After the massive day traversing Kings Canyon, we slept well, enjoyed a nice breakfast at Geckkos in the the town centre, and were then collected from our hotel for the Helicopter tour.Now, when you book this tour they do ask for approximate weights of each passenger. However, on the day you are also asked to stand on the scales prior to boarding the bus, holding everything you are taking on the flight. So be warned, make that weight as accurate as possible! The weights are then calculated by the pickup driver to work out where you will sit in chopper to ensure even weight distribution. Yes and its right about now, all that tasty outback damper and tucker you’ve been enjoying, comes back to haunt to you!
A quick trip out to the back of the airport, coupled with a safety brief and you are waiting in the van for the helicopter to return from its previous flight.
As the helicopter returns, hovers low to the ground, before landing for the previous passengers to disembark, the trepidation is building. Did I mention I’m somewhat terrified of heights and helicopters too? Yes Ive been in them before but, still a somewhat nervous passenger.
Our friendly driver takes photos for the previous group, refuels the helicopter and calls us over for our ride. Those blades aren’t stopping anytime soon, whirling happily waiting to lift the chopper of the ground again.
Five passengers per ride, 4 in the back and one in the front with the pilot, and its pretty cramped. Theres really not a lot of room to move, however before too long I’m happy to be in one of the middle seats, its a pretty awesome view straight in front and not as confronting as being next to a window. Shaking hands made it hard to connect the seatbelt but staff are more than willing to assist. Add the headphones to your attire, have the camera at the ready, and it was time for take off.
We had chosen the 30 minute flight which took us out by Uluru itself as well as Kata Tjuta. As we hadn’t been to either as yet, (those tours were tomorrow), this tour was a very interesting and great way to get the lay of the land.
All the time during the flight, our very relaxed pilot, explained the land formations for us as well as general history. Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people are the traditional landowners and guardians,who have inhabited this area for 10 000 years. The Anangu people belong to the oldest culture known to man dating back 60,000 years. They believe that this landscape was created when time began during the travels of great ancestral beings, and their culture has always existed in Central Australia. Uluru and Kata Tjuta are used for traditional ceremonies and rites of passage and are said to both provide physical evidence of these ancient events. Their cultural awareness of the land around them is incredibly fascinating. Uluru is the aboriginal name which has been generally adopted since the government handover on 26 October 1985. Prior to this Uluru was knows as Ayers Rock.
After leaving the airport, we headed across the resort to towards Uluru itself. As we drew closer, you could see what an incredibly imposing sight this monolith was the air. Our pilot ensured everyone could see each angle, by manoeuvring the whirly bird around and changing side views so we all had the opportunity to take photos.
At every angle the view changed, showing the many varying parts of this incredible multi million year old monolith.
We would learn there are areas of the rock which are very sacred, all which are to be respected. Although at this time you could still climb this rock, on 26 October 2019, no one will be permitted to climb anymore and this inland iceberg will be permanently closed to climbers.The faint grey trail you can see heading up Uluru on the first outcrop in the middle of this photo, is the chain railing which was installed by Peter Severin of Curtin Springs Station so people could climb the rock. Peter was asked to install this at knee height which he did, to his knees, but unfortunately, no one allowed for the fact Peter is not that tall, hence the chain is quite low to the ground!
Leaving the rock behind for now we headed towards Kata Tjuta, or Mt Olga as the tallest peak is known. A mass of different large, domed rock formations or Bernhardt shapes and structures, Kata Tjuta also makes an imposing presence on the flat landscape. The pastel canvas rolls across the vast area before meeting the random formation collection.Red sand dominates from up here, with long, mainly straight roads heading into the distance. This one below us is closed to the public and accessible only by the local community men as it leads to a very sacred area where the boys are taken for their initiation into manhood. The area is so sacred, females of the local community will not look, or shield the view with their hands if they are travelling past at anytime.As we fly alongside Kata Tjuta, the randomness of these formations becomes very apparent.There is one point behind the mass, where you can see the three in a row. Away in the very background, right on the horizon you can just make out Mt Connor, in the middle is Uluru and right in front of us, Kata Tjuta. They actually all line up in a straight line which is somewhat fascinating in itself.
Here too, the colours change with the light. From bright oranges to moody greeny greys, the colours you see are quite intriguing.
After being wowed by this mass of rock peaks, we begin our return to the airport. Our pilot points out the way to Darwin and Perth, and showing us the salt lakes in the distance. This area was many years ago an inland sea. Before long, the coral reef which still remains, is just below us, stretching for kilometres across the landscape.
From up here the reefs are actually very obvious, quite incredible to think this entire area was fully covered by seawater. Hence the salt lakes which contain the salt left behind after the water evaporated.Oh theres the airport, relief! The ride has been very smooth, not really any bumps and sudden drops, luckily!Our driver is waiting, with the next group safely encased inside the van, as we commence that really long, slow hover just above the ground, before finally chopper gently meets tarmac and we are back on firm land again.
Our turn now for the photos in front of chopper, time to reel off a few more shots then its back to hotel, for a welcome wine to celebrate our survival! In all seriousness though, staff were nothing less than efficient, helpful and friendly. Thank you Ayers Rock Helicopters, we really enjoyed our memory creating experience!More photos from Dine Live Travel on Instagram, facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. Feel free to comment or contact firstname.lastname@example.org if we can assist you in any way. Hope you enjoyed your ride!