Tears!…every time I go to write or talk about our adventure to the Red Centre, I find myself welling up. Yup…there I go again. I am determined to get through this and try to explain and describe to you all our time in Yulara.
Like many travellers, Uluru has been on my bucket list since before I knew what a bucket list was. Our family never made it when I was younger and as our eldest learnt about our history and landmarks at school, we knew ‘now’ was the best time to go. I started to worry that it might not have the impact I had dreamed of. Would seeing the Rock blow me away? I thought that I might have been desensitised to it all, having seen it in movies and advertising for as long as I can remember.
Our planning of this part of our adventure was made incredibly easy by the team at the Ayers Rock Resort. They were super helpful with all my enquiries, even with the silly questions I was asking. They had it all covered…from accommodation to activities, permits and excursions. A real one stop shop for everything Uluru and information about what the region has on offer. An excellent resource that we can well and truly highly recommend.
We left Kings Canyon (check our more about Kings Canyon here) and headed towards Yulara. The making of the town of Yulara in itself is fascinating. In the early 70’s the government recognised the negative impact tourism so close to Uluru was having and started to move all accommodation etc. from the base of the Rock to a new town, 14 kms away, Yulara was born.
This township is very clever in design and has everything that a small country town has to offer. All located on a neat circuit surrounding a big sand dune which you can view Uluru from. The loop road called Lasseter Highway, connects all the various accommodation types, which will suit all budgets and has a free shuttle bus service. Despite the fact that we could walk from the Ayers Rock Campground to all the shops, the girls loved jumping on the air conditioned bus, a novelty that did not wear off while we were there. The town centre has a very well stocked IGA (we love IGA), Bank, Post Office, Tourist information, Café, Bistro and speciality shops. The café supports local indigenous hospitality trainees and the courtyard area has a very welcoming & cultural feel to it. The perfect place to pull up stumps for a few days.
We originally only planned for 2 days, but we extended for Wayne’s 40th and are so glad we did. We spent 5 nights at the Ayers Rock Campground and explored Uluru, Katu Tuta and Yulara from the ground and the air.
Like many others, we headed towards Uluru from Kings Canyon and the kids were jumping out of their seats when they saw a massive ‘rock’ out the window. “It’s Uluru Mum, we made it”. But, it was not Uluru, it was Mt Connor. We all felt a little silly thinking it might be Uluru and found out later that we were not alone…hehehe…Lots of photos to remember this little hiccup.
And there it was…Uluru, fondly still called Ayers Rock, even though the name changed back to Uluru way back in 1985 (yup, hard to believe it was that long ago). It took my breath away & created a tear in my eye. This experience was all the more enhanced by the excited ooooo’s, arrrrhhh’s and wow’s coming from the back seat. We were all bombarded with the sheer size, which was made all the more ‘huge’ by the fact that it really looked like it had just been ‘dropped’ in the middle of nowhere. An incredible site that really has to be seen to be believed…
A quick 20 minute drive from the Ayers Rock Campground to the base of Uluru meant we could discover and explore in the cool of the mornings and then enjoy the township of Yulara and the campground in the afternoon.
We were celebrating Wayne’s 40th and surprised him with a helicopter ride so we could experience the surroundings from the air as well. The girls were so excited about their first helicopter flight and our pilot from PHS (Professional Helicopter Services) was welcoming and a wealth of knowledge and information which knocked our socks off during our 30 minutes in the air over Uluru and Kata Tjuta. It was also very interesting seeing where Mt Connor fit in, as all three amazing formations formed a straight line!
On the ground, we took in the Mala Walk around the base of Uluru; this was a lovely stroll from the Mala Walk car park to the edge of the gorgeous Kantju Gorge. A perfect introduction to Uluru, especially for the little ones. Our girls loved seeing the rock art and hearing about the aboriginal history.
The Cultural Centre is a must place to visit, a beautiful building filled with stories, artwork and all the information that you will need. We walked through and were all mesmerised by the Uluru documentary made is 1986 that was playing – “This is a unique film about Uluru, written and produced by the Mutijulu Community. You will witness the history of Uluru from an Aboriginal perspective, taking you from the dawn of creation to the celebrations of Uluru when it was handed back to the traditional owners. This film’s brilliant and unforgettable images present these events with humour, sensitivity and an accuracy that until now no one has bothered to obtain”
Have you heard of the “Field of Light”? We were over the moon to be at Uluru when The Field of Light art installation by international artist Bruce Munro was there. The largest Field of Light to date, we saw more than 50,000 stems crowned with frosted-glass spheres glowing and changing colours as the sun set. Astounding, breathtaking and quite overwhelming. We have just heard that this amazing experience has just been extended till March 2018! Click here for more information. Make sure you book or you might miss out.
But wait…there’s more! Hahaha. AAT Kings offer a range of tours and special events. Our girls were too young to do the Sounds of Silence dinner, however we were welcomed with open arms to their Sunset BBQ for Wayne’s 40th dinner. Now, this was not your standard snag & bread. We were treated to drinks & nibbles at the sunset viewing area and then driven by their massive air conditioned busses to the Cultural Centre for a lavish outdoor BBQ under the stars….right next to the Rock…It was quite surreal to be there, so close, eating and enjoying the most delicious meal with tourists from all over the world. Another highlight.
Only a 40 minute drive from the Ayers Rock Campground is Kata Tjuta (the Olga’s), another spectacular rock formation containing 36 massive domes. Larger than Uluru and possibly overlooked. We loved our time in this sacred area. The Valley of the Winds and the Walpa Gorge walks were both breathtaking walks and easy for us as a whole family to enjoy. Walpa Gorge got the thumbs up from the girls as they walked into the heart of Kata Tjuta and ‘felt’ the magic.
(We have thousands of photos from our Red Centre adventure…if you would like to see more, please email us)
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