Series of posts celebrating climbers of Ayers Rock.
We met a few mates today
In a town they call The Alice
And so we joked the hours away
And drained the foaming chalice.
Cyril E Goode
This is probably the first Ayers Rock road trip on record. A journey that would be repeated by millions of time limited travellers seeking to get a view, and climb the natural wonder at Australia's heart.
The account of their time at the rock is an enjoyable read and includes climbs by Cyril above Maggie Springs and the three climbing to the summit via the conventional route:
From: Account of a dash to Ayer's Rock by Cyril E. Goode
Roma : Accademia Internazionale Leonardo da Vinci, 1972
PART III: THE CAVE DRAWINGS
After breakfast we walked across to the fig-bound, broken scarp, to inspect the ochre drawings in the caves in the cliff and on the enormous boulders. This jumble has broken away from the lower part of a titanic sheer—hundreds of feet high, hundreds of feet across—which is defined by a deep crevasse, where a shrub has already taken root. A roll of thunder will send it down one of these days! (Further around, a two-hundred-and-fifty-foot slab has speared down.) Even a special article, if unaccompanied by numerous photographs, could give scant idea of the display of Aboriginal art in red, yellow, grey and black in the main cave here. Some are superimposed on pre-historic designs and others run down under the sand-level. Many are involved totemic symbols which have lost their significance though numbers have been deciphered by scientific expeditions ranging from that of Baldwin Spencer of sixty years ago, to more recent ones led by Fellow C. P. MOUNTFORD or Crosbie Morrison.
Then and there, Rex started to make some sketches. Bert got out his water-colours and settled back front of the main section, at the same time saying he intended to do a series of pictures of various aspects of the place. Left to my own resources I began to explore the surface of the rock to the right and noticed the set of steep ridges pitching down into the great fissure that gives rise to Maggie Springs. Finding the surface broken enough to climb with bare feet, enthusiasm gripped me and I found myself going up and up, gaining seventy or eighty feet on every ridge. There are seven ridges, and in this way the summit is gained without any strong sense of the horror of falling. One appears to be climbing in precipitous valleys with always a number of water-falls or basins below except when crossing the ridges, and then it is best riot to look down. I had forgotten to take chalk to mark the descent, and about half way back seemed to be going wrong, so the others directed me from the ground. My feet were bleeding long before the bottom was reached.
That afternoon we drove round to the caves on the other side and inspected several, including the one that is like a vast wave that has been turned to stone just before breaking. Inevitably we found our-selves starting up the so-called "ascent" . . . with the temperature about 110 degrees and a lively breeze blowing. About five hundred feet up, the path is along a narrow spine, having a sheer drop on the inside and a fearsome fall to the scrub line on the outer. Bert was wearing sand-shoes and was out of sight when Rex's shoes started to slip on the scorching surface. I got him to change shoes, as mine had thick rubber soles and then I started down again. When I turned, my diary fell out of my pocket and the wind whisked some loose notes out of it. I managed to clamp it against the rock with one foot . . . a stupid thing to do, perhaps, but when one has kept diaries for twenty-five years, one doesn't like to break the series.
That lucky save made me think that it was not intended that I should be killed mountaineering, so I started up again with a queer crab-like action made necessary by the slippery shoes and sore feet. On reaching the top, the feeling of exultation made everything worthwhile . . . though the sense of tremendous space on all sides, in this rolling ocean of desert, cannot be properly described—at least not in an article of this length. The wild beauty of shimmering Mount Olga twenty miles away has to be seen to be believed. Other points of interest are: the Promised Lands of the mirages; the giant twenty- or thirty-foot corrugations running parallel across the bald surface; the shallow pools made by the recent storms and teeming with life: tadpoles, water-boatmen, mud shrimps and crimson dragonflies; the suicidal chasm leading down to Maggie Springs; the cairn of stones with the jar-full of famous names (Fellow FRANK CLUNE'S was the first I pulled out) . . . all these things repay the climber!
Over two thousand acres of glaring barren rock—no wonder they say to mark the way with chalk so that you will be able to get down again! Searching in this maze of bumps and hollows, we were unable to find the big rock pool, Uluru, sacred in local mythology, and from which the place derived its name in the Dreamtime . . . until Goose discovered it in 1873.
Sadly Rex Ingamells died in a car accident in Western Victoria in December 1955. He was the founder of the Jindyworobak Movement. An Australian literary movement of the 1930s and 1940s that sought to contribute to a uniquely Australian culture through the integration of Indigenous Australian subjects, language and mythology.