When we first set off on our journey there were many boxes to tick off our ‘must see’ list, Uluru was at the top. The afternoon before the big day, we secured an awesome free camp spot only 40km away. As we often do, we went for a family walk after we set-up camp and much to our delight we were able to see Uluru from the top of a hill very close by!! We were absolutely ecstatic as we watched the sun go down; feeling proud of how far we’d come, excited for the future and ultimately pretty insignificant and tiny in comparison to the ancient country that we were witness to at that very moment.
Driving towards Uluru at the crack of dawn we were beyond excited, bouncing off walls with joy and happiness! We did all the standard “I see it” and “That’s a big rock” lines but as we drove closer and closer we were all just helplessly in awe and gushing out simple nouns like “Wow”, “Beautiful”, “Amazing”; before simply falling into silence…it is that overwhelmingly awe inducing. We were prepared to be astounded, it’s Uluru, but there are no words to explain really how big and beautiful it really is!!
From a factual point of view, Uluru stands at 348m high and has a circumference of 9.4km…it’s huge! It is the biggest monolith in the entire world! Uluru is made from a sedimentary rock called arkose sandstone and is rich in the mineral feldspar; the weathering of the rock is what gives it such a rich red appearance, the iron minerals in the rock are weathered by water and oxygen in a similar effect to iron rusting. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is Aboriginal land and is jointly managed by its Anangu traditional owners and Parks Australia. The park is recognised by UNESCO as a world heritage area for both its natural and cultural values and is the jewel of Australian tourism. In 1994 it became only the second in the world to be acclaimed for its cultural heritage, honouring the traditional belief system of one the oldest human societies on earth.
There are many smaller walks that you can take at Uluru, all of them beautiful and filled with valuable learning opportunities, but the base walk is the ultimate walking experience. Well we don’t do things by halves and The Rowes went all in on this one!! The base walk is a 10.6km full circuit and the guide book said to allow 3.5hrs…I’m pretty sure the guide book has never walked with our 6 year old son Cam!! We were very happy to walk slowly, breath deeply and immerse ourselves in the experience….and it was magical from beginning to end! Our children were complete troopers, over 10km of walking is quite a task for the best of us but for little legs it’s an even bigger accomplishment. This isn’t our first rodeo and it is fair to say we engaged almost every parental tactic to keep our children happy and awe-inspired the entire way around. Of course there was a fair bit to look at and naturally enjoy without even trying but for times when we had to dig deep there was singing (our faves included “Raining on the rock” John Williamson style and “There’s a hole in my bucket” because who doesn’t love repetitive chants!!!!); dancing; jumping with heel clapping; snacking and just a little bit of fibbing (“We’re over halfway already”…that one got plucked out less than a third of the way around, hehehehe suckers!!!). We kept encouraging Cam, Kady and Kitty to “charge up” on the rocks powers and frankly Ulurus magical powers are ultimately what really kept them going.
There is so much to see and learn from doing the base walk; it is not just some big rock, it is not just something beautiful to look at…it has history, story, meaning. We saw some of the caves used by the Anangu people for thousands of years and saw just a glimpse of their rich culture as we looked into the Woman’s cave, the Family Cave, Bush Boys cave for teaching non-initiated boys , Old Peoples cave, Men’s cave; all fascinating!!
It was a wonderful and enriching experience to learn about some of the Anangu’s Dreaming stories and understand more fully their outright spiritual and physical connection with the land. Many areas of Uluru can not be photographed as they are sacred sites and can only be viewed firsthand….we urge everyone to go and see with their own eyes this magical, sacred place!!
So much beauty to be seen at Uluru, can not say it enough! Stunning!! Our favourite place was the Mutitjulu Waterhole. We were there at the end of the dry season but even then it contains a permanent waterhole that is breathtakingly beautiful.
The artwork to be seen is AMAZING!!
The universe really looked after us on our big walk day too; we had been casually walking for about 5 hours with the threat of rain urging us on for at least the final 3km…the first drops of rain literally pitter patted down as we touched our car feeling legendary!! How lucky are we!! We also went back to Uluru the next day as well and enjoyed a casual drive around the base with a newfound respect and interest in the rock itself. We also reminded our children that they have outright bragging rights for life for pulling off such a feat in such a positive manner. After our drive we enjoyed looking around the cultural centre there and immersing ourselves a little further into the culture. Our favourite talk unquestionably was on Bush Tucker!! We love the concept of self-sufficiency and living off the land and there is no question that the First Australians are bosses when it comes to that topic!!
What an amazing, memorable and thoroughly worthwhile experience! How lucky are we….Wahoo!!