Australia is a country with so much to offer - buzzing cities, peaceful shores, adrenaline filled experiences and brunches in abundance. But if you’re after the real deal, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is where it’s at. This 700 million year old spot is steeped in history, and is perhaps the ultimate icon of this great land. It may well look and feel like you’re in the midst of emptiness, but this remote location is well worth the visit, located a mere 462 km from Alice Springs, a remote town in Australia's Northern Territory. Aside from the main event of Uluru, Lake Amadeus in the southwest corner of Australia’s Northern Territory is another travel must offering a mesmerising texture of colours, whilst Kata Tjuṯa is another favourite. This large rock formation makes up the second largest landmark in this national park and you can hike, climb or take a scenic flight around this area.
But let’s take it back to the terracotta World Heritage site which lies in the Simpson Desert, aka Urlulu. The 348m high rock originally sat at the bottom of the sea and has been created over the past 600 million years. The site is of huge cultural significance to Aboriginal Australians, and is today one of the world’s great natural wonders. If your planning to tour Ayers Rock, expect to have a physical and spiritual experience as the sheer scale of the site is likely to take your breath away.
Walking, hiking and adventure based activities are all available around the rock, and that’s before we’ve even covered the spiritual significance. Each feature of the site has a meaning in 'Tjukurpa' or Dreamtime, the traditional Anangu law that explains how the world was created, whilst the decorative aboriginal paintings in the caves tell stories of everything from vital information about water to religious beliefs. If you want to get the full lowdown on what's what, then head over to the Uluṟu Cultural Centre, located at the base of Uluru, where you’ll get an introduction to Anangu culture and traditions. Want to take your Uluru experience to the next level? Visiting the World Heritage Site at sunrise or sunset is something pretty incredible. The rock constantly changes colour throughout the day, resulting in an ever changing palette of rich reds, oranges, blues and even purples.
Once you’ve digested the sheer scale of this place, it’s time to understand the nitty gritty of what it’s all about and why it has such spiritual significance. The Uluṟu Cultural Centre, located at the base of Uluru, provides an introduction to Anangu culture and traditions. You’ll get up to scratch on Aboriginal culture and get the inside scoop on the meaning of the rocks and cave paintings which sit within. The building's locally-made mud bricks are an architectural award winning masterpiece, and you can support local Aboriginal artists by buying artwork and other locally made goods. Once you’re all cultured out, why not head to the cafe for a light refreshment and a browse through some local souvenirs.
You thought sunrises at Uluru were great? We’ve got news for you - sunsets are just that little bit more incredible. And the reason why? Evening nibbles and drinks of course. That’s right, Uluru tours just wouldn't be complete without cracking open a few beers or a glass or two of vino, digging into some treats and enjoying one of the finest natural shows on earth - the Uluru sunset show. Watch the rock formations and skies turn into a flurry of colours as dark descends in the midst of the Australian Outback. If you want to keep the light show going after sunset, the Field of Light illuminations are your answer. With lights as far as the eye can see, this seasonal exhibition covers more than seven football fields worth of desert, bringing the landscape out of darkness with 50,000 spindles of light.
To fully understand the vastness of this landscape, the endless stretches of deep red nothing and the sacred sites of Uluru and Kata Tjuṯa, there’s only one way to do it - from up above. A scenic helicopter flight will have you cruising over the Australian Outback, taking in a sight most in the world will never get to see. By this time you’ll be familiar with Uluru and Kata Tjuṯa from all angles, but viewing them from above will throw up a whole new realm of understanding and awe. New colours, shapes and intricacies will take you by surprise, and you won’t for a second regret the extra cash it cost for this once in a lifetime experience. The flight lasts around 40 minutes and will also offer you some informative commentary on the aerial views, all thanks to your pilot. And the best bit? Your pilot will also take you near the eastern face of Kata Tjuta, which is not accessible to the public. Bonus!