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Royal tour 2014: Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit Uluru

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Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
during a sunset walk at Uluru. Click for more photos

Royal Australian tour - Day 7

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge during a sunset walk at Uluru. Photo: Wolter Peeters

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Jenna Clarke:  

The sun has officially, and literally, set on day seven of William and Kate's visit to Australia.

Tonight they'll camp out under the stars, albeit in a luxury tent which will set you or I back about $1100 per night.

Tomorrow they will head to Adelaide, and we'll be joining them live from the City of Elizabeth.

Daisy Dumas:  

There are few more special views than a sunset at the soaring sandstone icon of Uluru. 

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge indulged in a rare moment of one-one-time on their Australia tour, albeit before the world's media, on Tuesday as they took in the red centre's most famous view. 

They appeared relaxed, chatting and smiling as the sun began to slip behind the Olgas. 

The moment was not quite as romantic as it might have been, thanks to the focused lenses and crowds at the end of the viewing spot. 

As the royal couple approached the same school children they had met at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre earlier in the afternoon, William called out a loud "Hello," before declaring of the sunset photo opp: "That was interesting."

"We were just saying 'How are you doing that?'" came one of the Northern Territory seniors reply, with a laugh. 

The couple stayed to have a private chat and drink with the teens at the picturesque spot.

The sunset moment was not expected on the official tour schedule. 

The couple are expected to "glamp" under the stars for their rare date night away from Prince George. 

Day seven of the Australian leg of the royal tour will end as soon as the sun goes down.

Day seven of the Australian leg of the royal tour will end as soon as the sun goes down. Photo: Daisy Dumas

The royal couple preparing to watch the sun set over Uluru.

The royal couple preparing to watch the sun set over Uluru. Photo: Daisy Dumas

Jenna Clarke:  

After a busy afternoon and a lot of walking (in wedge heels for Kate), the couple are now settling in to witness an Uluru sunset.

Daniel Flitton:  

Meanwhile, during a forum where he called for Labor party reforms in Melbourne today, committed republican and Labor leader Bill Shorten was challenged to commit the next Labor government to a legislative timetable for a republic.

While he declared many Australians are yet be convinced of the need for a local head of state, Mr Shorten conceded the ‘‘lovely visit’’ of royal couple Kate and William, and their baby George, is winning Australian hearts and minds.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten says the Australian head of state should be Australian.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten says the Australian head of state should be Australian. Photo: Pat Scala

AAP:  

Prince William and Kate chatted soccer, rugby union and mathematics in a relaxed and animated encounter with nine Northern Territory high school children from some of the most remote schools in Australia.

At an afternoon tea hosted by Mr Giles, Australia's first indigenous head of government, William at one point joked about his lack of mathematical skills.

After Mr Giles invited the eight girls and one boy to do a question and answer session with the duke and duchess, the prince said, laughing, “just don't ask me about Pythagoras”.

Erin Keeley, from Nhulunbuy High School on the north eastern tip of the Territory, talked about her studies with the duchess.

Following the sudden death of her mother earlier this year, she wants to be a social worker.

After speaking for several minutes with Kate about her future, the duchess said, “Really good luck with your studies.”

When the girls asked to be in a photograph with the royal couple, William responded in a self deprecating manner, “Well if you don't mind having a photograph with us.”

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
during a sunset walk at Uluru. Click for more photos

Royal Australian tour - Day 7

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge during a sunset walk at Uluru. Photo: Wolter Peeters

The duchess arrived in the Northern Territory wearing a simple Roksanda Ilincic shift dress.

The duchess arrived in the Northern Territory wearing a simple Roksanda Ilincic shift dress.

Jenna Clarke:  

Judging by Kate's demure fashion choices over the past few days, one gets the feeling the Palace is trying to hose down the focus on her style and the "Kate effect" which essentially breaks the internet and steals the headlines.

Interestingly, on Sunday, the one time Prince George came out to play, she was wearing "a designer who didn't wish to be named". It was a savvy sartorial decision which ensured it was the family, not her frock that was in the spotlight.

We are seeing a similar maneuver today for their visit to some of Australia's most remote and revered regions. So far she has worn two dresses, one of which she has been spotted in before and cost no more than $300. 

Kate's style today has been described by the Daily Mirror's royal reporter Victoria Murphy as "quite plain", however she still tottering around in heels. The duchess stepped off the plane in her trademark nude pumps but is now walking around the national park in a pair of wedges.

Daisy Dumas:  

A group of elderly Anangu women and men from Mutitjulu sat less than a metre from the royals' feet at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre as they formally acknowledged the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's arrival to their land.

They sang songs and beat clapping sticks, or punu sticks, while bare breasted women slowly danced and thumped their feet on the dry ground.

Catherine had made a wardrobe change from her arrival dress into a Hobbs grey and white summer dress, sensibly ditching the heels for a pair of wedges, which in moments became caked in red dust.

A boy from the community presented the couple with a basket of Mala poo paper paintings - surely one of the tour's less likely gifts. The couple appeared to enjoy the display, asking questions of their hosts and admiring their gifts, which also included a carved wooden (punu) shield.

The slow moving, even sun-drowsy dance was performed by just two elderly women and one man, their chests painted in bold patterns. The dances are considered an honour for the elderly to perform. 

Sharon Davies of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park said inma can be much larger affairs. 

"A lot of people have been passing away so it's getting smaller and smaller," said Ms Davies. 

Catherine spoke with a group of elderly Anangu women before moving to the fireside, the fragrant bloodwood smoke filing the small spectator area.

Loud laughter went up from Catherine when William made a joke about a wooden snake that sat near the fire.

The duke and duchess then headed into the cultural centre for tea with the Chief Minister for the Northern Territory Adam Giles.  

The Anangu Welcome to Country ceremony at Uluru.

The Anangu Welcome to Country ceremony at Uluru. Photo: Daisy Dumas

Daisy Dumas:  

Kate is wearing a more sensible pair of wedges having ditched the stiletto nude patent numbers.

They have quickly become caked in dust.

Daisy Dumas:  

A privilege for this reporter to watch an Anangu Welcome to Country ceremony at Uluru.

The duke and duchess have accepted gifts from the indigenous community, including those famous mala poo paper paintings, and are sitting in the shade of a wiltja, as women elders perform a slow dance to the sound of singing and the beat of punu sticks.

The Anangu Welcome to Country ceremony at Uluru.

The Anangu Welcome to Country ceremony at Uluru. Photo: Daisy Dumas

Daisy Dumas:  

Kate and Will arrive at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta cultural centre for a Welcome to Country ceremony and tea with the NT Chief Minister.

Dress number two for the duchess as their NT tour continues.

Dress number two for the duchess as their NT tour continues. Photo: Daisy Dumas

Jenna Clarke:  

William and Kate have just arrived at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Kate has had an outfit change, she's wearing what looks like a white and grey check print sun dress by British high-street label Hobbs. 

US comedienne Mindy Kaling was dressing like Kate before Kate was.

US comedienne Mindy Kaling was dressing like Kate before Kate was. Photo: Instagram

Jenna Clarke:  

It turns out the former commoner-turned-princess Kate Middleton is taking her style cues for the Australian leg of the tour from popular comediennes not her grandmother-in-law.

Over the weekend, the duchess stepped out in Brisbane wearing a white LK Bennett cotton pencil dress covered in blue poppies.

The $440 frock promptly sold out, however one woman who was ahead of the "replikate" curve was The Mindy Project star Mindy Kaling, who wore the dress while filming early last week before boasting about it on social media.

"Of course Mindy Kaling and Kate Middleton are fashion twins," our friends over at Daily Life tell us, check out the story behind Mindy's post here.

Jenna Clarke:  

While William and Kate make their way (hopefully in air conditioned comfort) to an afternoon tea hosted by Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, here are some of the latest photos just in from our Fairfax photographers travelling with them in the top end.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
during a sunset walk at Uluru. Click for more photos

Royal Australian tour - Day 7

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge during a sunset walk at Uluru. Photo: Wolter Peeters

AAP:  

The royal visit has generated huge interest among the local Anangu people, the traditional owners of the rock, evoking memories of the sentimental journey made there by Prince William's parents, Charles and the then Princess Diana, in 1983 on their first trip to Australia together.

Then a baby, Prince William accompanied them on the tour - but not to Uluru - and some of the traditional owners who will meet the Cambridges today are hoping that one day his son, George, will become the next king-in-waiting to see the rock.

William and Kate will walk to the base of the sacred monolith this afternoon, guided by Anangu man Sammy Wilson.

Bessie Nipper, 42, will have her artwork presented to the couple, hopefully to be hung in George's nursery back home in the UK.

"I would love to see them accept it as a present," she said.

AAP:  

After receiving her certificate from Catherine, Jasmine Jingles, 19, of Mornington Island, Queensland, said she was thrilled. "It's amazing, deadly as," she enthused.

Francis Oba, 23, of the Torres Strait, was wished good luck for his future by Prince William.

Clutching his certificate, he said: "This is really great ... we're touched they came so far to be here."

The duke, dressed casually in an open-necked shirt, his sleeves rolled up, was presented with a 2m hunting spear to make his visit to the academy.

Kate said she was thrilled to receive a hand-painted bracelet made of seed, which she immediately donned.

Daisy Dumas:  

William seemed more bothered by the flies than Kate did, batting them away as he spoke with locals and asked where they were from and how big Yulara was. Catherine appeared calm and unflustered despite the heat - and no hat.

Daisy Dumas:  

William tells the crowd he is "melting" in the heat. It's tipped to reach 33C here.

The 33 degree heat is creating a royal flush.

The 33 degree heat is creating a royal flush. Photo: Daisy Dumas

Daisy Dumas:  

The duchess tells some girls that they look so pretty in their dresses after asking them how their Easter break was.

Another day, another bouquet for everyone's favourite princess.

Another day, another bouquet for everyone's favourite princess. Photo: Daisy Dumas

Daisy Dumas:  

Awards are being handed out to graduates of the national indigenous training academy, which prepares indigenous locals for roles in the area's hospitality and services industries. Catherine and William presented each award, shaking the hands of graduates in front of a bank of media that was almost as large as the well-wishing crowd.

Jenna Clarke:  

The beautiful shifting light of the Territory is making it hard to pin point what the exact colour of Kate's dress is today. It's not mauve, it's not latte, English Lavender perhaps?

Got to love a couple that colour coordinates.

Got to love a couple that colour coordinates. Photo: Daisy Dumas

Jenna Clarke:  

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have arrived at Uluru.

Kate, dressed in a sleeveless lavender colour Roksanda Ilincic number and William, in chinos and a short-sleeved shirt, will face 33C temperatures, as they undertake a number of engagements - including a walk at the base of the rock.

The couple left Canberra about 11am and touched down at Yulara airport at 1.30pm (AEST).  

The Cambridges will meet Northern Territory school students at an afternoon tea, and present certificates at an indigenous training academy.

They will also do a base walk around Uluru, and hopefully will be able to experience the silence of the desert.

Prince George is not with them.

Daisy Dumas:  

The temperature is about 31C today - and humidity is just 5 per cent. The ground is bone dry, but greener than usual, thanks to recent rainfall, setting shrubs and wild flowers alight with verdant growth. Locals tell me it's rare to see Uluru looking so green and lush. 

No flies on her! If there's one thing Uluru's Chinese tourists in their full fly-net hats can vouch for, it is that the area is not short of a fly or two. They are everywhere. We can't help wondering what Catherine will do to stop the incessant shoo fly motion from ruining photographs. Or perhaps she won't even think about it. 

Crowds in the hot, hot sun at the National Indigenous Training Academy.

Crowds in the hot, hot sun at the National Indigenous Training Academy. Photo: Daisy Dumas

Jenna Clarke:  

This will be William's second visit to the Red Centre. He was last here as a 9-month-old in 1983 with his parents, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.

It is unlikely that history will repeat itself today though, as it's beileved Prince George is staying behind in Canberra while William and Kate will enjoy a night of glamping under the stars at the Longitude 131 resort, which is the closest accommodation to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. All 15 luxury suites - which all face the famed rock - are booked out for April 22.

You too can experience the same royal treatment in one of the tents, reservation rates start from $1100 per night, twinshare.

Daisy Dumas:  

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will arrive in the Northern Territory at about 1.35pm. Their busy afternoon schedule includes a visit to the National Indigenous Training Academy, tea with Northern Territory dignitaries and a guided walk at Uluru with Anangu land owners. Prince George is not expected to make the trip with his parents. 

Barbara Nipper, grandmother and indigenous elder, has painted dot paintings to gift to the royal couple. The paintings have been made on Mala poo paper, quite literally made of the faeces of the Rufous hare-wallaby - surely one of the less likely gifts of the couple's Australian tour. 

Barbara is expected to meet the royal couple at Uluru later in the afternoon.

"I've seen her on TV, I've seen the news about her," Barbara said of Catherine in her native Pitjantjatjara language, via interpretor Kathy Tozer. "I'd like them to accept it as a present."

Barbara, who lives in Mutitjulu and does not know her age, has also made a batwing coral seed and quandong seed necklace. 

"I'd like to give it to William, the young fella," she said. 

Barbara Nipper's daughter Bessie, 42, helped create the artwork, which includes images of a family making tea around a fire, children playing, traditional shelters, or wiltja, eating witchetty grubs and two women with sticks, collecting bowls, sitting by a water hole. 

The paintings were made two weeks ago. The paper, made especially for the occasion, has been spruced up with the addition of a sprinkling of glitter.

The area's cultural significance is woven into indigenous dreamtime stories, which Barbara said she hopes to be able to share with Catherine and William.

Her grandson, Vincent Nipper, 35, spoke in Pitjantjatjara about the cultural significance of the royal visit to Uluru.

"This place, Uluru, has got extremely important traditional lore and story and culture. The storylines come from all over the country it's not just the one creation lore here, the lines and the people connected to them come from the west south east and north that means there are a lot of people related to the traditional lore of the place."

Daisy Dumas:  

It's not often that you have a morning jog on deep red sand with a view of Uluru. It's even less often that you have a lively dingo as a running partner, inquisitive and leaping about my path, weaving around my legs and curiously coming close then backing off. I hastily made my way back to the nearest tarmac road, being a complete wimp. 

The world's media have descended on the sleepy Red Centre, leaving many of the majority Chinese visitors none the wiser. Police presence is also very high, though there is a sense that spiritual Uluru is always blissfully isolated from the rest of the world, no matter how high profile its visitors. 

The royals are expected to stay the night at Uluru, possibly treating themselves to a night in one of its exclusive glamping spots. They are not expected to bring baby Prince George on what might well be a romantic date night under the stars. 

Since Monday evening all eyes of the world media have been on Uluru, and today there are cameras as far as the eye can see.

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Uluru under Royal media siege

With the imminent arrival of the Duke and Duchess Cambridge, natives of Uluru are bracing themselves for the media storm that has hit the area.

PT0M48S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-37141 620 349

Jenna Clarke:  

Welcome to day seven of the royal tour, today William and Kate will visit Uluru in the Northern Territory. Our roving royal reporter Daisy Dumas will be bringing you live updates from the Red Centre.

But first, here's a recap of what the royals have been up over the Easter break:

Day 6: Prince William, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Baby George arrive in Canberra

Day 5: Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attend Easter Sunday service and Taronga Zoo with George

Day 4: Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit Brisbane

Day 3: Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge visit Royal Easter Show and Manly Beach