Tag Archives: Uluru

Go Around, Not Up, Uluru


Australia – Uluru… Continued…


When I was first planning our trip to The Rock, there were three things I knew I wanted to do:

  1. Sunset Viewing
  2. Sunrise Viewing
  3. Walking the approximately 10k perimeter of the base of Uluru

But then I found the perfect tour for us that included more than that and also more bang for our buck.


This tour included an “interpretive walk around the base of Uluru with an indigenous guide.” This wasn’t a walk around the entire perimeter, but it sounded like it would be far more meaningful.

It started with breakfast and visit to the Cultural Centre. Entry is free and definitely worth your time. The Centre itself has won numerous awards for architecture. Photography of the Centre is strictly prohibited, but you will still find some photos online because people, you know, are defiant.

The Centre is wonderfully set up to guide you through what Aboriginal life was like in this area. There are displays introducing plants and wildlife, as well as describing how Uluru was formed. {Like, did you know that the bulk of this sandstone “monolith” lies underground?!}

After our time wandering on our own, we gathered around a fire for a demonstration of Aboriginal tools.


There were two guides, one who was Aboriginal. At first, I thought this was because the Aboriginal guide didn’t speak much English. The other guide did most of the talking, translating what the soft-spoken indigeonous guide had to say.

The Aboriginal people ask that you do not take photos of them. This has to do with their culture and is very dependent on the customs of traditions of each group. I noticed in the Cultural Centre that some of the faces of the Aborigines in photos were covered. I believe this goes hand and hand with some Aboriginal groups’ practices of no longer speaking the name of a deceased person.

Our guide was young. He wore shorts, work boots and a Chicago Bulls hat! But he was very knowledgeable of how to use the resources in the area.

Right before our eyes he turned this spinifex…


into a powder!

It took several minutes and was meticulous work.


The powder could be used as a glue of sorts, when heated. He showed us how to create the end of a club, like the one you with the black nub in the picture of tools below.


While the guys had the opportunity to attempt to throw wooden spears, the ladies tried to balance this on their heads.


This vessel, made from the truck of a tree, is used to carry food and other materials.


I detest these photos, but you get the gist. Shout out to Fulton Brewery in Minneapolis!

At least I was able to balance it for a few seconds. Walking? That was another story.


Afterward, we boarded our coach to head to Uluru for our base walk. That’s when we saw the climbers. Ugh. I find it so disrespectful when you are asked not to climb!

Seeing the surface color and texture of the Rock up close was fascinating.


I just finished reading In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson and his description of The Rock on his visit was spot on:

Quite apart from that initial shock of indefinable recognition, there is also the fact that Uluru is, no matter how you approach it, totally arresting. You cannot stop looking at it; you don’t want to stop looking at it. As you draw closer, it becomes even more interesting. It is more pitted than you had imagined, less regular in shape. There are more curves and divots and wavelike ribs, more irregularities of every type, than are evident from even a couple of hundred yards away.

You realize that you could spend quite a lot of time – possibly a worryingly large amount of time; possibly a sell-your-house-and-move-here-to-live-in-a-tent amount of time – just looking at the rock, gazing at it from many angles, never tiring of it. You can see yourself in a silvery ponytail, barefoot, and in something jangly and loose-fitting, hanging out with much younger visitors and telling them, “And the amazing thing is that every day it’s different, you know what I’m saying? It’s never the same rock twice. That’s right, my friend – you put your finger on it there. It’s awesome. It’s an awesome thing. Say, do you by any chance have any dope or some spare change?”



Sometimes the rock is so red and smooth:


Then there are other parts of the rock….


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The indigenous guide pointed out resources from the land that have been used for thousands of years:

It didn’t feel like a planned tour, so much. It was more that he pointed out anything that he spotted along the way that had significance. He was quiet, but, at this point, he began speaking directly to us, in English. He identified the type of tree used to shape the container that I attempted to balance on my head earlier.  He pointed out bush foods. We tried some sort of berry, which I would not have had the courage to do if we’d have walked the base on our own!

We even found lizard tracks in the sand!


You can see the footprints, along with where the tail slid through the sand:


The more our guide spoke, the more confident he seemed to become. Maybe it was our obvious interest in what he had to say. But what I loved most were the stories! He told Dreamtime stories just as I imagine they were told from generation to generation.

The story that related to the vicinity where we were standing was of the Blue-Tongued Lizard Man.



There are many lessons from the story, one of which is not to steal. The other: Don’t Climb Uluru. There is nothing up there: no food, no shade, no water. You can die falling. Every week someone has to be rescued. Not joking. While it is unsafe, it is also discourteous.


No matter what, I’ve always found that it’s better to learn about a place from the locals. It’s often more enjoyable, too.

Have you ever had a local guide tell stories?

What was your experience?

Other posts on the on Uluru:

Other posts about our trip to Australia:


Uluru at Sunrise


Australia – Uluru… Continued…


While the sunset over Uluru was beautiful, I preferred the sunrise. 

The funny thing is… I’m not a morning person. It is a difficult thing to get me out of a bed. I’m a wake-up-slowly kind of gal. But knowing that this was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity, I set the alarm for something insane like 4:30 in the morning to meet up with our tour group for the sunrise.

We arrived in those nearly pitch-black conditions I spoke about when the sun sets.


As the sun began to rise, the entire landscape was lovely.

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Can you spot Kata-Tjuta in the distance?


Upon arrival to our designated viewing area, Rob and I decided to take the path less traveled. Most of the people went toward a small hill for, perhaps, a better vantage point. But that was appeared crowded and loud. The area we chose had fewer people. In the morning, especially an early morning where I haven’t had my coffee yet, that was a better option.


What a beautiful sight…

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Except for a few people talking, everything was relatively quiet and still. Serenity.

And there you are…


The sun had risen and it was time to start the day! We were off to breakfast at the Cultural Center followed by a guided tour of the base of Uluru.

Are you a morning person or an evening person?



Other posts on the on Uluru:

Other posts about our trip to Australia:



Australia: Visiting Uluru


When I was planning our trip to Australia, everyone told me that I would need to go to the Red Centre and to discover, first hand, the beauty of Uluru, the world’s largest monolith that sits in the Outback.


I also learned that to visit, it could be very, very expensive. My husband suggested that we skip it; but I didn’t want to do that. We were going to be in Australia. I wasn’t going to do something that was highly recommended by everyone I talked with, including a friend who went to Australia and the only thing she regretted was that she didn’t go to see it.

And while in all the research I did about how expensive it was to get to Uluru, how expensive it is to visit it and how expensive it can be to stay there…

Not once did I read anywhere that Uluru should be skipped due to the expense.

Absolutely no one said, “Don’t do it! It’s not worth it!” Instead, most people just chalked up the expense to being, after all, in The Middle of No Where.


First, a Few Definitions:

Red Centre

This part of Australia:

Red Centre Map

It’s is called such for the beautiful red rock and sand that covers the landscape. There is more to the Red Centre than Uluru; but with our limited time, we decided to fly straight in to Ayers Rock airport (AYQ) from Melbourne (about a 3-hour flight) and make the most of it. The nearest city is Alice Springs, which is about 6 hours away by car or about a 1.5-hour flight. {Although I’ve read stories about flights to AYQ often being unreliable or canceled from Alice Springs, making it difficult to catch any booked tours.} Alternatively, the tour company AAT Kings makes a daily trek to and from Alice Springs, making stops along the way to feel more like a tour than just a ride on a coach bus.

Ayers Rock

Ayers Rock = Uluru. Ayers Rock is just the English name for the monolith. It was named after Chief Secretary Sir Henry Ayers, when it was “discovered” by explorers around 1872.


Uluru = Ayers Rock. This is the more appropriate, Aboriginal name, given to the monolith by the Anangu people. The monolith is listed as both Uluru and Ayers Rock throughout the region.

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta is another rock formation not far from Uluru. It is also known as Mt. Olga or The Olgas in English.


Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

The park is the land that encompasses Uluru & Kata Tjuta, for both cultural and conservation efforts. A standard 3-day pass to visit the park is $25. You must have a pass whether you visit on your own or are on a tour. This is the minimum and least expensive pass. You can read more about the National Park here.



Yulara is the service village just 18 km from Uluru. There are 800 people who live in the service village to serve you and make your stay welcoming. This is where all of the accommodation is located.

Ayer’s Rock Resort

Unless you are camping or on a Glamping Tour, Ayers Rock Resort is the only place you can stay if you are visiting Uluru. The Resort owns pretty much everything in the village. From my understanding this includes all hotels and restaurants. For that reason, you can dine in any of the hotels’ restaurants and put it on your room.

If you are on the cheap, there is a youth hostel at the resort, which (at the time of this writing) runs $38 for a Dorm Bed or $203 for a Budget Room (without bathroom) per night. You can also camp for as little as $36 per night for two people for a non-powered site, provided you have brought your own camping equipment.

The hotels run (at the very least!) of $250 – $400 per night {with a two night minimum} for a basic room. There are also luxury options (about $2200 per night with a two night minimum.) All accommodation requires complimentary shuttle to and from the airport.


Ayers Rock Resort – Yulara – The Red Centre



There are so many ways to visit Uluru & Kata Tjuta.

  • From Alice Springs – Fly, drive (approx 5 hours to Uluru) or take a bus (approx 6 hours)
  • Fly directly into the Ayers Rock (AYQ) airport.
  • DIY – This was the number one way I was recommended by Trip Advisor. We did not follow this advice, however. We didn’t want to do deal with renting a vehicle. We also wanted guided explanations of what we were seeing, including culture and history, rather than reading out of a book.
  • Multiple Day Tour throughout the Red Centre. Most of these are Glamping Tours, which I’ve heard great things!
  • Guided Tours – There are so many options. There are walking tours, sunrise and sunset tours, camel tours, etc. With our limited time, we decided on a package deal of tours through Viator. I knew that I wanted to see Uluru at sunrise and sunset, walk around the base of Uluru, gaze at the stars sans light pollution and visit Kata Tjuta while we were there. You’ll hear more about the tours we took in subsequent posts.


Other Important/Interesting Facts:

  • Time Difference – There is a half hour time difference in the Northern Territory from the East Coast of Australia. Strange to me, but true. You’ll hear more about this in a future post.
  • Size – You may think of Uluru as “just a rock;” but the sheer size of it, especially with the contrast of the flat surrounding landscape, is astounding! This will give you an idea:


  • Circumference – It is approximately a 10k around the base of Uluru.
  • Temperature – It gets very hot in the Red Centre! It can get up to 114 degrees, but is also chilly in the evening. We went at, what I believe, was the perfect time of year! It was Spring – September 10th through 12th, to be exact. I believe we topped out in the eighties. We had a few annoying flies while we walked the base of Uluru, but not enough to need a net; although they are highly recommended in summer.
  • Climbing – Uluru should NOT be climbed. It is discouraged by the Anangu people.  But people still do:

I find it maddening that while it is posted everywhere that the Anangu people ask you not to climb something sacred to them, that people do not have respect for that message. The part that’s even sadder? That it’s still allowed for tourism purposes. It may be banned in the future, but complicated criteria must be met first.

A guide told us that in Japan, climbing Uluru is actually advertised. “Come climb the largest monolith in the world!” I guess if you come to the Red Centre not knowing in advance of the Anangu’s wishes and you pay for the climb, I can somewhat understand. But watching people climb still made me angry.

Furthermore, it can be very dangerous.


More on Uluru to come!

Other posts on our trip to Australia:

Where have you been where local traditions or wishes have been ignored or disrespected?