Visiting Ayres Rock has been on my bucket list for a long long time, but sometimes when you really build yourself up for something it then disappoints – Ayres Rock certainly did NOT disappoint.
We did unfortunately get a couple of excursions cancelled, including a sunrise flight over Uluru and Kata Tjuta but it didn’t stop us having the most magical 3 days there.
Obviously had I not been travelling as a lone parent with a 7 yr old child then I might have done things a little differently, spent more time hiking, earlier mornings, later nights etc but it didn’t matter because we both loved every second and there really is something to do for pretty much every age group and level of ability.
I was a little concerned that as with many natural tourist attractions throughout the world that the Ayres Rock area may have become over commercialised and spoilt but it certainly was not the case.
Just flying in towards Ayres Rock makes you realise how isolated the area is – red sand outback for as far as you can see and then suddenly this huge red rock appears on the horizon and what looks to be tiny strip of runway..and that’s pretty much it!
First view of Ayres Rock whilst coming in to land.
Spot the runway….
The airport is very small with just one baggage carousel. You can hire a car from the airport or there are AAT Kings coaches all ready to provide a free shuttle service to your hotel. These same coaches provide free service throughout the day every 20 mins between all the voyages resort hotels, the camp ground and the town square.
The voyages hotels are all very close to each other and all designed to perfectly blend in with the local landscape. You won’t find high rise hotels here, but all low level architecture painted in natural colours.
We stayed at the Outback Pioneer hotel. We was only 2.5 star accommodation in what felt like an old army cabin – but it was honestly one of the best places we have stayed in. It had character, it had atmosphere, we met the most interesting and fun people, it was just brilliant. Evenings were spent outside in the communal outback barn area where their was a bar, nightly barbecue and live country music. The Outback Pioneer gave exactly that feeling, this was true Australia living and we absolutely loved it.
I understand that the Voyages hotels are still owned & managed by the indigenous people which probably explains why the resort is so tastefully built and preserved. Although virtually everyone in the area is a tourist it didn’t have that touristy feel to it that so many places have. (I’m also still trying to work out where the hotel staff actually live as we didn’t see any housing in the area!
Ayres Rock is massive and apparently stands taller than the Eiffel Tower. It is also known as a ‘land iceberg’ because just like an Iceberg around 2/3 of it are below the surface of the earth. The rock is 348m tall and is 9.4km in circumference.
Something else which I learnt whilst I was there is that the rock is actually black. It only gets its red appearance due to the iron ore rich red sand which had blown across it for 1000’s of years and basically ingrained itself into the rock surface.
Our resort was around 15km from Ayres Rock and it is from that distance that you capture photos of the whole rock. Once you get up close to it only then do you truly appreciate its size and magnitude and it is then impossible to photograph in its entirety.
Kata Tjuta (also known as the Olgas) is also situated within the same national part although is around 26km away. Although not as famous as Uluru it stands equally magnificent on the landscape and is steeped in Indigenous history and significance.
When Cameron is a bit older I would love to take him back again so we can do more and appreciate more of the history and heritage.
Our top 3 highlights this tours were:
1) Camel to Sunset Ride
2) Aboriginal dot painting workshop
3) Field of Light Tour
We could have course done our Australian itinerary in any order but in hindsight I am so glad we left Ayres Rock until last. There was something very special and very magical about spending our last night in Australia watching the sun set on Uluru and then walking through the stillness of the field of lights whilst staring up to the skies and seeing stars like I have never ever experienced before in my life.
There are no words and no pictures to truly portray the experience. It has to been seen and felt to be understood. So if Ayres Rock is still on your bucket list to visit ‘just do it’ you will not be disappointed.