There’s really not a lot I can I say or show you in photos that are going to improve your vision of Ayer’s Rock if you’ve never seen it before. You’ve probably seen it in photos, from different perspectives and heard about it in various articles, just like I had. The reality of the monolith though is that it has to be seen in person to appreciate it. The only way to gauge how big it is, to appreciate how it changes colours every second and to truly feel how this special place became the heart of Australia, is to travel here yourself.
We aren’t insured to travel in the Northern Territory at night because of the dangers of wildlife on the roads so we had to stay at Yulara, the Ayer’s Rock camping resort, for at least one night. Despite our concerns over their monopoly on camping in the area, they were reasonably priced at $36 per night. We spent lunchtime going to the rock itself and having a walk round and learning about the history of the national park. Due to a combination of the flies and the heat we only did a short walk but felt comfortable that the best view of Uluru came from afar.
It seemed bizarre to us that despite the repeated pleas from the aboriginal tribes in the area for people not to climb the rock, tourists kept going up, putting themselves at a huge risk as well as being unbelievably disrespectful to the culture that welcomes them to their land. There doesn’t appear to be any reason to make the climb either considering the view from the top is completely barren and you’re standing on the sight you travelled thousands of miles to see. At the end of the day, until they ban the climb outright, it is each to their own. All I can say is that whereas some people will leave the rock and vainly say they made it to the top, I can come away from the sacred place and proudly say that I didn’t.
In the afternoon we drove over to Kata Tjuta which is absolutely as impressive as Uluru but less famous. Although it is not a lone rock, the collections of massive boulders still makes for impressive viewing and is well worth the trip, particularly if Uluru is busy.
Finally we made our way to the sunset viewing area in order to get the best spot. We were visiting out of the peak season but the car park still filled up so I’d advise getting there early.
The rock’s colour change was impressive to say the least but the majority of the sunset’s colours were behind us so it depends on what you’d like to see. We decided that, because we’d seen the colour change for the sunset, we’d like to see Uluru as a silhouette for the sunrise.
That decision turned out to be spot on because we spent the next morning on our own in the sunset viewing area, away from the loud-mouthed tourists who all went to the sunrise viewing area. The sunrise was spectacular and as the sun peaked we drove round to the join everyone else and still saw the rock at its reddest. I would definitely recommend to do things in the same order.
The last thing on our list was a trip to Kings Canyon, a four hour return trip out of our way. We should have read up on the sight beforehand but unfortunately it really wasn’t very impressive. The creek is about one kilometre long and pretty enough but there wasn’t enough to justify the trip. Maybe if we’d had time to do the rim walk then it may have been incredible but I’m still not convinced. My advice: if you have a 4WD then visit because you can continue straight to Alice Springs. If not, don’t waste your time or your money.