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Ayers Rock (Uluru) Northern Territory, Australia
Ayers Rock has been known as Uluru since it was returned to the Aboriginal owners, Anangu, in 1985. The Rock is situated 450 km west of Alice Springs in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which covers over 132,000 ha.
Uluru is one of Australia's most famous landmarks and is the country's most visited site. The mysterious red rock is the weathered peak of a buried mountain range and raises some 430 meters from the desert and has a perimeter of about 9km (5.5 miles). People often wonder why it is the colour red. This is due to iron minerals in the surface rocks oxidizing with the air.
Ayers Rock History
In 1980, Baby Azaria Chamberlain disappeared while she and her parents were camping near Ayers Rock. Her mother Lindy Chamberlain reported that Azaria had been taken by a dingo, sparking the most publicized trial in Australian history.
Climbing Ayers Rock
The local indigenous community requests that visitors respect the sacred status of Ayers Rock by not climbing the rock. Nevertheless, they do not prevent people climbing Ayers Rock, an activity that remains popular with many visitors. A rope handhold makes the climb easier, but it is still quite a long and steep climb and many climbers give up before reaching the top. There are several deaths a year as a direct result of climbing Ayers Rock, mainly from heart failure. It is an individual's choose whether to do the climb or not. It was our choose not to but friends we traveled with did but gave up before reaching the top. But I have to admit the MOST exciting part of our trip was climbing that Rock. It was very hard and at times I did not think any of us would make it but after several hours we made it and I cannot describe the feeling when we finally reached the top. The view was breath taking and unlike anything I have ever seen before.
Safety Tips when Climbing the Rock
All visitors are given some Safety Tips to follow if they decide to climb the Rock:
Closure of the Uluru Climb
For safety reasons the climb is closed under certain circumstances. Our climb was cancelled twice because of extreme heat conditions. For safety reasons the climb will be Heat-closed at 8.00am if the forecast maximum temperature for Yulara is 36 degrees centigrade or more. It can also be closed if the estimated wind speed is to high or if there is 20% chance of rain within three hours of your climb.
The rock is also closed from half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise. You might even find you cannot climb the rock due to Cultural Reasons, this happened to us on our first planned climb. It was closed upon request from Traditional Owners following a death or due to a cultural event or ceremony occurring by the Aborigines.
But the primary reasons for the closure of the climb are temperature and wind conditions during the Australian Summer months. That is why it is a good idea to visit the rock in winter or spring months if you want to Climb it.
Colour Changes Throughout The Day
As we approached Ayers Rock it appeared to change colour, the sandstone taking on various hues of red, purple, orange, green and yellow, depending on the weather conditions and how far away from the rock you are standing.
Traveling To Ayers Rock
Ayers Rock is roughly at the center of Australia, and is about 1800km from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin and Perth. Most people choose to fly to Ayers Rock and we found Qantas have direct services to Connelan Airport, which is a short drive from Ayers Rock Resort. We chose to fly with Virgin Blue to Alice Springs and then transfer onwards by Qantas Air shuttle to Connelan Airport.
It took us 4 and half hours to drive to Ayers Rock from Alice Springs. The Alice Springs to Yulara Bus and the return Yulara to Alice Springs Shuttle Bus also operate.
While at Ayers Rock you must dine under the stars of the Red Center night skies at the award winning Sounds of Silence Restaurant. You are taken to a secluded dining setting in the middle of the desert where you can sip on a glass of champagne with the sound of a lone didgeridoo filling the air as the sun slowly sets over the Kata Tjuta and Uluru. We got to dine on gourmet BBQ which includes Australian delicacies such as Kangaroo, barramundi and buffalo, we then got to sit back and take in the mystery of the desert at night as an astronomer takes you on a tour of the clear Southern night skies.
Ayers Rock Climate
Whatever the season, each day of your stay in the Top En guarantees something different, it's just a matter of choosing the season which best suits your interests and fits in with your holiday schedule. The Top End is known as a "land of two summers", which means lots of sunshine even during the Wet Season.
To appreciate the seasonal changes remember the WET is from November through to April, the DRY is from May to October, and whilst the Dry is the most popular for holidays in the Top End, the Wet delivers the Northern Territory its most beautiful scenery such as waterfalls, rivers and creeks which meld into a giant floodplains and lush tropical growth. January and February is the height of summer and the heart of the Wet when monsoon weather dumps heavy afternoon and overnight rain.
Average temperatures range from 24.4 degree Centigrade to 38.4 degrees Centigrade. March and April average temperatures range from 24.3 degrees Centigrade to 32.3 degrees Centigrade. The May to September period is known as the Dry and is the most popular time of the year with visitors and locals. The humidity is at its lowest and the nights relatively cool. Average temperatures range from 21 degrees to 31.3 degrees. October to December is the pre-monsoon period when it becomes increasingly humid with occasional rain. We traveled to the Rock in July this is part of the Dry season and we found it the best especially for the humidity. It was nice during the day and cool at nights.
I must warn you. A trip to Uluru is also about experiencing and understanding its cultural and Spiritual significance. Uluru has a great cultural significance for theAnangu traditional landowners, you can Self Discover this or take a guided tour that informs about the local flora and fauna, bush foods and the Aboriginal Dreamtime stories of the area. This was the most exciting and interesting part of the trip for me. You will learn a lot about the Australian Aboriginal cultures.
Also in this enormous park are many Aboriginal sacred sites, spectacular scenery and famous rock formations. One of the high lights of our trip was a visit to the Olgas/ Kata Tjuta, a dramatic series of 36 dome-like rock formations which stand up to 1.701ft (546m) high and cover an area of 35 km and like Uluru, produce an incredible light show at sunset, with crimsons turning to rusts, and pinks to mauves.
Things to do
While visiting Ayers Rock you must take a peaceful 1 hour camel ride over big red sand dunes in cool clear morning air to watch the sunrise over Uluru & Kata Tjuta. You will be guided by skilled guides who will describe the flora and fauna along the trail & the best part serve billy tea and freshly baked beer-bread. You can also take a Sunset camel ride where you get wine, beer and snacks while you take in the sunset.
One of the most popular attractions is the Sound of Silence Restaurant. This is an award winning restaurant where you travel out to a private dining setting in the middle of the desert. You can sip on a glass of champagne with the sound of a lone didgeridoo filling the air as the sun slowly sets over Uluru. This is a must although a bit pricie at $145 per adult it is well worth it.
Before leaving our Ayers Rock holiday, we took the advice of locals and joined in on Aboriginal Tour. This tour begins with sunrise and includes a short tour at the base of Uluru and a restaurant breakfast at the culture centre. You learn the meaning and history of Uluru as passed down from ancestors on the Liru Walk. Aboriginal guides lead all tours speaking in their own langage, with a skilled interpreter translating into English. This was fasinating. Ayers Rock has so many spiritual places. The tour will take 4.5 to 5.5 hrs depending on sunrise times and departs 1 hr prior to sunrise daily. By the end of your stay you will really get to know and hopefully learn to love the many different types of meat and BBQ's you can try while touring Ayres Rock. I'm still not sure about Kangaroo meat yet I am told it takes a bit of getting used to. To me it taste a bit like chicken . Just the thought of eating Kangroo though puts me off a bit but it is worth a try.
While there are many types of Accommodation at Ayres Rock and surrounding areas, being a family that just love camping in the outback we decided to stay at Longitude 131°, here we experienced the outback in fifteen luxury tents set on an isolated sand dune close to the border of Uluru and the National Park. As one of only 30 guests, you awake to your own private view of the sun rising over Uluru (Ayers Rock). With some of the most amazing views you'll ever see, Longitude 131 assures you a uniquely personal experience with of the world's most awesome natural wonders. Longitude 131 is an Australian first in so many ways. So if you like camping but miss the luxury ways as well this is the place to stay. At least I could still use my hairdryer. You can camp but still have the comforts of home.
If you are looking for a great budget Accommodation the Outback Pioneer Hotel is recommended. It is about one of the cheapest Hotel's you will find while staying at Ayers Rock. Outback Pioneer
Article written by Lee-anne Latham