September 12, 2016

Day 1060 – Uluru

I had heard a great deal about the Uluru – The Aires rock – prior to coming to Australia and whilst I was fortunate enough to visit many of the cities, I didn’t think I would make it to Uluru.  It is in the centre of Australia, flights are not cheap and it is not easy to get to without a car or booking a tour. That said, after securing my second position in Alice Springs, it came to light that the Uluru is not far.  Thus, it made sense to book a tour and to pay the Uluru a visit.  I have a fair few Australian friends but very few who have ventured out to the rock.  It is cheaper for Australians to travel aboard then within their own country and consequently, few opt to travel to the Uluru.  I myself wasn’t going to venture out this way but given I am only a hour or so away and subsequently it is not as expensive, I decided to book a trip.

I would have loved to share my experience with friends I worked with and shared many a good laughs with in Townsville.  My friends in Townsville were eager to go to the Uluru and were more excited than me when I told them about my trip.  One such friend was adamant that the Uluru should be a world wonder if it wasn’t already.  This made me smile and we spent the evening debating what a world wonder comprises of and who in essences decides whether or not something is a world wonder.  It was quite the discussion and we had to agree to disagree in the end.  I can understand, without having visited the Uluru, that it is not and should not be world wonder.  This is not to say that I do not think it is amazing however, there are many a marvellous, breath taking, beautiful temples and/or sites in the world which are a not a world wonder.  Take Angkor Watt for instance, which, is historical, beautiful and the largest religious monument in the world but it is not a wonder.

I booked my tour and told one of my friend’s, who is more like my uncle then a friend. I met him during my tour in Namibia last year.  He is lives down south in Australia and whilst he has been to the Uluru it was many years ago.  Thus, he was keen to venture out again and given that we were booking a tour, we would also get to explore Kings Canyon, which some backpackers disclosed as being more amazing than the Uluru.  I was excited to be going and whist, of course, one could spend more time, I felt three days was better than nothing.  Our tour group was a good mix of people and I got along well with this American backpacker and Dutch traveller.  I also had the privilege of meeting an French women who was exploring Australia, Adelaide in particular, whilst also catching up with her good Australian friend.

The first night we spent enjoying the sunset over the Uluru.  Of course, this moment was shared with many a backpackers, travellers and families.   The ground was packed with people all wanting to catch the sunset.  It made me a little uncomfortable given it is sacred to the Indigenous Australians so it felt like we were all intruding.  The tour guide explained why they discouraged people from climbing the rock but despite this we had people on the tour that wanted to go up.  I couldn’t understand it myself and had no intention of going up.  We caught the sunrise the next day which was beautiful and got to walk all around the Uluru.  There were other tour groups and people doing the same but not as much traffic as yesterday.  The final day was spent exploring the Kings Canyon and quite frankly, I could have spent hours walking and exploring it further.

Overall impression of the Uluru was amazing, yes it is breathtakingly beautiful and yes I would go again.  Like many cities and tours in Australia, it is not cheap but that said, it is worth the effort.  I enjoy and appreciate raw nature and beauty more so in a country then any large city.  So whilst Melbourne has beautiful street art and Sydney has a buzz, Alice Springs is amazing and appeals to me a great deal more.  It is a small town which some argue, little to offer, but it suits me just fine.  There are plenty of drives and adventures available, there is a community spirit and along with it many markets, festivals and activities to get involved in.  The icing on the cake is the fact that the Uluru is a short drive away.  Thus, for all of us who do not need to be surrounded by large shopping malls and designer brands, Alice Springs has a fair deal to offer.  But with any town or city, it is essentially what one makes of it.  The outback has a different feel but offers something far more unique and authentic.