Australia: Exploring Uluru in 4 Days
The second destination on our Australian tour was Uluru.
Otherwise known as Ayres Rock, Uluru is in the Northern Territory of Australia. Over 600 million years old, this outstanding area of cultural and natural significance is truly incredible. It is one of the biggest monoliths in the world. And yet I still managed to get off of the plane and completely failed to see it.
My beautiful cousin, V (who you may have read about in our adventures in Sydney), had organised a break for us and our husbands to enjoy a long weekend in the semi-arid centre of Australia.
In terms of local accomodation you have two options:
#1 The hotels set up specially at Yulara, 5km from the rock
#2 Alice Springs, a mere 462km and almost 6 hours drive away.
We opted for Yulara.
Staying at the Desert Gardens Hotel we had a view of Uluru from our rooms, approximately 5km away. Given the cultural significance of Uluru to the Aboriginals, who have leased the land back to the Australian Government for 99 years, the accomodation can not be any closer to the rock.
The first night we were due to go to Uluru and enjoy a barbecue dinner and watch the sunset. Mother nature had other plans. Semi- arid desert is much wetter than you think, and it rained sideways for hours. We strayed out in it, in the hope the barbecue might, somehow, still be on the cards. It rained so hard that I swear it was raining in all directions, including from the ground upwards.
When it became clear that there would be no Uluru that night we retired to our rooms, dried our shoes with the hair dryer, and ordered room service in our pyjamas.
Rising early on my own to check the state of our sodden footwear, I sat on the balcony and watched the sunrise over Uluru.
We spent the day following the walk around the resort, through the natural habitat and using the viewing platforms to enjoy the rock from a distance.
We enjoyed the free theatre at Yulara for a production of Aborignal stories. We then moved onto the ecology and astronomy talks.
That night we boarded a coach and went off to an art installation at the rock itself- the Field of Lights. 50,000 individual glass stems pulse and change colour in front of your eyes. The sight is incredible enough on its own, but we enjoyed an electric storm whilst we were there which grumbled around the background, angry and imposing.
The Field of Light installation has been extended until March 2018 so best book now!
The day we'd all been waiting for!
Up at 5am, with my packed breakfast held tightly in my sweaty paw, we made our way out to Uluru for sunrise. There are two viewing points on a hill directly facing Uluru. The sky gradually lightened and changed the rock face from black to purple and, finally, to orange.
It was so very beautiful and more than a bit magical.
|The photogenic Sydney Siders teaching us how to selfie|
Back on the coach, we committed ourselves to completing the base walk around Uluru. A 10km circuit estimated to take 3.5 hours, we agreed to meet our coach driver back at the drop off point at 12pm.
At the base of Uluru you can join a free ranger guided tour- the Mala Walk. The ranger takes you around part of the base, explaining the cultural significance of the beautiful space you are enjoying, recounting stories of the Mala men. He also explained to us at length how upsetting it can be to the Aboriginals if tourists choose to climb the rock and the number of bodies that he had personally retrieved of ill fated tourists that chose to try anyway.
After our tour ended, we set off solo to venture the base walk. The walk was very quiet, and peaceful, and hot. One benefit of having been drenched to the skin on night one was that the water had poured back off of the rock. Whilst the dramatic waterfalls had finished by the time of our arrival, there was impressive evidence that there had been a significant downpour of water down the rock face.
3 and a half hours later and we arrived back at the bus stop. We then checked the time and realised
that we had missed our coach by hours! After find a spot in the shade, we devoured what was left our of the packed breakfast and pondered our next move.
It transpired that the Cultural Centre was a short walk and there woud be cultural arts, crafts, ice cream and a bus stop. Perfect!
Yulara has it's own camel farm, and so the only sensible option for our last morning in Uluru was a camel ride. Camels are much bigger and more ungainly that I imagined. As a mode of transport, I wouldn't necessarily recommend them. I can only imagine the feeling of riding a camel is akin to sitting on a horse made of broken wood and rage, with knees that face the wrong way.
So that was our experience of Uluru, thanks for reading!