OK please don’t get cranky because I’m calling Uluru Ayers Rock when that hasn’t been it’s official name for some time. If you are offended, I apologise.
However I wanted my first post as part of the A-Z Guidebook to be of Ayers Rock (ok, I’ll call it Uluru from now) as it is the most magical, spiritual and spectacular place I have ever visited. And I really didn’t want to wait until we reached U in the Guidebook to share this.
Tomorrow marks eleven years to the day since I first visited the Northern Territory (and today marks eleven years since The Accountant and I had our first date!). I had a truly wonderful four weeks in the Territory, starting in Darwin and culminating in Alice Springs.
I thought nothing could top my visit to Kakadu, but I was wrong.
My first sighting of Uluru, rising out of the ground as I approached in a bus filled with backpackers, left me speechless.
As the only Australian on the bus (excluding the guide), I made sure to snag the front seat next to the driver. I wanted to ensure my first glimpses of the rock were unhindered. I had expected to be awed. I didn’t expect to be filled with emotion that left me speechless with tears streaming down my face. I’m not a religious person, but I felt the spirits enter my body that day. It was such a surreal feeling. Almost eleven years on I still can’t explain it coherently.
We had two days around Uluru and that sense of intense magic and spirituality didn’t leave me. Even today I can conjure it up with no effort when I think of those moments. And nothing has ever made me feel like that since.
My top tips for visiting Uluru are:
- go in winter (Australia’s winter), June, July, August. Otherwise it’s far too hot during the day, and you really want to walk around as much as you can.
- drive don’t fly. I’m sure the view is fabulous from the air, but you won’t get that same sense of awe. Or maybe you will. Let me know.
- make sure you take a tour with a reputable and knowledgable guide – I did a four day three night backpacker tour and seriously lucked out as our guide was possibly the best tour guide I’ve ever had. His knowledge of the history, culture and community was truly remarkable. I will never forget him – and not just because he “encouraged” me to eat a raw witchety grub (not recommended in case you are wondering. Ick.)
- camp under the stars. It’s the only way. On the ground, in a swag. At least for one night.
- pack appropriately – it was 35c in the day and -1c at night. Drink a lot of water, slip slop slap. The sun is fierce, even in winter.
- try and go when there is a full moon. I missed it by one night.
- visit the Cultural Centre when you arrive – it will set you up with all the information you need for your stay
- walk around the base – it’s about 10km and a lot of it is wheelchair accessible so it’s an easy walk
- don’t climb Uluru. To start with it’s dangerous and people have died while climbing it, but mainly please don’t climb it because of its spiritual significance to the Anangu people and they request it not be climbed. The visitors guide says “the climb is not prohibited, but we prefer that, as a guest on Anangu land, you will choose to respect our law and culture by not climbing.”
- get up to see the sunrise and be sure to also see the sunset. Both are dazzling.
Note: This post is part of Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures’ A – Z Guidebook Travel Link Up, a monthly get together where bloggers get to navigate the alphabet, talking about the one special place and photo that best represents the nominated letter of the month. This month is A.