- Uluru (also known as Ayres Rock) stands 385m above the plain
- Is a monolith – one solid piece of sandstone, with the majority of the rock still hidden underground
- Is jointly managed by Parks department and the Anangu people both represented on the management board.
Craig managed to get Emma up and out of bed before sunrise in the near freezing temperature. It was a near miracle. We headed into the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and paid the $25 per person for a park pass. This entitled us access to the park for three days.
It was around a fifteen minute drive from camp and the sky was already beginning to lighten as we passed the sunset lookout where we saw the big rock silhouetted against the sunrise. We carried on to the sunrise lookout and hurried up the path. The viewing platform was already full of people so we found a pozzie along the path. Although we caught the first sun beams striking the Uluru, we’re pretty sure we missed the main spectacle.
We drove back to camp and fuelled ourselves for the day ahead with a big cooked breakfast. By the time we got moving again the sun was overhead and the temperatures had reached the early twenties. We headed back to the rock. Although visitors are still able to climb the rock (pending weather conditions for safety reasons) we abided by the Anangu peoples wishes and elected not to climb. Instead we did the 10km base circuit walk. We were astonished at the different views, shapes and colours of the rock up close. The path was level and flat so it was fairly easy going. You can even hire push bikes and cycle around the path.
It was now heading into late afternoon. We hadn’t had lunch so decided not to wait around for sunset and headed back to camp.
Up again before sunrise, but this time we watched from the sunset viewing location. It was a complete different perspective to see the silhouette emerge out of the blackness.
Once again we headed back to camp, this time we just had a quick breakfast and headed back in to catch the free daily guided mala walk at 10am. The tour was conducted by one of the rangers and provided great insight into the significance of the site to the aboriginal people. Explaining the areas that are used for different purposes, and some of the dreamtime legends. It is definitely a tour worth joining.
The tour had run longer than expected so we headed back to camp and had ourselves some lunch and lazed about camp for a bit before returning for the sunset. We rocked in early enough to get ourselves a prime position and came armed with snacks and jackets for when the temperature dropped.
Our third and final day at the national park we skipped the sunrise and slept in. We headed in to the park and spent some time in the visitor centre learning about the customs of the local aboriginal people and the history of ‘ownership’ of the rock. After browsing the art gallery we set off for Kata-Tjuta.
Formerly known as ‘The Olgas’ this amazing rock formation is located another half an hour into the national park. We stopped briefly at the sunrise viewing platform for a quick look before continuing on.
The Valley of the Winds walk is a circuit 7.4kms long, graded as difficult. Us couple of crazies set of in the heat of the afternoon. Although we met some other walkers along the trail to the first lookout, we seemed to be the only ones out there after that. The path was very up and down, but the vista though a gap in the mounds from the second lookout point is breathtaking and worth the effort. From here the path becomes slightly easier until it’s time to walk back up the hill to the car park.
It was too early to hang around and watch the sunset at Kata-Tjuta so we decided to head back to Uluru and watch a second sunset there. Unfortunately by the time we were approaching Uluru Emma had developed a nasty headache. In the end we decided to call it a day. Our last view of Uluru in the rear-view mirror as we left the park.
It is definitely an experienced that everyone should see once in their life. There is so much more to it than photos can convey.
Ayres Rock Resort
Uluru was handed back to its traditional owners in 1985 on the agreement that the park be leased back to the government as a National Park. After this the camp ground was eventually moved outside of the national park boundaries to the township of Yulara.
There have been a few changes to how the resort is run, but these days the whole place is run by one company. So whether you are staying in the swish five star luxury hotel, hanging out at the backpackers or like us, staying at the caravan park everyone has access to all the facilities.
The resort township is quite large and provides a variety of restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and even a pretty well stocked supermarket.
The whole complex has been designed so that it sits in amongst the sand dunes, so that walking to the highest peak you can have an unobstructed view of Uluru.
We tried had pizza for lunch at the Gecko Café in the town square. It was really good and reasonably priced.
Also located in the town square area is the Kulata Academy Café. This café is staffed by locals in the indigenous training academy. We grabbed a coffee here early one morning. The coffee was good and the breakfasts coming out of the kitchen for other patrons looked mighty tempting too.
We also tried the Outback Pioneer Kitchen. This is located in the Outback Pioneer Lodge (backpacker type accommodation). With a pretty basic menu of burgers and pizzas we weren’t expecting a lot, but were very disappointed with the below average burgers we got from here.
Over all we found the resort to be very well run and enjoyed our stay here.