Have you ever had that feeling of being completely overwhelmed when you find yourself in the presence of greatness, of something extraordinary? Something that you’ve always known about and then to finally be there?
Arriving at the Great Wall of China was an epic moment and I’ll never forget seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time – we sat in a public bus in Paris, full of French people as I cried, while fulfilling a life-long dream to visit Paris.
And yet until recently I still hadn’t been to our very own special place – the Red Centre.
I imagine every Australian would identify with Uluru as being a part of themselves. We think it will always be there so there’s no rush to go out and see it.
Uluru is one of the great Aussie icons that we’ve all grown up with. We’ve seen Uluru in magazines, TV & movies, and in just about every advert for Australian tourism.
Uluru is Australia.
When we speak with people about our experiences in the Outback most will invariably say to us, “oh we really must do that” or “why haven’t I been there yet?” And then there are others who rave and tell us it was one their greatest experiences.
The anticipation and build up as we approached the mighty rock was momentous and yes, overwhelming.
There is nothing as far as the eye could see and then this happened.
The only way to get up close to Uluru and Kata Tjuta is by entering the National Park.
It costs $25 per person for a 3 day pass and that gives unlimited daily access during set hours, usually sunrise to just after sunset.
The attendant did tell us that we could come in again beyond the 3 days so it seems they’re not particularly strict about it.
Visitors are welcome to walk around Uluru, though it is considered disrespectful to climb, and is strongly discouraged.
If you look closely, you’ll see the handrail going up the middle of the rock face. People actually drop dead from heart attacks walking the steep climb.
Walking the perimeter is along a very easy flat track and took around 4 hours, stopping along the way to admire amazing rock formations, waterholes and sacred spaces. There are magical places where we just stayed around for a while, taking in the magnificence.
You know when you see pictures of Uluru and it is that same familiar shape, well there are so many unique nooks and crannies, incredible formations when you get up close and walk through the folds and crevices.
The only way to truly see Uluru is when you get in close and actually touch it.
We couldn’t resist taking a Segway tour. Neither of us had been on a Segway before and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to balance. I have to say it was the most fun I’d had since Dave bought his scooter years ago.
Having a guide really made a difference and it was great to take the tour after we’d already walked around the day before. As usual on a guided tour, we learned an awful lot more than by just reading the signs.
All around Uluru we came across Indiginous rock paintings. Incredible to think that these were created by people over thousands of years. Being with the guide we were able to learn about some of the stories attached to the drawings.
I’d read reviews about huge crowds at the viewing platforms around Uluru, and how people seek out “secret” spots to wait for the amazing sunset colour changes without sharing the space with crowds of other tourists.
Well, I reckon just get to the designated spot, along with everyone else, and have a good time. The reality is that Uluru is popular and there are lots of people who are happy and friendly and are there for the same reasons. As much as we love serenity, there are those times when it is so much better to hang out with the crowd and just wait for the magic together.
We found the Red Centre to be surprisingly lush and green in many places and with the most beautiful flaura against the spectacular Uluru backdrop.
An absolute highlight was our pre-dawn visit to the art installation, Field of Light, named in local Pitjantjatjara as Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku and translated to ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’.
Over 50,000 tiny solar powered light stems are arranged over an area the size of seven football fields with dramatic views across the lights to Uluru as the sun rises. We walked along dark pathways into the installation. It was surreal to be amongst the thousands of lights as the sky above us was brilliant with stars.
Have a look at this link because our photos just don’t show the beauty, we weren’t able to fully capture the magic with our iPhone cameras.
Of course it’s not all about Uluru, there is so much more to see and explore out there, including Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. Just as soon as I can I’ll get cracking and write more about this “trip of a lifetime”.
Thanks for following along, you’re welcome to leave a comment if you like.