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In the Winter school holidays I was lucky enough to escape to Uluru / Ayers Rock with my two older kids. Situated in the Northern Territory Australia, we took a short 3 hour direct flight. The decision to not take my youngest (9 years old) was based on the fact that we wanted to explore the area by doing all the touristy activities which involved getting up early and a lot of walking.
Ayers Rock Resort is the only resort and is the gateway to Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park. Huge sails provide shade, solar panels generate power and native trees flourish throughout – the Resort is an architectural achievement.
The Resort provides a variety of accommodation options for every possible taste and budget – from the award winning 5-star Sails in the Desert Hotel, and modern Desert Gardens Hotel, to the self contained Emu Walk Apartments, the authentic Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge & Ayers Rock Campground, offering powered campsites and air conditioned cabins. We stayed at Sails in Desert Hotel. It provided us with one room with two queen size beds, a tv and a bar fridge with a decent bathroom. The decor was a little outdated but the plan was to spend as much time exploring the area and to only sleep in the room.
We found a beautiful vantage point when we arrived and were fortunate enough to catch a spectacular sunset. This was a 10 minute walk from our room situated in the Ayers Rock Resort.
Ayers Rock or Uluru as it is also known is absolutely beautiful. Uluru is a massive sandstone rock in the heart of the Northern Territory’s arid “Red Centre”. The nearest large town is Alice Springs, 450km away. Uluru is sacred to indigenous Australians and is thought to have started forming around 550 million years ago. It is 348 metres high with a 3km circumference. I other words, it’s huge.
One of the things I wanted to do the most was to experience a sunrise over the rock. After an early pick up (6.ooam) we were driven with 12 others to a remote location. The Desert Awakenings Tour ($179 per adult) was a predawn experience where we were able to capture the most beautiful photos.
The sunrise happens a lot slower in this part of the world as you are closer to the equator. It was a very magical experience. The colours in the sky were amazing and the once the sun had risen we were greeted with the beautiful sight of the Uluru in the distance.
We began our day with freshly prepared traditional Aussie breakfast of bacon and egg rolls, homemade damper with syrup, fresh fruit and of course hot coffee and tea.
The temperature was not on our side even though the sunshine was out. It was absolutely freezing and icy cold. It was about -2 degrees but during the day the sun came out and it was about 17 degrees. Seen here just after sunrise, our tour guide took photos of us. By the way, we are shivering like mad here.
The tour then took us along the Kuniya and Mala walks at the base of Uluru. We were introduced to the culture and geological history which we all enjoyed. I really think Archer (9 years old) would have been very bored and tired at this point.
It is not advised to climb the rock as first thought. Uluru is very spiritual and sacred and we were told that the aboriginals did want people to climb the rock as it is dangerous and as it is their spiritual place it is disrespectful. That tiny white line going up the rock is the fence where people climb. In 2019 this will be removed and you will no longer be able to climb the rock.
We walked along the Uluru walking tracks. By this time the sun had come out and we were feeling a bit warmer. We visited the Mutitjulu waterhole which is a very spiritual place. The Delai Lama and Princess Kate and Prince William have both visited this sacred place.
One of things that intrigued me the most was the lack of wildlife. We all expected to see lots of animals and even very early in the morning there were not that many around. In fact we really only saw a few birds.
We had since learnt that due to people climbing the rock they leave their litter and use it as a toilet spot. Over the years the litter and pollution have washed down the rock into the waterholes where the animals once drunk from. These waterholes are now so polluted that the animals have gone away.
I got up close to the rock and touched it. It was very rough and from here you can appreciate just how large it really is.
Here are some original aboriginal drawings that still exist in a cave under the rock.
This is meant to the be the best place to get photos of the rock. It really did turn out to be a magnificent day.
Our tour bus was very odd indeed but it was comfortable and safe along the sandy roads and tracks. The tour also took us the Cultural Centre within the Uluru-Kata Tjutu National Park. This is where we learnt about Uluru and its Traditional owners. This was an experience I will never forget. The kids loved it too. Our tour guide was fantastic and very knowledgeable about the culture.
The Yulara Police station and health centre are situated in the Ayers Rock Resort. There is also an IGA, a Post Office with cafes and restaurants scattered throughout the resort.
Another experience which has been extended to 2020 was the Field of Light Uluru tour. This once in a lifetime experience ($42 each) was an experience we will never forget. As darkness falls the 50,000 slender stems crowned with frosted glass spheres light up across a field. You can walk a long or short path and get right up close. Olivia got some amazing photos and it’s one of those places that look better in real life. Bruce Munro is a renowned artist know for his site specific installations across the world and we were so lucky to have seen the beautiful light display of this monumental scale.
Sails In the Dessert was the only 5 star hotel to stay at in the Ayers Rock resort. Although expensive ($124 for three of us to have buffet breakfast), we thoroughly enjoyed it.
We ate at Ayers WOK noodle bar one night. The younger aboriginals are given the opportunity to work at the cafes and restaurants to gain valuable skills. They were all very polite and well mannered and worked very hard.
So we can highly recommend visiting Uluru as our experience was wonderful. We were busy the whole time and although very expensive it was worth it.
There are so many experiences other than what we did. You can go on an ‘Outback Sky Journeys’ tour, ‘Uluru Camel Tours’, food and wildlife experiences and a lot more.
You can find out more information on accommodation and experiences here.
Ayers Rock Resort
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
This is not sponsored.