How to enjoy the rock respectfully

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you will have heard the news that Uluru was closed to climbers and walkers in October 2019.

For the locals, the plethora of tourists snaking up Uluru every day was a disaster. To Indigenous Australians, Uluru is sacred ground – a place of enormous spiritual and cultural importance that tourists have arguably trampled and despoiled for generations. At the bottom of the trail there is a sign: “This is our home. Please don’t climb.”

The ban is part of a broader push to return the rock to its Indigenous proprietors – the Anangu – one that has also seen the name Ayers Rock shunned in favour of the more traditional Uluru.

Here are a few other ways to enjoy this magnificent monolith.

1. Take to the skies
The views from the top of the rock are good, but the views from the sky are better. Helicopters and small planes offer up an endless supply of panoramic photo ops and a bird’s eye view of the rock itself.

Snap your selfies safe in the knowledge that you’re not being offensive. Always a bonus.

2. Walk the perimeter
It’s strange in a way to climb Uluru, because by doing so you remove from your view the very thing you came to see. The 10km Uluru Base Walk treks round the whole site, and is actively encouraged by the Aboriginal community.

For all those seeking to ‘conquer the rock’, the best views and temperatures occur around sunrise, and there’s a stop for drinking water halfway through.

3. Enjoy the Field of Light
Since the announcement of the climb closure, tourist authorities have been working overtime to promote alternative Uluru-based attractions. We hope they mean to go on as they started, because they started with one of the most ambitious art installations of all time.

British artist Bruce Munro flew 50,000 solar-powered bulbs into the heart of the outback to create this remarkable light show, papering them across the ground like a blanket of ever-changing colour.

4. Have dinner at Ayers Rock Resort

The Voyagers Ayers Rock Resort sits in the township of Yulara, which is situated just outside Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The resort, an Aboriginal-owned enterprise consisting of accommodation, restaurants, galleries and more, makes up most of the township.

From relaxed dining under a desert sky, to grilling a barramundi steak on the barbecue, you can choose from 14 dining experiences at Voyages Ayers Rock Resort. No matter which hotel you stay at, the dining options available cater for every taste and budget.

Sounds of Silence from $225 per adult
Entered into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame the Sounds of Silence experience serves up a candlelit dinner to tell your grandkids about.

With canapes, chilled sparkling wine, and perfect white tablecloths suspended above the deep orange dust, it’s the best of the Red Centre distilled into four magical hours. It’s an evening of dining under the sparkling outback sky that you certainly won’t forget.

Uluru Bush Tucker Journeys – free
The bush tucker buffet features classic ingredients like crocodile meat, barramundi and quandong, while after-dinner entertainment comes courtesy of a traditional Aboriginal dance troupe. Join a free daily bush food experience to learn all about these native Australian ingredients. Round off the evening with a talk from a resident astronomer, while Uluru slowly fades away into the dark.

Tali Wiru – from $380 per adult
This seasonal, April to October, dining experience encapsulates the magic of fine dining in the spiritual heart of Australia. Tali Wiru, meaning ‘beautiful dune’ in local Anangu language, is an evening of fine dining under the Southern Desert sky. Instead of walls, this open-air restaurant has magnificent views of Uluru and the distant domes of Kata Tjuta.

Limited to 20 people in one evening, enjoy champagne and canapes, and four exquisite courses infused with ancient Indigenous flavours paired with Australian premium wines.

5. Go on a camel trek
Walking around Uluru; good. Walking around Uluru on a camel; better. Tour the local area on one of these magnificent humped creatures, or learn about cameleering at the designated Camel Museum. There’s something magical about wandering around on an animal that played such a big part in the discovery of the land. With some tours, you’ll stop along the way to enjoy homemade damper and jams.

If a camel is not quite your thing, sign up to a motorcycle tour, and cruise the desert on a Harley-Davidson.

Have you visited Uluru? Is it on your to do list?

With PA

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