We visited Uluru for the first time in July.

You must experience this place.

If I were you, I’d wait till the winter.  I note it’s 39 degrees today in Yulara and I don’t know that I want to be out in the middle of the Australia for that sort of carry on.

We flew from Sydney on a rainy Friday morning.  It was cold and miserable.image

Driving the Nullarbor Plain is the only real way to get a true perspective of the size and scale of this country, but flying over the red centre goes part the way there.  It’s called the red centre, because it’s very red…and it’s in the centre.

I had this perception that Uluru and Alice Springs were within a stones throw and, I don’t know why, but I always had this belief that if you were flying to Uluru that you flew into Alice Springs.  Of course you don’t.  You fly into Ayers Rock airport.  It’s a stupid little airport in the middle of nowhere.  We got our rental car sorted and drove the 10kms or so to the little township Yulara.

imageYulara is a made up town.  It’s not real. It’s similar to a town that was created for a movie set, but this one was created absolutely and completely for the tourists flocking to see Uluru and Kata Tjuta….that’s what we used to know as the Olgas.  So it’s a bunch of hotels and apartments scattered around a circular road with associated touristy shops, a supermarket, a post office and some eating houses.  You can see the rock in the distance from the township.

One of the first things that strikes you is just how red the earth is. You’d swear they’ve artificially coloured the dust, but they haven’t.

This is desert country, but not in the classic Sahara sense.  The open spaces are full of low shrubs and trees.

After unloading our stuff, we drove off to pay homage to this icon of Australia.

It’s amazing.

imageAmazing for so many reasons.  It sits in the middle of this dead flat plain with nothing around it and rises out of the red dust with an authority that comes from the dream time.  It looks completely different in colour depending on the time of the day and the position of the clouds.

You can’t fully understand this country until you’ve stood before this monolith in all it’s glory.  This is so far removed from the hustle and bustle of George Street, from the high rise jungle of the Gold Coast and quiet streets of Canberra. This rock speaks to you without words. It holds onto many secrets.  Uluru is about our indigenous heritage, it’s about the vast size of the country and the pure power of mother earth. It’s full of mystique and magic.  You could look at this rock for hours….and I think we did.  We viewed it first from the sunset viewing area with about 300 others on the first afternoon before heading back to Yulara.

On day 2 we went out to see the sunrise at Uluru. Unbelievable ! I feel it would be a more magical experience without the 600 or others around us at the Sunrise viewing platform, but it doesn’t detract much  from the event.  For nearly everyone there it seems like a religious experience and it doesn’t really matter what is your religion of choice.  Sunrise at Uluru is spiritual.  It’s also very bloody cold in July.  Jackets are a must.image

 

After some shopping and other activities in Yulara we headed off to Kata Tjuta.  It’s not far. You can see it from Uluru. In total, I think a 50km drive. The kids will get bored, but you won’t.

Kata Tjuta is wonderfully majestic in an Uluru sort of way, but you can tell that it holds onto different secrets.  We made the call to climb through it. So glad we did.  It’s a somehwhat challenging climb, particularly near the end, but well worth it.  Not as many tourists as at Uluru, but still a good number.image

On the second night we did a star watching activity arranged by the resort next door. In the middle of Australia you can see stars as well as you can anywhere in the world and it was most informative and entertaining.

On day 3…..we’d run out of things to do.

And if anything, this is my word of warning about Uluru. If you’re taking children, you wouldn’t want to stay anymore than 2 nights.  I could look at the rock for 4 or 5 hours, 5 days in a row. Your kids won’t be so entranced.  They’ll just be bugging you about the wi-fi.

We ended up going for a run to Alice Springs. Unless you really like driving, I wouldn’t recommend it.

imageIt’s 450kms from Yulara to Alice Springs.  Now, granted some of the way has a 130km/h speed limit and for much of the trip your more chance of seeing a polar bear than a speed camera, but that’s still one helluva hike for a day trip.

And at the end of it all, there’s not really much to see in Alice Springs.  I think the biggest buzz you get out of it is saying ‘I’ve been to Alice Springs’

We did stop along the way to see a massive rock of Uluru proportions called Mt Conner.  Mt Conner is on private land and it’s very difficult to gain close access.  I’m sure it could be considered as iconic as Uluru and Kata Tjuta if more people had seen it.

Please go and see the red centre some time before you die. It’s worthwhile.

Alice Springs

Alice Springs