A large Red Rock

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by catsholiday on September 26, 2010

This has to be one of the world’s most recognisable sights and probably Australia’s most famous tourist magnet. It is indeed an amazing geological feature. As you approach you see this lump of rock rising up 1100 feet from the flat desert of the outback. This huge red rock can be seen for many miles around. It is the fact that this is such an amazing sight and also the fact that it almost changes colour at sunrise and sunset that brings thousands of tourists to see it each year despite the fact that it is in the middle of nowhere. Uluru is an important spiritual place for the aboriginal people of the Anagu group.

Getting there

The drive is about a 6 hour from Alice Springs, first along the Stuart Highway and then along the Lassetter Highway.

We left Alice Springs at 8am and our first stop was the Camel farm where we made use of the toilet facilities and a couple of people had a camel ride. Camels were introduced to Australia for outback exploration and have thrived since this time as the conditions are perfect for them. We stopped At Mount Ebenezer’s roadhouse for lunch. This is about the only place to stop on the road between Alice and Yulara, the base from where you visit Uluru. It is a fairly basic eatery with a huge area for sitting and a reasonable selection of food and drinks. It was baking hot inside but no flies however there was a little breeze outside in the shade so we sat out there and enjoyed the slight breeze.

It is also possible to get to Ayres Rock by air. There is a small airport not far from Yulara and just outside the Aboriginal controlled area. Flights are available to and from a number of cities in Australia .

Where to stay
When we arrived at Uluru we went straight to our hotel The Outback Pioneer to check in and have about an hour to relax, shower or whatever before we met again for our bottom of Uluru tour. This is one of a number of hotels on the resort near Uluru. Uluru itself is a sacred aboriginal site and no development is allowed close to the rock. In order to accommodate the thousands of tourists who come to Ayres Rock each year there is this hotel complex located outside the Aboriginal people's area. The resort area is known as Yulara and it is a couple of miles away from the actual Rock.

Wow it is hot!
It was so hot when we were there that the heat hummed around you and even the breeze was a hot wind. The heat melted the soles of my shoes and the tarmac was soft. We were going to go for a swim but in the end we just stayed in our room cooling off until it was time to go out for our walk around the rock.

To climb or not to climb?

There is a path all around the rock and this is about a 9 km walk. It was so hot that we didn’t do the whole walk but we did go and see some interesting caves and aboriginal drawings and despite the awful flies and the heat it is well worth doing. We left at about 4pm and it was still boiling hot when we stopped at the base of the Uluru climb and took some photos.

Some people like to climb the rock however personally I feel that as the aboriginal people do not like people climbing it that I would not choose to do it. It is an Aboriginal spiritual place the local people do not like tourists climbing all over it. People say that people should not climb the rock as it is dangerous and there have been a number of accidents and some deaths over the years. However I feel that tourists should respect the local people’s feelings and not climb the rock as they are crossing ancient Aboriginal paths, and it is a Aboriginal spiritual place.

Having said all that it is still possible to climb the rock but apparently it is not an easy climb. There is a chain set into the rock to help people up and down but there is not much else and not many resting places. It is like walking up a slightly curved wall. Thos wanting to climbs must start early in the morning so that the summit can be reached before it becomes too hot. The climb is closed by park wardens after a certain time and is in fact only open if the conditions are suitable for climbing.

There is a particular place where you can park to watch the sunset away from the rock so that everyone can watch the spectacle without people getting in the way and spoiling your photos.

We weren’t alone but each coach party had its own little area, with table of food and camping stools for those quick enough. We managed to pilfer some cold beer and replace it with our warm ones and then made our way to the spot we chose for photos. The food was all laid out and there were plenty of dips, cheese, fruit, crisps etc to keep us going. I had a few glasses of wine to enhance the atmosphere and we took hundreds of photos. It was very special and everything that we expected and more. It is hard to do this experience justice as the colour of the rock changed through various shades or red until the sun disappeared behind it completely.

Then again very early for sunrise:
We got up at 4.30am so that we could enjoy the Rock at sunrise. It was of course totally dark at first but we watched for about an hour and enjoyed the colour changes over the Rock and I kept going off to see how the Olgas were looking too. It was quite atmospheric and another special time. It was much cooler and the flies hadn’t woken as yet.

The Aboriginal Culture Centre
We went to the Aboriginal Cultural Centre for breakfast. The building itself resembles two snakes, Kuniya and Liru, whose stories are based around Uluru. It was beautifully done with Aboriginal stories and beliefs as well as explanations of bush tucker and weapons etc which was very interesting. There are displays explaining the Aborigine way of life, the significance of the rock and much more. As always there is the inevitable gift and souvenir shop. The cultural centre is definitely worth a visit.

The Olgas

A few miles from Ayres Rock, there is another formation known as the Olgas They consist of a number of large rock formations that look like they hav been thrown by a giant in a temper there are 36 domes in total. The largest dome is called Mount Olga and over the years the name has come to cover all these large rocks. Like Ayres Rock these rocks have the distinctive red colour. Geologists believe that millions of years ago the Olgas were a single large domed rock bigger than Ayres Rock but large cracks formed and they became into these smaller lumps of rock.

In conclusion:

Most Australians visit the red centre and Ayers Rock in their winter which is our summer. This way they can avoid the worst of the flies and the weather is a bit cooler. We went in January and it was VERY hot, about 40+ degrees at about 3 o clock in the afternoon. By 6pm it was still extremely hot but at least the pesky flies had gone. If you have a problem with the heat and want to see this wonder of nature then I would suggest going in August rather than January.

You need a hat and decent shoes if you are going to walk any distance as the ground is rough and very hot so the heat actually seeps through the soles of your shoes. You need sunscreen, the fly net and plenty of water as it is so easy to dehydrate in this hot dry environment.

Having said all that I am so pleased that I finally managed to see this amazing place. I had wanted to when I lived in Australia but somehow we never had the time or money to go. So finally twenty years kater I have achieved that ambition.

Thanks for reading
Ayers Rock Tour

Ayers Rock, Australia


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