My journey to the geographic center of Australia was not driven purely by my desire to see Uluru, the formal aboroginal name for what is popularly known as Ayer’s rock. I made the trek, through a vast arid region of Australia, to see if Uluru was worthy of making.
The dREAMSCAPE Family Bucket List.
Like most journeys of this kind, you almost never find what you expect, and nothing can prepare you for what you find. Rising up larger than life from rust-colored desert, the rock makes you feel incredibly small, as you would imagine a rock the size of many sport stadiums. Then the magic happens.
In the late afternoon its deep brown becomes a deep claret red. Then, as the setting sun reflects off stray clouds, it begin s to burn an iridescent orange, like a giant ember fanned by the wind, finally, this brightness fades to purple and finally black into the darkness accompanied by the view of what appears to be every star in the universe. The sight of Uluru changing colors as the sun sets over the endless Australian outback will stay with me forever.
Since 2011 the Northern Territories and the local Aborigine, have enforced stricter rules surrounding visits to Uluru for a number of solid reasons. The Aboriginal peoples believe that Uluru is a sacred place and a central point in the dreaming tracks that criss-cross the land. Meanwhile the Australian government wishes to protect both the sanctity of the land for Aboriginals as well as this designated World Heritage Site from being destroyed by hoards of tourists stampeding through Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Some welcomed regulations simply deal with effective crowd control. Dedicated Uluru sunset and sunrise viewing areas are now in place along the road as the only places where you are allowed to stop. One is no longer allowed to leave the bitumen and wander off into the dune area unaccompanied. While it is possible, there are very few tour operators licensed to serve alcohol or access restricted areas to provide private, quiet spaces to witness the changing of the rock’s colors. Unfortunately, the majority of guests now find themselves standing in large groups of tourists, on crowded buses and in a constant struggle for limited, gated views.
However, there are ways to maximize local insights and leverage your dollar.
One suggestion is to take in the glowing red sunsets Uluru by booking your own private jeep and experienced guide who can not only take you to the best spots directly, but also serve champagne and fresh juices for the family whilst having an afternoon picnic with delicious finger food. Free from the crunch of other tourists your family is free to experience the rock as the first people from the Europe did, in peace and quiet.