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Friday, April 20, 2007

Foto Friday: Many Heads Are Better Than One

The Olgas/Kata Tjuta, Northern Territory, Australia, Aug. 2000The Olgas/Kata Tjuta
Northern Territory, Australia, Aug. 2000

This rock formation is similar to, and a shortish drive from, Uluru/Ayers Rock. As I recall, on the road between them there's some sort of observation platform you can climb to get a look from afar. The native name is Kata Tjuta -- Many Heads -- but European explorers named the primary peak Mt. Olga (and therefore the collection became "The Olgas") in honor of Olga, Queen of Württemberg.

Actually, Mt. Olga was originally named Mt. Müller[1], after German-Australian scientist Ferdinand Müller, but Müller requested that the name be changed to honor the queen. According to Wikipedia, (WARNING! Wikipedia!) there was a little quid pro quo, in that Müller gave up the mountain and got a title instead, and the right to add von to his name, becoming Ferdinand von Müller.

It's obvious that Olga never saw a representation of the mountains, or she would have given it a second thought. The viewer's first reaction, on learning that these hummocks are "the Olgas", is to wonder what part of Olga they are meant to resemble. Most unfortunate.

These things mesmerize me, producing that familiar itch: "What's over there? What is that? Let's go see..." They're far more fascinating to me than Uluru, which is just a big ol' rock. I wish we'd had another day or so in the area to explore the Olgas. There's a three hour walking tour ("A three hour tour!") you can take, but we got there an hour before sunset on our last day, and I didn't feel like hiking.

This was scanned from a print, but I posted it anyway because I love the colors -- the dark sky and layered clouds, the golden grass, and the many-colored shadows on the hills.

Here's the national park site.

[1]Actually, he gave the King of Spain a lake, and the Queen of Württemberg a mountain, but accounts differ as to whether it was originally supposed to be Lake Ferdinand and Mt. Müller, or Mt. Ferdinand and Lake Müller. Do you care? I don't. But I do care that the Sydney Morning Herald link I posted above believes that Olga was Queen of Spain. No, Amadeus of Spain got the lake (now Lake Amadeus).

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