If you followed along on social media I think you’ll understand when I say Justin and I have just had an INCREDIBLE 4 days in Australia’s Red Centre. I’d been wowed by Uluru once before (just seeing this part of Australia is an unforgettable experience) but the activities we took part in on this trip make it one we shall never forget. Read on to discover the best things to do in Uluru for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Best things to do in Uluru
Sounds Of Silence
An Uluru sunset is one of the best in the world, you’ll be truly mesmerised as the rock appears to change colour from orange to amber to deep red right before your eyes. Add to this experience a glass of champagne, dinner under the stars and good conversation from travellers all over the world and you have the makings of an unforgettable evening. Sounds Of Silence is one of the more luxurious experiences you can book at Uluru (priced at $295 per person locally) but I truly believe it’s worth every penny.
Not only are you treated to fine wine and posh bush tucker (think crocodile caesar salad and kangaroo bruschetta) but the evening starts with a traditional Indigenous dance and ends with a talk from an astronomer. As the dinner table lights were dimmed and we leaned back to look at the desert night sky I could not believe how many stars were visible, the whole of the Milky Way seemed just beyond the end of our fingertips. Using an impressive laser the expert Star Talker pointed out constellations including the Southern Cross and signs of the zodiac, whilst explaining what some of them mean in Aboriginal culture. He also had a telescope set up so one by one we went down to the viewing platform and had the incredible opportunity to look at Saturn – I could actually see the planet’s famous rings!
The food was delicious too, especially when you take into account our remote location. The meal service started with a pumpkin ravioli and then each table is led up to the buffet to select from the number of dishes on offer. There was kangaroo steak cooked to perfection and the lamb cutlets (which were recommended to me by the local couple on our table – always a good sign!) proved to be incredibly good. For dessert there was a range including chocolate cake, cheesecake, lemon sponge and apple crumble. I tried a little of each but to be honest had enjoyed the mains so much I couldn’t fit more than a few mouthfuls in.
On our table were couples from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, London and Yulara (the town at Uluru) itself. We seemed to have been magically matched with a table full of world explorers who left London and Paris to live in remote tribal areas, I was fascinated by every story they had to tell.
All too soon 10pm came around and the coaches arrived to escort us home. I could have sat under those stars until the early hours, sipping port and talking about travel, but we had another incredible activity which was to start in just a few hours…
Uluru Sunrise Camel Tour
There are not many things that can convince me to rise at 4.30am but this experience was one of them! A camel ride in Australia may seem a bit random but Australia is, in fact,home to the world’s largest roaming herd of camels and camels play an integral role in outback history. Uluru Camel Tours offer a range of experiences which teach about the 130 year history of camels in the outback whilst offering incredible views of Uluru from a furry perch. After perusing the brochure we booked the Camel To Sunrise tour (priced at $129 per person) as I couldn’t resist the chance to see the desert in the magical, early morning light.
Under the starlight we were taught how to mount the patiently waiting camels and listened to them moan like dinosaurs when it came time for them to stand up. As you lean back the camel lifts you up in 2 strong steps and then away the group goes. A chatty guide led our camel train whilst another member of the team walked alongside us. Together they filled us in on how camels live in the outback, at the same time leading us towards sand dunes with sunrise views over Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
The desert is incredible peaceful at that time of the morning and as you travel along the remote camel tracks you can’t help but feel part of some incredible adventure. The light and shadows are a photographer’s dream and even the saddle is a lot more comfy than it seems!
Back at the farm a brekkie of damper bread, spreads and strong coffee is waiting for you. There are lots of great pictures and stories of camels working in the outback spread around the property so we took some time to take them all in. Before heading back to our beds – it was still only 8am!
Visit the Cultural Centre
The signs at the entrance to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park urge you to visit the Cultural Centre first and I couldn’t agree more. An integral part of a visit to Uluru is about understanding the history and significance of this area and the small, mud-brick Cultural Centre has a big impact. Through video, images and information boards it sets out to explain the creation stories, traditions and ceremonies that take place at Uluru and Kata Tjuta, as well as provides some context into how the park is managed in association with the Anangu people, the Aboriginal land owners.
(Note: photography and filming is not permitted at the Cultural Centre.)
The screening room is one of the most interesting parts of the exhibition (in my opinion) as it covers the delicate subject of what it was like when westerners first arrived in Uluru, a subject not often spoken of but a part of history that cannot be ignored. In their own words some of the elder members of the community describe what it was like when white men arrived proffering sweets, which the locals threw over their shoulders whilst pretending to eat them lest they be poisonous. It’s a fascinating, educational film and I hope all visitors take time to watch it.
Best of the rest
Here’s what’s on our list for next time:
Helicopter Flight – if you’re on the left side of the plane you get an excellent view of Uluru as you land at Uluru/Ayers Rock Airport so I can just imagine how fantastic it would be to fly over the national park in a helicopter.
Uluru by Harley – for the cool riders!
Free Activities at Ayers Rock Resort – there is a whole range of free programmes hosted by the Ayers Rock Resort including Bush Yarns, Guided Garden Walks and Astronomy Information Sessions. Pick up a leaflet at your accommodation or via the Tour and Information Centre at Town Square for more information.
This trip was made possible by Austravel, leading Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific specialists who can tailor make your dream trip to Uluru. Find out more about their Red Centre Holiday Ideas here.
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