Uluru – Ayers Rock

Uluru

There is something magical about the sheer presence of Uluru. Its size and ancient links with the aboriginals are awesome as are the changing colors especially at sun rise.

We stored our bags at the Westin, taking only what we needed for a few days at Uluru. The flight from Sydney to Uluru is about 3 1/2 hours. Uluru or Ayers Rock, is a massive sandstone monolith in the heart of the Northern Territory’s Red Centre, the geographic center of Australia. It is 1340 miles from Sydney to Uluru, as the crow flies. Add 400 mile if you drive. The view on decent was incredible.

Uluru means ‘Earth Mother’, and the vast 8.6 square kilometre rock is believed to hold a powerful energy source and marks the place where dreamtime began. It is sacred to the indigenous Australians and believed to be about 700 million years old. It is within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which also encompasses the 36 red-rock domes of “The Olgas” formation.

Sails in the Desert

We arrived in the afternoon. We checked in at Sails in the Desert. Sails in the Desert is located at the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, an 8-minute drive from the airport. Clifton enjoyed some downtime by the pool and Allan and I explored the resort. Mulgara Gallery opens a window into the unique world of Australian and Indigenous arts and crafts. We also strolled through the native gardens.

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Sunset and sunrise at Uluru are simply magical. From the resorts numerous lookouts you can view some of the most amazing Australian sunsets and sunrises with the colors playing across the face of Uluru and the surrounding desert. Allan and I enjoyed a stunning sunset and Clifton and I got up early to photograph a spectacular sunrise. The shadows and colors are unique to each time of day.

Sounds of Silence Dinner

Our first night we booked the Sounds of Silence Dinner. Uluru was directly  in front of us and the sun was setting to our right over the Olgas. Two great views. We sipped champagne as the sun set over Uluru and the Olgas. We shared our table and conversation with a couple from Sydney and promised to keep in touch. White linen table cloths, silver service and hurricane lamps added to the ambience. Soup was served at the table, while the main course was a self service buffet. After dinner the candles that lit the tables were extinguished and we were asked to switch off phones and cameras. After the meal there is the opportunity to enjoy the “sound of silence”, and it really is silent. An astronomer gave a short gazing talk and there was a telescope set up, trained on certain stars and constellations, with the stargazer on hand to tell you what you are looking at. I wish there had been more telescopes. That said, the star gazing was magnificent. We had an incredible view of the Southern Cross.

Sipping Champagne. The sounds of a didgerdoo. The sun setting behind us reflects on Uluru changing the rock from red to a pinkish-purplish hue. When the lights go out, the stars of the Southern Hemisphere are breathtaking!  “I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars make me dream.” Vincent Van Gogh

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Uluru and The Olgas From the Air

The next day we booked a scenic flight in a fixed wing aircraft. A perfect way to see the entire region and get it into perspective as to how magnificent it is. Seeing Uluru and The Olgas from the air was breathtaking. We also saw camels running across the outback.

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Camel Ride

Later that afternoon we did Uluru Camel Tours, the largest camel farm in Australia, home to over 60 friendly camels. Central Australia is home to approximately 700,000 wild camels and supports a thriving camel industry. We rode two to a camel. Clifton and I rode together and Allan was paired with another rider. We made a number of stops to take pictures and our cameleer was happy to take photos of us on our camels. Amazing views of Uluru and the Olgas as you ride away from the crowds and ride through the red sand dunes. You have an opportunity to experience the desert in a way that is impossible elsewhere in Uluru.

Back at the camel farm, where we dismounted and went inside to warm ourselves up with fresh beer bread, tea and coffee.

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Uluru – Ayers Rock

The next day we visited Uluru. We decided to explore Uluru on our own. We took the Uluṟu Express to and from Ayers Rock Resort to Uluru. We did not walk the entire base of Uluru, but rather did the Mala walk. We saw everything on this walk, a watering hole, caves, cave paintings and. Uluru is huge and when you walk the base you see it up close and personal. We definitely got a different perspective when walking the base, it’s truly amazing! Informative signage is available at a number of locations along the trail for viewers in relation to numerous points of interest.

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There were many areas and views of the rock we did not photograph. There were signs saying “no photos please from here forward.” Many of the areas are considered sacred.

Australia is massive. To put it in perspective, Australia is about the size of the continental US.  Many visitors to Australia don’t have 3 or 4 weeks to spend and end up skipping Uluru, choosing to spend their time on the east coast. The east coast is amazing. Cairns. The Great Barrier Reef. The Whitsundays. Cape Tribualtion. Coogee Beach. Bondi Beach. Sydney. All must sees. So is Uluru. The Red Center is where you experience the Outback, the real vastness and dramatic landscapes that are unique to Australia. I highly recommend carving out 3 days to experience Uluru. Our departure back to the US was to Sydney, so we flew to Ulura from Sydney at the end of our trip. Uluru takes your breath away.

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