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Why every Australian should visit Uluru

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park attracts more than 167,000 international visitors per year - all charmed at first sight. And so too should every Australian visit their country's heart, which beats to the rhythm of an ancient time.

Why every Australian should visit Uluru

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Guest post by Marie Barbieri 

I first saw Uluru from England after running to catch a bus in the rain. Beneath the heavy lid of a London sky, I turned the pages of my glossy brochure fresh from the travel agent, only to discover this bizarre red rock in the middle of nowhere.

‘That’s pretty cool,’ I thought, having no idea just how underrated Uluru would remain in my mind until seeing it in real life. And it was love at first meet.

Following Uluru’s spectacular Base Walk, I find a monolith of multiple faces and ever-changing colours. Close up it’s a canvas of curved ribs, etched valleys, baked fissures and vertiginous walls—sometimes bare, sometimes footed by forest. And beneath the foliage lives a whole other ecosystem, where lizards flit and frogs lay dormant until life-giving rains return them to life.

Tracing the hem of Uluru’s crushed velvet stone curtains, the 10.6km trail treats me to almost four hours of eye-boggling and unexpected sights. At one point I’m facing vertical cliff faces that rise, seemingly, infinitely. And the next, I find rock shelters and cool caves. Here, I notice that the rock’s arkose sandstone is actually grey underneath, but brushstroked with millennial layers of iron oxide. Oh yes, Uluru, your cheeks do blush.

I may be in the heart of desert territory, but this is far from the parched landscape many visitors believe is at the centre of Australia. It’s quite the opposite. Between the desert oaks, sap-bleeding bloodwoods and grassy claypans are waterholes glistening beneath a cerulean sky. World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park boasts no fewer than 416 species of native plant and 178 bird species. Just think about that for a minute…

I keep an eye out for black-faced cuckoo-shrikes, Australian kestrels and spot a peregrine falcon spotting me. Underfoot, I scout for ground-dwelling inhabitants such as dunnarts, goannas, snakes and honey ants.

And the walls are alive at Uluru. Painting its weathered skin is an abundance of indigenous rock art conveying the Anangu people’s connection with this place—at least 22,000 years of it. Uluru is the cornerstone of Tjukurpa: the ancestral creation period, and the foundational philosophy and law of Anangu life.

It’s no surprise that the traditional owners find so much significance and meaning in Uluru. At first sight, it seems so unlikely that it exists as it does, as well as the breadth of flora and fauna thriving on and around it. All of this conspires to make Uluru truly magical.

As the sun slows, while the Belt of Venus glows, I feel the spiritual presence of this surreal place. It’s where Aboriginal songlines come to life before your eyes.

The rest of the world clearly agrees. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park attracts more than 167,000 international visitors per year—all charmed at first sight. And so too should every Australian visit their country’s heart, which beats to the rhythm of an ancient time. Believe me, as beautiful as it certainly is, Uluru feels even better than it looks.

About Marie Barbieri

Marie Barbieri is an award-winning freelance travel writer and photographer who contributes to publications across the world. She has a passion for nature, wildlife and conservation and enjoys hiking, cycling and dancing.

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Uluru Bicycle Hire (Departure 1)

Take a morning ride around the base of Uluru by bicycle. The 15 kilometre self-guided journey is easily made within 3 hours and can be enjoyed by the whole family. Stop and explore the pure beauty of this spiritual and unique wonder of the world at your own pace. Once you have finished your ride, you are free to explore the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre. Includes return hotel transfers operated by Uluru Hop On & Hop Off. Children toddler seats and tag-a-longs available on request, subject to availability. Departure times: Return transfer from your accommodation by Uluru Hop ON Hop Off 7:15am December 7:45am February 8:30am March 9:30am October and November 10:00am September 10:15am 16-30 April and May 10:30am 1-15 April and June to August Duration approx. 4 hours

1 Day Hop On Hop Off Pass

This 1-day Hop On Hop Off pass gives you the freedom to explore Uluru at your own pace for one day. From sunrise to sunset, hop on and hop off as much as you like throughout the day. Additionally, this pass also entitles you to one bonus transfer to and from Kata Tjuta within the same day. Download timetable and map

15min Rock Blast (Daytime)

Launch off on a rock blasting adventure and take in the sights of Ayers Rock Resort and surrounding desert landscape as you make your way towards Uluru. Enjoy a panoramic view of the breathtaking scenery unique to the Red Centre.  Tour duration approx. 1 hour
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Longitude 131°

Located adjacent to Ayers Rock Resort, Longitude 131° offers an exclusive experience of the Australian Outback, rich in cultural heritage and history.

Emu Walk Apartments

Ayers Rock Resort's 4 star self-contained apartments: Only 20km from Uluru, the newly renovated 1 and 2 bedroom apartments are sheltered behind gardens of native trees. Lowest Price Guarantee.

Ayers Rock Campground

Ayers Rock campground is located only 15km from Uluru and offers cabin accommodation, unpowered and powered sites for caravans, campervans, motor homes and camper trailers. Campground offers modern camping facilities and a playground, pool, supermarket and petrol station.
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Ecology & Museum Tour

Wintjiri museum provides an educational display highlighting local history, Aboriginal culture, geology, flora and fauna. On this interpretative tour of the museum your Aboriginal guide will introduce you to the region's unique ecology and classes of mammals and fauna types not found anywhere else in the world.  Gain insights into the Anangu land conservation and management practices as well as a brief historical overview; starting 30,000 years ago with the Aboriginal habitation to the early European explorers, and the development of tourism at Uluru. Tour duration approx. 45 minutes.

Guided Garden Walk

Desert Gardens Hotel is famous for it's magnificent gardens full of local flora. Meet your Indigenous guide at the hotel's reception for a guided tour of these authentic native gardens and an introduction to the many different plants which Anangu relied on for food and medicinal purposes. Tour duration approx. 1 hour.

Mani Mani Indigenous Cultural Theatre

Mani-Mani Theatre Company’s unique sound, lighting, 3D effects and performance take you on a visually captivating experience transporting you to the ancient lands of Central Australia where the story of Walawuru, Kakalyalya & Kaanka unravels. The symbolic story of Walawuru, Kakalyalya & Kaanka is a tale of love, jealousy and greed. Expressed through ‘Mani-Mani’, the local art form of storytelling, this contemporary Indigenous performance brings to life the ancient ancestral beings Walawuru the Wedge-Tailed Eagle and his two wives; Kaanka the black crow and Kakalyalya the white cockatoo. Walawuru is happy with his two wives but little does he know Kaanka is evil and very jealous of the kind and caring Kakalyalya. The word ‘Mani-Mani’ comes from the Yankunytjatjara & Pitjantjatjara language of the Anangu people of Central Australia. Anangu people would often tell stories by drawing symbols in the sand using a stick taken from a branch of the Mani-Mani tree. The stories were often about ancestors, real events in history and the Tjukurpa creation time.
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3 Day Luxury Itinerary

Enjoy this 2 night Luxury Uluru getaway and experience the unforgettable Tali Wiru dinner under the Central Australian desert night sky. Watch the sun rise over Uluru as the desert awakens and join various Indigenous activities at Ayers Rock Resort. This itinerary is suited to couples or two singles wanting an indulgent Outback stay.

3 Day Best of Uluru Itinerary

Discover the best of Uluru and surrounds with once-in-a-lifetime tours and activities on this 2 night Best of Uluru itinerary. Witness the Field of Light art installation, watch as the sunrises over Uluru and Kata Tjuta and learn about Indigenous culture and traditions in Australia's spiritual heart.

3 Day Uluru Budget Itinerary

Explore Australia's Red Centre on a budget in 2 packed nights. Experience the magic of Uluru. Enjoy a dinner under the stars at the award-winning Sounds of Silence, walk through the Field of Light and discover various guest activities that will provide you with unforgettable memories. This itinerary is designed for those wanting a budget adventure.
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