Little bears are relaxing after a very busy and very early morning.
Yulara is a very small town established in the 1970s to service Ayers Rock Resort, in turn established to service (and control) the tourism to Uluru. The resort was designed by Philip Cox & Associates and won the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) Sir Zelman Cowen Award in 1984, also the year it became fully operational. There are less than 1000 residents in Yulara and most are workers in the resort or tour operators.
You can reach the area by plane with direct flights to Connellan Airport (Ayers Rock Airport) from Melbourne, Sydney, Alice Springs and Cairns. It is a 3 hour flight from Melbourne or Sydney. Driving to Uluru from pretty much anywhere is a long, long drive. The nearest town is Alice Springs, a 5-6 hour drive away.
The flight from Melbourne was fully booked and full of overseas visitors. The signs at the exit from the airport acknowledge this.
As you leave the airport you also get a glimpse of the big red rock you came to see.
Lesson number one. If at all possible, you don’t come to Uluru in summer (December, January, February). The best time to visit is between May and September. The weather is cooler, making it easier and safer to walk. Also, at this time of year, the colours of the rock are more vibrant and you are more likely to see the hidden surprises of Uluru – waterfalls, plants and animals.
In summer the weather is extremely warm, with temperatures often over 36 degrees Celsius, at which point the weather is declared extreme. So the weather is extreme about half the year! Uluru is a beautiful but harsh environment. Heat exhaustion, dehydration and hyponatraemia are very real dangers here. In summer it is best if you visit Uluru – Kata Tjuta Park only in the early morning before 11am (the park opens at 5am). You also need plenty of water, the recommended intake is one litre per hour! An electrolyte product (Hydralyte / Gastrolyte) might help as well if hyponatraemia is an issue. It is best if you wear a hat, strong shoes and plenty of sunscreen. A head net to protect you from flies might also be really handy. I mean, far out! When walking in the park, stick to the marked tracks and the designated visitor areas.
We met a number of people this weekend who made their booking when the Field of Light Uluru exhibition was scheduled to close on 31 March. The exhibition has been extended to 31 March 2018, which is great news, but we obviously all decided that it was too much hassle to reschedule everything.
We started the day bright and early with a 5am visit to the Field of Light. It is amazing. More on this later. And the light show on the ground was complemented by a light show in the sky. We saw the Emu in the Sky!
The Emu is stretched across the Milky Way and the Southern Cross marks the head of the emu. The Emu in the Sky has featured in Aboriginal storytelling for thousands of years.
The resort has a Town Square with a supermarket, post office, bank, newsagent, cafes and souvenir / art shops. There is plenty of Aboriginal art, but not a cherry in sight! The town is really small, it takes at most 15 minutes walk from any point in town to the Town Square. In extreme heat that could be a very uncomfortable 15 minutes so there is a shuttle bus that operates between 10:30am and midnight that goes round and round every 20 minutes, between the six stops along the route.
Ayers Rock Resort provides a variety of accommodation options, with two hotels, self-contained apartments, a lodge and a campground. We went for the room with a view…
… but little bears are foregoing the view to cool off in the air-conditioned comfort of the room 🙂