I always wanted to go to Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock), and I finally had my chance! My friend T and I booked a four day trip during the Easter break.
Yulara, the closest town, was developed by the government for the sole purpose of tourism. Previously, the un-monitored tourism industry was wreaking havoc on the environment, so the government stepped in. As a result, arriving there was like walking into one big resort (which it actually is).
(Although it was at the tail end of summer when we went, it was still really hot! We ended up buying insect hat nets to keep the mozzies away and spraying copious amounts of bug spray. Apparently, there are no mozzies during winter, but I imagine it’d get really cold during that time…)
My highlights of the trip were:
To buck the trend, I’m not going to post a generic photo of Uluru. 😛
But yes, it was really good to finally see it in person. We did the base walk, which goes all the way around. Although it was advertised as a moderate walk, it was actually an easy walk — flat land all through out, tracks clearly marked. Even ran into a guy running it!
I think the only reason it was graded harder was because of the heat. There were a lot of exposed areas with no shade. Though every now and then, there would be lean-to’s where you could stop and rest and even a tap to refill your water bottle.
2. Kata Tjuta.
I’m going to admit my ignorance in saying that I didn’t know this existed until shortly before the trip. I’ll also admit that I enjoyed this hike more than the Uluru one. While it’s graded as a hard walk, it’s not super hard — there is just a bit of clambering one way, but after reaching the second lookout it turns into an easy walk. While the trail isn’t as clearly marked as Uluru, there are still arrows marking the way so we didn’t get lost.
But anyway, hiking this was like walking through the Land Before Time. There was so much lush greenery throughout, and it was nice seeing the variations in scenery.
3. The sunrise(s).
The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park probably has the best sunrises I’ve ever seen.
And I was lucky I saw them. Because the weather was still getting pretty hot, we had to start the walks early — they recommend finishing walks by 11 AM in hot weather. This meant we were up at 5, and at the parks at 6, 6:30 AM… the perfect time to watch the sun rise.
I got to learn a bit more about Aboriginal culture. The place was peppered with plaques, and we got to listen to a few talks about Aboriginal culture. Most of what I previously knew was from things I read — it was amazing getting to experience a little bit of it during the trip.
The food was surprisingly good. (Hah, I always have to write about food somehow!) Anyway, I wasn’t expecting much — I thought that since Yulara is isolated town, the most I could expect was decent-ish food at exorbitant prices. Granted, prices are a little bit more expensive because everything has to be imported, but otherwise the food was delicious. It wasn’t “we have no choice but deal with this because this is all that’s available, let’s make do” kind of food, but a sincere “this is pretty good, let’s come back tomorrow.”
I was initially worried that having only two full days to explore wasn’t enough time, but it turned out to be perfect. To be frank, there wasn’t much to do after exploring both Uluru and Kata Tjuta, unless we were to go off to Kings Canyon (around a four hour drive away). At the end of the fourth day, we’d smashed most of the free activities available at the resort, haha!
But yeah, I’m glad I got to go. It was a great first experience with the outback and getting to know my adoptive country a little bit more.