After the three hour drive from Kings Canyon we arrived back where we had flown in to the day before – Yulara which is the little resort town servicing Uluru Ayers Rock.
The whole town, the accommodation, and many of the tours are all owed by one company – Voyages Indigenous Tourism. It is about 15km from the rock, so if you don’t have a car then you have to pay for transfers or tours every time you want to go anywhere – see my travel tips post (to come)
We stayed at the Outback Pioneer Lodge, which was a bit tired, and I had cocked up the dates we had booked – but we managed to get that sorted and upgraded to a nicer room. The resort had a nice pool and a bar and a couple of different dining options. It is also the only place in Yulara that you can buy take-away beer – which, while still being expensive, it was a much cheaper option than buying each bottle over the bar!
We got settled in and then headed out to the rock to explore. Park fees are AUD$25.00 per person and that is for a 72 hour period. There is a fantastic free interactive cultural centre which is a great first stop to get a better understanding of the history and significance of the area to the Aboriginal people.
We took a drive around the park. You can see where the park entrance fees have been spent on flash roads, and large parking areas, viewing platforms and walking tracks. It is brilliant. The only detraction was the number of other people who were there. They arrived en mass, and while the colours and scenery was fantastic, the number of people really spoilt it for me. Perhaps it is because we had had some incredible sunsets on the boat or in some really remote places on our own. Either that or I am just intolerant, and got grumpy with all the LOUD talking, coughing, their kids whining, smoking etc. Anyway I am hoping I will forget all about that and just remember this instead.
We took a million photos of all the different colours. The rock literally glows red just before the sun sets. It is spectacular.
It had been a long day, so we drove back to the resort, stopping to grab an average Pad Thai Noodle from the Ayers Wok Noodle Bar, and we drank a bottle of wine with some Easter eggs for dessert before falling fast asleep!
The alarm went early again the next morning, and we headed out to see the sun rise. Again with another crowd of annoying people. But again it was just amazing.
We went to the cultural centre cafe for breakfast and then hired some bikes to to the circumnavigation of Uluru.
There is a 15km track around the base. It is flat all the way, and I imagine would be a bit of a long walk especially in the heat. Walkers go clockwise, and bikes go anti-clockwise, to make it easier to see one another. The bikes meant we got a bit of apparent wind as we flew along, and it rested our tired feet from the hiking at Kings Canyon the day before.
As you cycle (or walk) around there are sign boards along the way explaining the legends relating to the markings on the rock. Uluru is very sacred to the Aboriginal people and some places you are not even allowed to photograph. They ask visitors not to climb it, but despite that, many people still were. I personally wouldn’t have wanted to climb it. It is super steep and I think I would have got vertigo at the top and apparently about 35 people have died climbing it, but despite that, it really is a bit like climbing all over a temple, cathedral or buddha. You COULD do it if you really wanted, but is it the respectful thing to do?
Anyway we were pleased we had decided not to climb it, it seemed like the right thing to do, and as we rode past a kangaroo bounced past us. A good omen – well that was our thought.
It took us three hours to cycle the 15km track. That included lots of stops along the way for photos and reading the information signs. It was again pretty hot by the time we had finished, so we headed back to the hotel to drink beer by the pool and chillax.
We went back to Uluru again for the sunset, but this time we just parked up on the road all by ourselves. Ahhhh much better! Sure the view wasn’t quite as good, but at least we didn’t have to put up with all the other people. For dinner we went to one of the restaurants in the shopping centre and had a kangaroo and emu pizza. Nothing like eating the coat of arms for dinner…!
The next day we were off to discover Kata Tjuta (blog post to come)