Uluru and Kata Tjuta

Australia's flag
Oceania » Australia » Northern Territory » Uluru
August 12th 2007
Published: August 17th 2007
Edit Blog Post

Uluru from the airUluru from the airUluru from the air

our view as we were about to land

Sunday August 12 2007

Jeff and I decided to make a mid winter trip to warmer a climate. Central Australia seemed a good decision, and Yulara (Ayers Rock and the Olgas) was the destination. We arrived at Terminal 3 at Sydney Airport, and after checking in for flight QF728 in seats 2 A&C, we made our way the Qantas Club. It’s always nice to relax have a coffee before a flight.

Our flight departed at 09.50 and was scheduled for 3.5 hours. There were only 4 other passengers in Business class, which made the cabin half full. After takeoff, we started with a Gin and Tonic with served with some mixed nuts, and we settled in for our flight, looking forward to the next 4 days. Lunch was served around 12 noon, and we both chose Lamb with Potato Mash and Ravioli. The wine served was a Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, crisp and fruity, and a good compliment to the meal. The movie that was shown was Fracture, starring Anthony Hopkins, but we both read magazines and listened to music instead.

Our plane commenced descent and we were given excellent views of Uluru (Ayers Rock), which was magnificent. I (Paul) had never seen it before except in photos etc. After landing we picked up our luggage and caught the shuttle to our hotel, The Sails in The Desert. Our room has a great view overlooking the pool and gardens, and after unpacking and settling in, we had a bottle of Charles Heidsick Vintage Champagne to celebrate.

After a snooze, it was time to get ready for tonight’s dinner, the ‘Sounds of Silence Dinner’. After pickup from the hotel and driving to a sand dune overlooking Uluru, we were served drinks and canapés while watching he Sunset. We then moved over the dune to a location where tables were set with linen cloths and candles for dinner. Everyone was happily snapping photos of the rock, and everyone was very chatty. The ever changing light on the rock was a sight to see. As it was starting to darken we made way to the dining area.

The dinner was buffet style, but our first course of Spiced pumpkin soup was served to us. The main course was a choice of meats including Barramundi, Beef, Chicken and Kangaroo with assorted vegetables and salads, and later
Uluru at DawnUluru at DawnUluru at Dawn

The first light of day, we were up at 5am to take the sunrise tour
a wonderful choice of desserts Chocolate Brownies and Bread and Butter Pudding and Fruit salad.

The lights were later turned out, and all we could see was the sky blanketed in thousands of stars. We were given the most wonderful narration of the stars by an astronomer, who identified all the stars, and told stories and anecdotes. A didgeridoo player played throughout the night. The other guests at our table were 2 Japanese girls and American couple on their honeymoon, and an Australian couple, the wife was Qantas flight crew amazing, such a small world!

After much laughter and wine we got back on the bus, as we needed a lot of sleep to wake up early tomorrow morning.

Monday August 13, 2007

The alarm sounded at 5am, and out of bed to get ready for our Sunrise Tour. After a cup of tea we went to the front of the hotel to wait for our coach.
When our coach came along, we had to purchase National Park tickets for $25ea for 3 days, without which you cannot go into the park. Pickups were made at other hotels and we were soon on our way
Paul & JeffPaul & JeffPaul & Jeff

Drinks before the Sounds of Silence Dinner
in the darkness. It is 24km to the rock from the resort, which takes about 15minutes. The coach arrived at designated viewing area, and there were lots of other coaches and vehicles already parked, and more to come.

We were given little camping stools, and the driver set up a table for tea and coffee. The sky was getting lighter, and the rock was getting more visible every moment. Digital cameras of every description were aimed at the rock and people were snapping away, including us!

The changing colour of the rock was amazing, and we kept turning away so our eyes did not adjust to the ever-changing colours across the face of the rock. I think I can truly say this would be one of the few places that I have been which is 100% tourist. The coaches are on strict time schedules, and we soon off to continue the tour.

Two groups of passengers left the coach along the way for different tours, but we continued along and soon arrived at the Mala car park area where climbers start their ascent to the top of the rock, but which is frowned upon these days by
Jeff Jeff Jeff

Jeff at the Rock at Dawn
the local aboriginals. The driver explained that we had 3 options here.
1) The Mala Walk 2km, 2) the Base tour including the Mutitjulu Waterhole or walk around the Rock, approximately 9.5 km. We decided to do the Mala walk, the Mala is the Aboriginal name for the Rufus Hare Wallaby. Along this walk we saw rock drawings and a sacred women’s’ site where photography is not allowed.

It was so good to be able to be walking along a section of the base of the rock, seeing so many caves, water holes and more. Even with so many tourists around it was not crowded and there was lots of time to be alone and soak in the amazing spiritual feeling here.

We made our way back to the car park, is also were people can climb the rock, but today it was closed because of high winds. It looks very dangerous and I would not want to do it without climbing equipment. Jeff did it when he came here many years ago with his Grandfather and cousin, before Yulara and the resort existed, but he still remembers how difficult it was even back then.

We had a new coach and driver for the base tour we took another walk around the base of the rock to the Mutitjulu Waterhole and rock paintings, and later took the bus for the continuation of the base tour and on to the Cultural centre. We were both very tired at this point, and Jeff had a nap on the bus. At the Cultural centre photography is also prohibited. We were coming back later for an afternoon tour, so we just had a Sandwich and a drink, actually we were quite happy to go back to our hotel to rest.

After a light nap, unfortunately interrupted by several fire alarm drills, we went to the front of our hotel for the Sunset Tour, this time with the Aboriginal Company, Anangu Tours. This included a tour with one of the traditional owners of the park and a interpreter at The Mutitjulu Waterhole. We met the guide, named Happy, and the interpreter called Jimmy, at the Cultural Centre. We got the impression that Happy, a woman of about 60, was a bit disinterested, but off we went to Uluru. Once we arrived, Happy described different areas along the path to the waterhole and told stories, which were translated by Jimmy.

We initially did not understand Happys’ manner and it is really aboriginal culture that we were ignorant about as she was quite shy. As we got into the tour Happy became less wary and opened up. The waterhole is the focal point of the story Kuniya the Python woman and her battle with Liru the evil snake man who had killed Kuniyu’s nephew. All over the rock there are formations, which represent the story. Kuniya was so angry that she spat poison, and plants were poisoned and therefore some plants are good and some bad to eat.

At the end of the tour Happy showed us plants and seeds that they would use and eat and she let people take photos of her. We left Happy and Jimmy and made our way to the Sunset area, where there were so many coaches and tourists. This did not matter, as the rock was the focal point, and it was bathed in the setting sun and was ever-changing. The sunset behind us was also a sight. There was a eclectic gathering of tourists the backpackers, Japanese, families and international tourists.

We made are way back to the hotel, showered had a glass of wine and just felt we had a great day. We went to a restaurant in the hotel called Winkiku for dinner. Even though this is the high season, there is no overwhelming groups of people or crowds.

Tuesday August 14

Sleep in!!!, how wonderful. We did not have to be up for anything today. Though if we wanted to lie in any longer past 9am we could not have as the sound of mowers and whipper snippers filled the air. Here you have to start early, as it gets too hot in the middle of the day. We lounged by the pool wrote postcards and decided to have lunch right here.

Our tour today would be to the Olgas, known as Kata Tjuta. We were picked up again and we went. Our driver was a Dutchman called Leo, who was very talkative, too much at times. Two thirds of the way there we stopped to gaze at the Olgas from a designated viewing area, but unfortunately we were facing the sun and photos were not good.

We arrived at the Olgas; at
Paul and jeffPaul and jeffPaul and jeff

Uluru in full sun
one time these were 3 times higher than Mt Everest but due to erosion have constantly worn away. We walked between 2 of the formations, called the Walpa Gorge, which took an hour there, and back. The Olgas are rounded spheres that have been mostly shaped by the wind. There are a tremendous amount of boulders strewn around that have fallen off due to the extreme in temperatures here, from -9 to +59C.

Leo told us that there has been an increase in injuries recently because of people using digital cameras, because they don’t stop while taking photos.

We had to be at the bus at a certain time for our next stop was the Sunset again at Ayers Rock. We were waiting for an Italian couple that were late, there are so many Italians here, we were surprised at how many actually, and they really come across as being more arrogant than the French.

The Sunset this time at the rock was different today as there was a lot of cloud cover, and the sunset behind was better. Quite a few tourist’s followed Paul realising he was taking pics of the sunset rather than the rock. Leo set up a table with nibbles and wine, for some it was like they had not eaten all day. Why is it when things are free people are like pigs? The Sunset was great and we along with so many others, took more than enough photos.

Back at the hotel we had our own nibbles, and at 8.30 went to the town centre to a café called Gecko for dinner. It was very buzzy and noisy, but despite the number of people the food came rather quickly. We drank beers tonight, as we had already drank lots of wine in the last few days.

Wednesday August 15,

Today is a lazy day, just to sit and relax before coming home. We walked to the town centre about midday and looked at the Desert Sands Hotel. The whole Ayers rock Resort, is owned by one company called Voyages. We thought of lunch at the take away but it looked so uninviting lunch at the hotel was a good idea. For a top tourist destination this shop left a lot to be desired.

We decided to go to the local lookout for our last

Hey too well posed there paul!
look at the rock, a wonderful sight well worth coming here. The temperature was quite cool compared to the last few days. Later that evening we went back to Geckos for dinner as we enjoyed it the night before. All in all it has been a great holiday and its great to do nothing some days.

What do we think of coming here? Fantastic a great spectacle to be able to see Uluru in all its glory. It’s a 3-day stay, The sounds of Silence Dinner. Two tours of the Rock and one of the Olgas is really all you could do. The resort itself is owned by one company so the service is good, but not great. As you are a captive audience and this type of vacation a mostly a one time only. The company does not have to go that extra yard.

Thursday August 16,

Time to go home, our flight was due to leave at 12.05pm Qantas contacted us that our flight would leave at 12.55. The bus for the Airport leaves at 10.35 am so we would have to wait 2 hours. We had some magazines to read and soon enough our flight arrived and we took off for Sydney in 2a and 2c we luckily were the only two in business class.

We looked at Ayers rock as flew away, again we had gin and tonics with mixed nuts. Later on lunch was served we both chose the chicken curry with rice. The wine was the same as the flight up

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Traditional Owner GuideTraditional Owner Guide
Traditional Owner Guide

Happy a guide on the traditional owners tour
Uluru at SunsetUluru at Sunset
Uluru at Sunset

Uluru catching the last rays of sun

Tot: 0.065s; Tpl: 0.012s; cc: 14; qc: 24; dbt: 0.0322s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.1mb