Uluru will woo you

U is for ULURU

Once again we’re off to the Red Centre today, right to the cultural, geographic and iconic heart of Australia, Uluru or Ayers Rock as it used to be known.

The colours of the desert and the Red Centre.
The colours of the desert and the Red Centre.

I can’t imagine there’d be too many of my readers who won’t have seen an image of this monolith either in a TV show or in a book.  Perhaps you might think that, like the EiffelTower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you’ve seen it so often “virtually” that’s there’s little point in actually visiting. You expect that you’ll arrive and think “oh, yes, that’s what it’s supposed to look like”.

Uluru colours

We were surprised when we visited Uluru on a long road trip from Brisbane via Adelaide, that it actually took our breath away. Like many we were initially fooled by Mt Connor with its look-alike appearance, but when you see the real thing, you’re in no doubt. I had no difficulty believing the Aboriginal sense of its religious significance. It may seem strange to say that a large lump of rock has an aura, but we found that it did. There is just something about it that holds you in thrall. Perhaps all those centuries of humans around it have imparted some human spirit as well.

Hidden nooks, crannies and eco[systems.
Hidden nooks, crannies and eco-systems.
I have a fear of heights so had no inclination whatsoever to climb the rock and was happy to abide by the local Aboriginal people’s request not to do so. Our two then-teenaged daughters did go to the top and took their time steadily getting there. I doubt that having lived in the Territory for so long now that they’d ever climb it again.

uluru close up
Huge variations in the rock face add interest and mystery.

Apart from the cultural prohibitions, there are practical reasons not to climb. It’s far from uncommon for people to die high up the rock from exertion, heat stroke or whatever. This means that the poor emergency service workers have to put their own lives at risk to get someone down.

Sunset over Uluru with a view to Kata Tjuta.
Sunset over Uluru with a view to Kata Tjuta.

There are alternative activities which will give you a much better sense of the place and my favourite was walking around the base looking at the colonies of plants and animals and seeing the impact of the heavy rains. I only wish we’d been there when it rained! If you’re there and it pours, don’t bemoan your fate, dash out with your camera and get some amazing photos. Check out this story about how a local photographer captured Uluru in a downpour. I’d give my eye teeth to see it running with rain like this and I was green as a shamrock when some of my work colleagues fluked exactly that.

The finger-like detail of the rock face.
The finger-like detail of the rock face.

We have some special memories of our camping stay at nearby Yulara. The ice on the water bucket in the morning (it was sub-zero) and the sound of our daughters tossing and turning under their heat blanket (they forgot their parkas when they left home to catch the plane to meet us). The sounds of the didgeridoo and singing from a corroboree nearby, and the howl of the dingoes.

One of the things this A to Z has done for me, is remind me how many places we need to revisit ourselves.

Why visit: to see Australia’s red heart and an iconic site. To learn more about Indigenous culture and life in the desert.


Not much to add here today so I’ll add a complete red-herring:

Rellie Run: the compulsory visit to the family interstate, very common in a place with many transient residents and where few have deep roots in the state. Hard to believe we’re now a three generation Territory family….where did the years go.

 Up the creek without a paddle: no hope

22 thoughts on “Uluru will woo you

    1. Thanks C B. I’m sure that there are other places with equally magnificent colours, just different. I’ve heard of Sedona but never been there.

  1. I have never seen a photograph of Uluru before. It looks amazing. And the rain photographs do too. If I had perfected time travel, I would be there in a flash.

    We do have “up the creek without a paddle”. Never heard the “rellie run” but think I could grow to use it.

    1. Seems like I’ve introduced you to somewhere new Kristin -if we could time travel we’d be zipping everywhere including back to chat to those rellies -a new form of rellie run.

    1. Definitely worth visiting Sharon. Thanks for the compliment on the photos…the colours were magical that time and with the rising moon made it even more special.

  2. I love the title of this post, just rolls off the tongue, might have to work on that.. 🙂

    Our son loved Uluru, as well as the Brolgas. However, he said also that there certainly is a mystical quality to Uluru. On the list…

  3. Another for your “U’ words… my Dad and his siblings, if they weren’t/aren’t feeling too well, use ‘up tuh’ as in up to putty… no good.

  4. Like you I was surprised at the aura of Uluṟu. Prior to visiting I thought ahh it’s just a big rock but it isn’t. There’s definitely something there. We climbed a little way up to the chain but I had no desire to risk the full climb. My eldest ( at the time a mostly disinterested teenager) still complains I wouldn’t let him. We climbed through Kata Tjuta aka the Olga’s instead and took a flight over them and Uluṟu. The aerial views were stunning.

    Mt Connor had us wondering too. It is also very beautiful.

    We had driven from Alice Springs – the back way following a hand drawn map on dirt tracks and in the rain. Out through the Merendie Oil fields driving on outback ruts, sometimes I swear we went in circles , down an escarpment as a huge storm loomed and coming up the back of Kings Canyon skimming in the water across the salt pans to emerge in the car park covered in red mud. Everyone just stared at us from their pristine 4WDs We joined the bitumen road just near Mt Connor. Arrived much later than we expected – it took ages the back way but driving back the conventional way we realised that it has been much less boring.

    One thing about living in the territory is there’s always an adventure and looking back through our photos and souvenirs, we had lots of them. We all learnt a lot in those short 2 years. Best memories 😊

    1. Thanks for sharing your stories Lyn. I chuckled at the “pristine 4WDs”…true one. That would have been an adventure going the back way to Kings Canyon – I assume you had a 4WD, just not pristine 😉 When we went in the early 90s, the normal road in wasn’t bitumen and was very corrugated but the Commodore made it happily.

      Hmm, should keep the idea of a flight in mind if/when we go back.

      1. Our 4WD was 2 weeks old – a company car.

        Thoroughly recommend the flight. You can see all way down to SA up there. It was a rainy Easter but not enough to see flies on the rock just enough to stop us seeing the colour changes at sunrise and sunset. 😟

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