Chasing waterfalls in the desert - Australia Unseen

Chasing waterfalls in the desert

Uluṟu and Kata Tjuṯa are iconic landmarks that many visitors flock to see at sunrise and sunset, but few are fortunate enough to experience the mystical beauty of these natural wonders after a heavy downpour. The rich hues of the red rock formations coupled with the cascading waterfalls create an atmosphere that is truly unforgettable.

Although rain can fall at any time, the wet season between November and March is the best time to witness the magic of Uluṟu in the rain. However, unexpected rains can occur at any time, as I experienced during my visit in April, when ex-cyclone Ilsa brought more than 22mm of rain in just 24 hours. Only a fraction of the visitors to Uluṟu get to witness the falls, making the experience all the more special.


I woke up just before sunrise. The sky was pitch black, and I knew that the sunrise would not offer any photographic opportunities. However, I was determined to explore the area and go chasing waterfalls in the desert. My first stop was Muṯitjulu Waterhole, where the rain had created a moody and atmospheric environment, despite the lack of water falling down the rock at that point.


As a photographer known for capturing beaches and rock pools, shooting in the rain was a new challenge for me.  It’s a different set of mind. You have to embrace the shades of greys, the darkness. I’m not here for the typical postcard. 

After an hour of exploring, I made my way to Mala Puta, where the magic of Uluṟu in the rain began to unfold before me. A small stream had turned into a powerful waterfall, and as I drove around to the west side of the rock, I was amazed to see waterfalls everywhere. Puddles of water made some walks impassable, and the temperature had dropped dramatically from 34 degrees the day before to a chilly 9 degrees. Unprepared tourists wearing flip flops and wet sneakers were arriving in numbers. I was drenched, but the spectacular sight before me was worth it.


I continued my exploration to Kaṉji Gorge, where I walked up to the base of the most amazing waterfall. The atmosphere was surreal, and I felt privileged to be able to witness such a sight. The desert came alive with vibrant colours, breathing new life into the arid landscape. Within half an hour, the waterfalls had disappeared, almost as magically as they had appeared  but the memories and photos were forever etched in my mind. By midday, there was not a cloud in the sky, and the desert returned to its usual dry state.


I was fortunate enough to spend three days at Uluṟu, and I was able to witness two very different weather conditions. I captured the magic of Uluṟu in the rain, as well as the familiar desert landscape that drew me there in the first place.


As I left Uluṟu, I couldn't help but feel grateful for the unexpected experience of photographing the rock and its waterfalls in the rain. It reminded me that sometimes the best moments in life are the ones that catch us off guard, the ones that challenge us to see things in a different light. The moody and atmospheric landscape in the rain was a far cry from the sunny and vibrant desert I had expected, but it was just as stunning in its own way. And I felt lucky to have witnessed such a rare and breathtaking event at one of the world's most iconic landmarks.

Vincent Rommelaere

Discover the Uluṟu print collection here.