and different garden designs as well as plants you may not be familiar with.

The 2013 season Open Gardens NT commenced last weekend and we have a feast of Top End gardens to choose from throughout the Dry. It’s one of our favourite weekend activities to visit a garden and have a coffee and cake while soaking up the ambience. You can see my stories and photos from 2012 through this link.

Why visit: To see a unique natural wonder of Australia and the amazing colours, vegetation and animals of the Outback.

FYI: There are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated


On the turps: big drinking session

Old mate: A NT special gradually soaking into the vernacular elsewhere. A generic expression meaning, roughly, bloke, someone you don’t know. So old mate drove his (Land) Cruiser through the creek….

Outback: Australia’s vast interior. The iconic idea of Australia often completely unfamiliar to its many coastal dwellers. The people are typically unemotional and physically tough and laconic.

Ordinary: not the usual meaning of “normal” but also in the Aussie sense can mean sub-par, inferior, not much good. How’re ya going mate? Feeling a bit ordinary today…

I wonder where the letter P will take us tomorrow? How about back into the Kimberley?

16 thoughts on “O is for the Olgas ( Kata Tjuta) and Open Gardens

  1. OUTBACK: Is there any word more relevant to Australia? It conjures so many images, thoughts and feelings in me, especially having grown up in Broken Hill! A question for you…what is the best time of year do you think, to head north to enjoy some of the locations you have been posting about?

    1. Indeed it’s the quintessential Aussie word though many people won’t experience the reality. You’re right up with it coming from Broken Hill. What time of the year?? That can vary depending on how big a Wet we’ve had but this year’s has been pretty ordinary. If you want to see the most places then I would aim for late May into early June. Early May might work but could be unpredictable some years. Of course it’s spectacular to see in the Wet but the places you can get to are severely limited. And in the Centre it’s far too **** hot over Summer. Let me know if you want me to email -or contact via my comments on your blog. Cheers Pauleen

  2. Your open gardens are a bit differentto the ones in the UK, they look bigger for a start ours tens to be in Villages and are peoples back yards. “On the Turps” that’s a new one though maybe I have heard a different version of it.

    1. Yes at least some of our open gardens are on acreage properties so I imagine they’d be very different in scale from village gardens. And yes, I can imagine an alternative expression 😉

  3. “That can vary depending on how big a Wet we’ve had but this year’s has been pretty ordinary.” Which is a perfect example of “ordinary” meaning “not real grouse, mate!”

    1. You’re welcome C B. I assume that our stone structures are due to the extreme age of our continent and its long separation from other places. But then I’m not a geologist 🙂 You haven’t escaped Ayers Rock yet 😉

  4. Looks beautiful. I’ve never toured Australia, but it looks like a place I would indeed enjoy. Nothing beats beautiful nature. A-Z

  5. Hi Pauleen,
    Another fascinating post from you. Referring back to your conversation above with Bill Nicholls, not all the “open gardens” in England are small; in my post K is for Kitchen Gardens I mentioned the National Gardens Scheme which includes some spectacular large private
    gardens plus villages where lots of gardens are open, varying in size from a small patio to several acres. I always encourage visitors to look out for them if they are spending several weeks travelling round England. I had never heard of Spinifex before, there is always something new to learn about plants.

    1. Thanks Lynne…good advice…We’ve taken to visiting gardens while we’re travelling and on our last visit saw some magnificent one including Sissinghurst and another in Kent whose name eludes me right now. Then there’s another of my favourites -Ardkinglas in Argyll where my 2xgreat grandfather lived and worked. You’re so right that they can add a great deal to the pleasure of travelling. Unfortunately we often travel in late autumn and winter when many of the gardens are closed. One of my bucket list items is to see the lavender in Provence -have seen it in Tasmania but something tells me Provence would be better 🙂

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