Sydney (AFP) Jan 16, 2010
Heavy rains which flooded parts of Australia's vast desert centre have brought rare waterfalls spilling from the iconic monolith Uluru, or Ayers Rocks, officials said Saturday.
The deluge, which swept across much of the continent's east after a tropical cyclone last month, prompted a wave of green in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, home to the giant red rock.
"It's something that a lot of people actually wouldn't experience, seeing the park at this time of year when it is green and the plants are really shooting and the flowers are coming out," said park manager Christine Burke.
"It's a very exciting time at the park now to see what happens after we have a good rain and it looks beautiful," she told state radio.
Situated near the centre of the semi-arid Sturt Desert, Uluru typically receives little more than 12 inches of rain a year, and January is its hottest, driest month, with temperatures topping to 45 degrees Celsius (113 F).
Conditions are overcast, on average, just five days of the year.
Uluru is a sacred part of Aboriginal tribes' creation mythology and one of the nation's most recognisable landmarks.
Australia is currently mulling a ban on climbing the rock on cultural and safety grounds. Signs at the site ask people not to climb it out of respect for the Aboriginal community, but one-third of the 350,000 annual visitors still do so.
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Largest religious festival on Earth under way in India
Haridwar, India (AFP) Jan 14, 2010
Close to a million Hindu pilgrims bathed in India's holy river Ganges on Thursday in an immense display of colour and devotion at the start of the world's biggest religious festival. Braving chilly weather, hordes of pilgrims rose before sunrise in and around the northern town of Haridwar and walked in darkness to the banks of the river to immerse themselves in the sacred waters. For the ... read more
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