Kazetsukai-tsushin "Valley of the Winds in Australia"
(Jananese / English)

Illustrated by Giovanni

A Journey to Valley of the Winds

Where on earth is the place modeled for the Valley of the Winds in the story of "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind"? The question arises the interest of mine, because I've been so much attracted to the story for a long time. It may be difficult or impossible to say that Mr.Miyazaki modelled the particular area for the scenery of the story when he drew it. But guessing from the climate, the environment, and the costume of the story, the atomospehere of it is close to those of the West and Central Asian.

The name of "Valley of the Wind" is, however, can be found on the map of the world, even though someone who named the place as such didn't the least care about the story of Nausicaa. The place called Valley of the Winds exists in the mountains of Olga (Kata Tjuta) near Ayers Rock (Ululu) in central Australia in the Southern Hemisphere. Ayers Rock is said to be the biggest monolith of the earth. Now, the name, Valley of the Winds, was so attractive to me, because I liked to make a journey which is worth going. Then at the beggining of September in 1996, I had a chance to visit there with Mr.Taro who participated in the Hayao Miyazaki Net Worker FC in PC-VAN together.

To Ayers Rock Resort

First of all, the trip to Valley of the Winds is based on Ayres Rock Resort (Yulara Village), because there are no place to stay nearby. The nearest airport, Connellan Airport, is about 5 km far from it. In addition to the direct flights from Cairns and Perth, many other flights via Alice Springs leave from the major cities in Australia for the place. The airlines are Qantas Australia and Ansett Australia.

The long distance buses from Alice Springs are also available, which take us about 6 hours. The merit for using the bus tours is, that you can visit other scenic points around Ayres Rock. We went there by plane, and returned by bus. In this case, most of them start from Alice Springs. If you're interested in it, please consult it.

We flew from Adelaide to Ayres Rock Resort via Alice Springs this time. The lobby of Connellan Airport was lined with the desks of the travel agencies most of whose tours were in connection with Ayres Rock. We checked in at the counter of AAT Kings Company, for it was one of the biggest companies in Australia that we could already arrange the reservation for the tour in Japan. The package tour we selected was called Super Pass, which included the general sightseeing.

This tour cost us A$158, and took us 3 days. The order of the contents of it can be decided when we checked in at the counter.

In Ayres Rock Resort, we basically went sightseeing in the morning and in the evening. We took a rest leisurely during the daytime, because there was too much sun then. During the midday, it got to be pretty hot because there're nothing to shade with. Having sunstroke could sometimes be fatal. We had to always take canteens with us during the tour.

I inform you that, among the above tours, 'Olga Sunset' includes the trip to Valley of the Winds. If you want to go there without joining the package tour, you should rent a car. There are some information desks about rent-a-cars in the airport. For those who think about the cheaper trip, or who are active enough to move during the daytime.

Well, we arrived at Ayres Rock Resort. The cost for the hotels were not so reasonable. If you want to make your stay not too expensive, choose Spinefex Lodge or Outback Pioneer. (The cheapest choice is Camp Site :-P ) Both cost us A$80 for a twin room. And A$20 for a dormitory. It's a matter of taste in choosing which to stay, because Spinefex Lodge is convenient to go to the imformation or supermarkets and Outback Pioneer has an only shop selling takeout alcoholic drinks. We stayed at Spinefex Lodge after all. Mr.Taro, however, walked seven or eight minutes to Outback Pioneer every night to buy alcohol. Inside the Resort, not to speak of the imformation center, there were a supermarket, restaurants, bars, a bank, a post pffice, gift shops and tour desks. I wondered why there's a meeting hall in such a place, but I felt like holding the World Conference of "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" there some day :) Anyway, you won't feel inconvenience there because it equips with everything necessary for living.

We decided the orders of the sightseeing as follows; arrived in the afternoon, Ayres Rock & Sunset Tour in the evening, Ayres Rock Sunrise & Climbing next morning, and Olaga Sunset Tour which included the visit to Valley of the Winds that evening.

Here, I mention about the climate of Australia. We visited there in September and it was early spring. But we didn't feel the season especially. It' as hot as early summer during the daytime, though it was as cold as late autumn during the nighttime. I rememenbered we're in the midst of the continent. Warm clothes are neccesary when you join the sunrise and sunset tour, because we have to leave early in the morning and come back late in the afternoon. But during the daytime, the temperature goes higher and higher by the strong sunlight. You'd better avoid visiting there in summer (it's winter in Japan).

One more thing we heard was that there were so many flies in summer that we needed nets to avoid them. We didn't have any problems about flies this time.

Olga Sunset Tour & Going to Valley of the Winds

It was in the evening on the second day that we joined the Olga Sunset Tour. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the bus of AAT Kings Company came to pick us up at the back entrance of Spinefex Lodge. They surely came to pick us up, if you told them the name of the lodges you stayed at when you checked in the tour. They went round all of the hotels to pick up their guests, and left for Olga mountains. I wonder why we're first to be picked up and last to be dropped off. Is it because we stayed at the cheaper inn? Anyway, it was 20km far to Ayres Rock and 50 km far to Olga from there. Both of them were in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and we needed to show the visitors' pass. Its cost was A$10, but it was included in the charge of the tour then. Go straight on and on along the reddish brown earth toward Olga, and it finally turned up. It's not a monolith like Ayres Rock, but forms one huge mass of rocky hills. Just along the canyon down below, several promnades were constructed, one of which took us to Valley of the Winds.

We got off the bus at the parking area and took a canteen there. Besides canteens, we should be fully prepared for sunburning with hats and sunscreens throughout the year in Australia. Then, a guide gave us a simple explanation for the tour in front of the guideboard. It undoubtedly says "Valley of the Winds". Oh, great! The name itself moved us :) The visitors always saw around there with the guide. Some of the tours are guided by those who speak Japanese. If you're eager to have Japanese guidance, it's all right to utilize such services. But you need extra charges, and remember they never talk about the story of Nausicaa :-P The tour we joined took us about two and a half hours walk along the trail and go back from Valley of the Winds. It's about 6 km long. Besides it, there's another 8-km walk all the way round the canyon through Valley of the Winds. It was only natural for us to try the latter way, because we two had already walked around the foot of Ayers Rock for 9 km that morning and still vigorous enough. For the venture, we needed not to be noticed by the guide because he would make us stop if he's aware of us going so fast. Then we gradually walked further from him while he paid his attention to the following older people. After having succeeded in losing him, we aimed at the valley over the gently-sloping hill.

We walked on and on along the path which was covered with the reddish brown sands and loose rocks. Regular sneakers will do for walking because the road doesn't slope so steepy. Then after walking across a hill, the path took us to a rather flat open space. Then, we crossed a small bridge and arrived at the starting point of the round trail. The river below the bridge was all dried up. Now, we're going to get into the canyon finally by circling the path counterclockwise.

The width of the path at the bottom of the canyon was as narrow as 50 meters. The cliffs of the both sides were about 300 meters high. The place we walked was like a wood. It should be a good environment for plants to grow because the rainwater was easy to stand and slow to evaporate there. We went along the cliff of the reft side. We sometimes found traces of falls on these rocky cliffs. It rains for only a few days a year there, and such falls were formed then. A big amount of water streamed down on the surface of the rocks without blocked for a very short time. I enjoyed imagining the wild scenary. It was getting colder because it was already evening and the sun was setting. The cliffs were to block the sunlight. Only I could heard was the sound of the branches of the trees swayed in the wind. The complete silence dominates the whole space in contrast with the magnificent view. I did recognize how noisy my ordinary life was. The canyon was getting narrower. I overlapped this path and the way which goes into the Valley of the Winds in the story of Nausicaa. Then the path wound sharp to the reft. A view I longed for opened out in front of me.

" Here we are in Valley of the Winds..."

A place called Valley of the Winds rose as if it dammed up the gorge before the canyon. We could see the rocky mountains of Olga far beyond, and the path was going down further. It certainly had a different environment from that of Nausicaa story's, and it was quite smaller, too. But the view itself was good enough. It reminds me of the very first scene of the film of Nausicaa. She flew down to the valley with meve ahead of Yupa. I alomost heard the voice of hers; " Sir.Yupa, will you please take it there? I can't fly well because of the turbulent air!"

We walked through the valley almost runnig down. Looking back, the height of the cliffs stood out. Just then, the wind blew down intensely. I did understand why it's called Valley of the Winds.

We got to the opposite place to the starting point for some time. It was surrounded by the rocky mountains. Then we went back to the starting point by walking another halfway of the trail counterclockwise. All the walking took us one hour and forty minutes. Then, we walked another fifteen minutes after crossing over the gently-sloping hill again, and came back to the parking area. Here we could finish the tour to visit Valley of the Winds successfully. Good job!

The tour itself contained the BBQ dinner after seeing the reddish brown Olga beautiful in the setting sun that evening. Star gazing followed BBQ. The stars were quite worth to gaze. We didn't have any artificial lights around there, and it got to be a pitch-dark night after the sunset. Then it's difficult for us to tell even each other's faces. It was pity that it's not so good for gazing stars that night because of the shining moon. But I was fully satisfied to see a star-filled sky after a long time. How long has it been since I saw such a clear Milky Way last time? It, however, was so difficult for us to tell the constellations because we usually lived in the Northern Hemisphere. Can you imagine the Scorpion just above our heads, and Altair and Vega in the north sky? If you try to gaze stars earnestly, take a star chart with you. Or you can buy it there.

After finishing the tour to Valley of the Winds

That's how we had a trip to seek for Valley of the Winds, the hometown of Nausicaa. But I don't think it ideal for the fans of Nausicaa. You'd better think "I don't need any reason for what I'm doing." :) I rather recommend you to go both Ayres Rock and Valley of the Winds. Anyway, the solemn silence I experienced there remains quite impressive.

Traveling makes the stories of the travelers' own. It is up to each person what he sees in Valley of the Winds. It may be the wonderful nature as the outback of Australia, or be the story of Nausica :)

This trip was only the beginning. Next time, I'd like to visit where I can see Nausicaa smiling in the scenery. Oh, if you know such a grate place, will you tell me of it secretly please ? :)

All articles and photos are written and taken by Giovanni (giovanni@mt.cs.keio.ac.jp)
and translated into English by Hiroe Suzuki

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