Welcome to the first part of my Uluru series. Preparing for your trip to Uluru is a fantastic way to build the anticipation. Leaving the coastal built up areas behind, you are going to be venturing into the remoteness off Australia’s vast outback.
How do you get there? There’s a lot of choices. Depending on your location, driving could take few days, or, fly in with direct flights from most major metropolitan cities. From Brisbane, Jetstar runs a direct flight, not every day, but at around three hours of flying time, it allows you a much easier trip than passing through Sydney, Adelaide or Melbourne enroute.
We farewelled Brisbane through the smudgy window of our Jetstar flight, as the sun rose on a new day.
The mind blowing part of your flight, is spending a couple of hours flying over mainly uninhabited land, with red sand, punctuated with rare long straight dirt roads, stretching as far as the eye can see, and literally nothing. The further inland you go, the redder that sand becomes. Starting off as an orangey brown closer to the coast, the rich red sand dominates the landscape, and is going to be something you become very familiar with over the next few days. You are about to be surrounded by it. I did feel for the resort cleaners, it must be a battle to remove this fine sand from the carpets and floors, as it does attach itself to everything.
In the photo below, you can see a couple of salt lakes come into view. There are some massive salt lakes out this way, more on those in future articles.
Voyagers Ayers Rock Resort has a number of accommodation options, from a camping ground to individual hotel rooms or suites. When booking, check the package options, sometimes there are good deals, we found that to do the tours we wanted, it was easier and cheaper to book accommodation, flights and tours separately.
Don’t be fooled as you fly in from the East, that first big projection from the earth you see is not Ayers Rock/Uluru, its ‘Fooluru’. Commonly known as Mt Conner. Watch out for further information on this formation in future articles. From the other direction, you will first fly over Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas.
Everything out at Uluru runs like a well oiled machine, from the buses which collect and drop you at the airport, to the tours themselves and everything in between. If you’re a person who likes to sleep in, I suggest you prepare yourself for some early rising as you will miss some pretty incredible experiences and sunrises if you don’t make the effort to leave the warmth of your bed.
Our trip was at the end of May. Superb time to visit with the desert heat being in the easy tolerable low twenties range during the day. Nights did go down to 2-4 degrees during our stay. And it is cold. Once the sun drops, the temperature plummets. But, if you have a balcony, check out this incredible sunset we were treated to. All without leaving our balcony.
Luckily we took our own flynets. These can be purchased at the resort (until they ran out of stock) but we found them on eBay very cheap, around $1 each, so stocked up prior to leaving. Luckily the flies don’t like the cold so they disappear during the night, resurfacing as the day warms up. Around the resort the flies were patchy. More likely at this time of year to get one those small persistent little ones who keep coming back to your face no matter how many times you swipe.
Leave the resort though and there will be areas where you are walking through swarms of flies. That’s when you will realise how important that flynet is. Plus you get very good at the bus wave! As each person enters the bus, the one behind waves all the flies off their back. Keep in mind too, those little flies much prefer darker colours, they didn’t seem keen to settle on bright colours!
Sails in the Desert was our accommodation choice for this trip. Located on the ring road that makes up the resort, Sails was clean, comfortable and had the added bonus of being an Accor hotel, for those Accor Plus members looking for discounts on meals, or looking forward to your free welcome drink. Wifi is available, free to a certain download amount each day, but if you are on an Australian plan, you will probably find your own internet connection quicker.
The rooms here had a small bar fridge, plus the usual coffee/tea set up. Amenities were interesting in the bathroom, with camel milk used in products like the lotion, made just for the resort. More on those camels in the next article!
Dining options are many throughout the resort. You can purchase your own food at the IGA in the town centre or dine at one of the hotel restaurants, or cafes, anything from a cook your own bbq to some very pricey options. We had a couple of meals during the week at Gecko’s Cafe, the first being lunch on the initial day whilst we explored our new temporary home. Great to see the initiative given to training for the indigenous and local youngsters. Service was really good, the menu doesn’t host too many choices but enough to cater for most tastes. Food was tasty and enjoyable, and the atmosphere over all is quite pleasant.Certainly nothing wrong with these meals!
When choosing your tours, we found a few which provided breakfast or dinner, some with drinks too, so we didn’t actually need to many other meals. Yes it’s a captured market out here and it’s not cheap to freight anything out this way. this particular week it was $42 for a takeaway six pack of beer or $42 for a packet of 25 cigarettes. If you’re a smoker I suggest you take enough with you for the week. If you’re a drinker, remember this is a dry area, you can only purchase alcohol at one of the bars if you are staying at the resort. They will ask for your room key to check before selling you alcohol. Those food and alcohol inclusive tours are looking pretty good now aren’t they!
The resort is a short ten minute bus ride from the airport and about 30 minutes to Uluru itself. If you don’t wish to spend money in tours, you can self drive, there are hire cars available, or, utilise the hop on hop off bus which takes you to my points around the base of Uluru itself and Kata Tjuta. At the moment its under $50 per adult to have a day pass.
The resort has a number of free activities as well. On our first day, we listened to the bush yarn given by the informative Natalie. She popped up in a few of the free activities and was very interesting to listen to. As part of the bush yarn, Natalie showed us some of the indigenous artwork. I’m featuring this one below as Natalie did advise the artist was more than happy to have her work photographed, providing she received credit for the work. Thank you Rosalind Dixon, I think its wonderful you allow people to take those memories with them.
I do hope you have enjoyed the first article. Feel free to ask any questions on this area, more than happy to assist in your planning.
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So many stories to tell from this incredible area! Keep watching!