In my opinion, if you are a first timer seeing Uluru then the Desert Awakenings tour is definitely where you should start. Yes, if you have a car you can get there yourself but what you miss out on by doing that is the experienced tour guides who give you so much invaluable information, geological history of the area as well as and if not most importantly, the traditional Aboriginal Dream Time stories associated with Uluru. That in itself is an experience that just should not be missed. Ever!
You’re picked up from your hotel in the wee hours of the morning, before the sun rises, and whisked away on a 4WD tour truck that requires a step ladder to enter. Yep, this beast was huge, but obviously well needed when you look at some of the roads and sand dunes it drives over.
First stop is a secluded sand dune to watch golden hour. The sky turning from black, to dark blue, to light blue, to a vivid red as the sun comes up over the horizon. And this my friends is where you capture your first glimpse of Uluru in the morning. Bathed in the sunlight, you witness the rock change colour from dark brown, to purple. It really is a spectacular sight at times I had a hard time deciding whether to look at the ever changing sky or the ever changing colours of the rock. And then there was Kata Tjuta behind me, so spoilt for choice! Some perfect photo opportunities in this moment for those with dslr cameras.
Breakfast is served on top of the sand dune and let me tell you, it’s a beautiful mix of coffee, bacon and egg rolls and traditional damper with indigenous herbs. Yum
From there it’s a climb back into the truck to the base of Uluru itself. An early start to hopefully beat the hordes of tourists and school groups that never seem to end. Firstly we are driven part way around the rock, to a base where the guide allows us time to ourselves to get up close and personal with Uluru. And this is where you can see those who chose to climb Uluru look like tiny little ants bent over at the hip moving ever so slowly. We are pre-warned about the deaths that have occurred both on the rock and after climbing the rock, but most importantly we are told of the sacred significance of Uluru to the local Indigenous community, what the area means to them and why people are encouraged not to climb the rock. The Australian government has banned climbing the rock as of October 2019 and together with the locals are encouraging people not to climb, yet amazingly people still do. I don’t get it really, and find it quite insulting to the locals.
After climbing back on the bus, we are driven around a side of the rock where we are asked not to take photos. Reason being that the rock itself has markings on the face of it that are significant to ‘man’ (as opposed to ‘woman’) history in the Dreamtime so if photos are shared online or anywhere else it spells trouble.
The drive around the rock is approximately 10 kms of gorgeousness. We stop in at the Mutitjulu Waterhole which is at the base of Uluru and whilst it’s a dry sunny day, you get a real understanding of how this area can flood in the heavy rains. Not too far from the Mutitjulu Waterhole is a small cave area which houses some rock art that dates back over 5000 years. Incredibly in the 1950’s some of this ancient art was hosed off by the white man, for what reason I don’t know but it still leaves me horrified and deeply saddened.
We have an hour to spare before heading back to our respective hotels and this is spent in the Uluru/Kata Tjuta cultural centre. There’s a historical display and movie to watch as well as a café, art shop and gift shop. The art shop is definitely worth a visit as on any given day an artist will be working away and this is mesmerising to watch.
As mentioned previously, if you’re new to the area I would highly advise doing this tour. The tour guides study bachelor degrees in aboriginal history in order to be able to take people out so it is well worth sitting in on listening To the stories of natural and cultural significance. It’s really easy to get caught up into listening to the Dreamtime stories and marvel in the geological nature of the area. One thing that really caught me off-guard was how deeply I would feel about Uluru and it’s people. I really don’t know if you would get that feeling without a great understanding of the significance of Uluru to this country and it’s people.
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