I like to think of myself as a woman of the world. I’ve travelled a little, and I have big plans to travel a whole lot more.
I want to go to North America and see the Aurora Borealis. I want to see the beaches and islands in Thailand. I would kill to do a week in an Hawaiian resort and when I’m a bit older and a bit wealthier I am going to travel Europe in style. (I’ll stay at the London Ritz, thank you, not the Earl’s Court backpackers.)
But as a learnt recently, I really should have had Central Australia on my list. You simply cannot go without seeing that great Australian icon, Uluru.
If you haven’t seen the sun rise standing on the viewing platform between Uluru and Kata Tjuta then you have missed one of life’s truly magnificent experiences. The sky goes from the blackest of nights through every shade of blue and yellow as the sun slowly lights up the red earth beneath you. In the distance Uluru is in silhouette and next to you are the slowly changing colours of The Olgas, Kata Tjuta. It’s God’s country, that’s for sure.
Speaking of the sky, this city slicker had no idea that you could see the dusty milky way with the naked eye. If you get far enough away from the ambient light, the night sky puts on quite a show. The astronomy lads at the Ayers Rock resort know how to bring the stars to life. I was lucky enough to be guided on my tour of the night time sky by two very knowledgeable astronomers and their very serious telescopes.
Ayers Rock Resort, known as Yulara by the locals, is a great set up. The accommodation options range from back packer hostel to five star hotel with everything in between. There are a full range of dining options (café, the best buffet I’ve ever had, fine dining), a suite of free cultural activities, shops, local art galleries and a gorgeous day spa.
I was lucky enough to be a guest at Sails in the Desert when I visited Uluru. This luxurious hotel was renovated recently and the results are spectacular. Every detail, from the iconic dry river bed motif in the carpet, to the exclusively commissioned light fittings, has been carefully designed for the ultimate outback experience. The pool, the bar and the restaurants are enticing. The staff are welcoming and helpful.
But for your true outback experience, there is nothing that compares to seeing Uluru for the first time.
I knew before I went north that Uluru is a big old rock, but I was not prepared for the sheer magnificence of it. It is a majestic tribute to millennia of geological activity in Australia, and to the continuing culture of the Anangu people, the traditional owners of Uluru. I was dumbfounded by it, caught in speechless moments of wonder staring at this huge red stone rising from the ground.
There’s a bunch of ways to get around the rock. There are bicycles to hire and the ride around the base of the rock takes about two hours. The base walk is a good four walk. Or, you can jump on the back of a Harley Davidson, like I did, and ride around the rock with the wind in your face.
There are guided tours to take of Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and I would highly recommend catching up with the people at SEIT Outback Australia. Our Kata Tjuta guide, Jason, was a great expert on the geology of the rocks and the history of exploration in the area. He also has a funny story or two, including the time someone asked him what we did with the rocks at night time!
The Anangu people ask that you refrain from climbing Uluru, “That’s a really important thing you are climbing. You should not climb. It’s not the real thing about this place. The real thing is listening to everything.”
These wise words ring true for me. The real thing to do at Uluru is to listen to the incredible silence of the country. It’s peaceful to hear nothing but quiet as the freshest breeze you can imagine blows gently through your hair.
I would like to thank the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara people for letting me visit their beautiful country and making it possible for visitors like me to experience a small part of Uluru and Kata Tjuta. I pay my respect to their elders and thank them for their continuing culture and contribution to our community.
Travel to Ayers Rock with Jetstar Australia, flying direct from Melbourne and Sydney. Stay at Sails in the Desert, at the Ayers Rock Resort. Jump on board a Harley Davidson tour of Ayers rock with Uluru Motorcycle Tours. Experience sunrise and breakfast at Uluru and Kata Tjuta with SEIT Outback Australia.
Alys travelled to Uluru courtesy of Jetstar Australia and stayed at Ayers Rock Resort as a guest of Voyages Indigenous Tourism.
Have you visited Central Australia? Do you ever want to holiday there?