Flying to Uluru for my first visit to the famous rock, I think I’m pretty damn smart to lightly pack just T-shirts and shorts. This is the Red Centre of Australia, so no need to lug heavy warm clothes. Wrong! At night in the desert it’s bloody freezing. This was to be just my first preconception about Uluru to be shattered this weekend…
Arriving late in the afternoon, perspiring in the heat, my shirt clinging to my body, I hurriedly check in to my resort and crank up my room’s aircon. Half an hour later I emerge into the early evening for the “dinner in the desert”. It’s like stepping into a fridge! I’m stunned by the temperature plunge. Think quick… I can slip my other 2 t-shirts over my T-shirt… Nope, that won’t do. It’s then that I answer my own age-old question of who buys those ridiculously overpriced zip-up vests in the hotel’s souvenir shop. Me. But it’s all worth it to see amazing night sky, the Milky Way with 100 times the normal density of stars. And the BBQ dinner of kangaroo and emu is, well, interesting. Who else eats their nation’s Coat of Arms?
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Up very early next morning for a silver service breakfast outside on a sandy hillock, to experience “Sunrise over Uluru “. In the eerie pre-dawn greyness, staff wisely hand out extra thick jackets and caps to the diners and it becomes all too obvious why: waiters have no sooner cleared thick frost off the dining chairs and cutlery, than they are recoated in ice. It is super cold! Then the glorious moment, as the rising sun touches distant Uluru, the hues of magenta, pink and red emerge. It’s almost magical!
Later that morning, I take a walk near the resort. The first thing that strikes me is the light. The Outback air seems so clear and pure, unpolluted, like its come straight out of the box. The natural colours are seemingly highlighted, with a new sharpness. It’s obvious now why artists come from all over the world to paint in the Australian Outback.
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I venture only 20 minutes’ walk from the resort, ensuring it remains in sight. The sand is alternating shades of light and dark red. The air is seriously dry. Deserts may well trap humidity in the atmosphere but it sure isn’t at ground level where I’m standing! The rapid drying of the skin, and especially the lips, is extremely pronounced. Then I notice that I’m not noticing anything…there’s not a sound. Just the quiet and the stillness. Barely a breeze. No sounds of birdlife, no kangaroos. Nothing. In the desert docos on YouTube there’s always at least a frill neck lizard going toe to toe – or claw to stinger – but no, not here. Nothing other than a colony of reddish orange ants quietly foraging in the sparse grass. No, you wouldn’t want to be lost for long out here, without water and shade. This experience has left an indelible impression in my mind as I walk back to the resort, where the pool and ice-cold Coronas await.
The resorts, hotels and camp sites are a fair hike from the rock, to prevent damage to the environment and vandalism. From this distance, as from the air when flying in, Uluru doesn’t seem so big. But as we approach by car, the enormity of Uluru becomes apparent. It’s so… dominating. Like an epiphany, I grasp the place’s spiritual importance to the indigenous folk. It is much more than just a tourist attraction. I won’t clamber over it, like a million visitors before. I will simply admire it.
Day 21: Adventure time in the middle of the Australian Outback for a few days riding camels and seeing weird plants and animals and rock formations. This just makes me appreciate the diversity of Earth's biomes that much more. #australia #outback #vacation #uluru #travel #animals #wildlife #nature #desert #hiking
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A visit to Australia’s Uluru will forever change your appreciation of the Outback, and the stark beauty of nature.
(Featured image: nosha)