It was the “wet”season for Uluru National Park though that still means a minimum of rain, but the winds were just strong enough for our pilot to abort our landing and head for Alice Springs a small town near the National Park. We sat on the tarmac for about 30 minutes waiting for the weather to clear and listening to a small child whine “please daddy!” over and over. It was a very long 30 minutes!
Finally though we were able to fly back to the national park airport for a landing into what from hundreds of feet up really looks like Mars. From the air, the flat red plains looked barren, dotted with scrub trees and some grasses creating an eerily beautiful landscape.
By the time we emerged from the airport, our shuttle to Ayers Rock Resort was waiting for us. Pretty much everyone stays there if they are lodging within the national park. Otherwise, people stay in Alice Springs and bus or drive into the park.
Ayers Rock Resort provides a variety of accommodation options for every possible taste and budget. They have the premium Sails in the Desert Hotel and the award winning Desert Gardens Hotel which is where we chose to stay.
They also have the self-contained Emu Walk Apartments and the authentic Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge. They even have an ultimate luxury wilderness camp called Longitude 131°.
Even if you choose to stay at one of the hotels like the Desert Gardens, you can use the pools at any of the other hotels as well the restaurants and other facilities, which give you a variety of experience within the resort. The resort also offers many different tours and experiences to choose from. I really loved both of the tours we picked and would recommend them to everyone.
We rode through the silent desert just as sunset glossed everything in gold. It was absolutely magical with only the creaking of camel saddles and soft thud of hooves on the hard ground to break the quiet of the evening. After the ride, we sampled traditional outback tucker including Camel and Kangaroo meat, crickets and other unique foods, some of which (like the crickets) I simply couldn’t make myself try and I have to admit, I felt really guilty trying the Camel and Kangaroo meat. It seemed like eating your pet!
As we started the trek around the 14 km base trail of Uluru we embraced the culture, geology and environment that is the essence of Ayers Rock (Uluru). The guide told us the cultural stories (Tjukurpa) of Liru (the poisonous snake) and Kuniya (the python), as well as many other Aboriginal creation stories associated with the rock like the one below.
Long, long ago, in the time of the Tjukurpa (The Dreamtime or creation period), there was a young woma python (Kuniya) snakeboy who was surprised and ambushed by a group of Liru (which are venomous snakes). The Liru threw spears at the Kuniya and killed him. So hard did they throw their spears that the points made holes in the Uluru rock. (see the holes made in Uluru by the points of the Lirus' spears).
Along the trail we visited waterholes and rock art sites of the ancients and learned about Uluru’s cultural significance to the Anangu. The word Anangu simply means “human beings” and has come to refer to the local aboriginal people.
I think we were the last group to ever see the “school room” because our guide told us that it was being sealed due to dangerous shifting of the roof rocks. It’s amazing to think of small native children getting instruction about the stories of their ancestors and cultural activities of their community.
Leaning about the history and significance of Uluru added a depth and dimension to our visit to the National Park and I would highly recommend either taking one of these tours or reading up on your own before you go.
There is an Aborigine legend that Uluru was once an ocean, but after a great battle at its shores, it rose up in revolt at the bloodshed, forming the great blood-colored rock that you can often see glowing red, during sunset.
So…. We probably shouldn’t be climbing all over it. I believe they are in the process of planning to prohibit all hiking on the rock going forward.