Why every Australian should visit Uluru
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.