Saturday, 14 July 2012

Visiting One of the ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature’: Uluru

Guest Post

Rising from a now vanished sea to stand proud, demanding the attention of all who visit is Uluru, or Ayers Rock.

Situated in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the southern part of the Northern Territory in central Australia, this large sandstone rock formation seems misplaced surrounded by miles of flat expanse.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen anything quite as spectacular as Uluru, which is not surprising considering it also happens to be inscribed on the World Heritage list and is one of Australia’s most iconic symbols.

While here I stayed at Yulara, which is about 11 miles from Uluru. For those who are driving this is an option to consider instead of driving the distance back to Alice Springs which is about a 4-5 hour drive. At the Yulara Resort you can find budget accommodation for those camping to five star Uluru hotels. In the resort itself you can expect to find restaurants, an art gallery, a swimming pool, shops, a mini market and lush greenery, making it a pleasant stop over for a good night’s rest.

Known as an inselberg, which is a lone rock that rises from a flat or slightly sloping plain, the sheer size of Uluru takes a moment or two to take in. Combine that with the fact that surrounding it is a vastness of flat land it’s not hard to miss on the horizon. But, what we see is definitely not all of it.

Measuring in at 348 metres high, about 863 metres above sea level, this massive iceberg shaped rock has most of its bulk underground. Standing near to Uluru you can only imagine the true extent to how much bigger it could be. If ever there was a time when I could appreciate how tiny and insignificant an ant might feel among us humans it was now looking up at the bulk of Uluru.

Notable for changing its colour to a glowing red during the hours of dawn and sunset this is the time when most people venture to catch the best glimpse of Uluru. Of course, even if you can’t make the time to visit at these hours simply seeing it when you can is still an awe inspiring experience.

Even though Uluru was named in 1873 by surveyor William Gosse as Ayers Rock after Sir Henry Ayers the then Chief Secretary of South Australia, Aboriginal culture and Uluru has been intertwined far longer than that. The rock is thought to have been created more than 600 million years ago, while the Aborigines have lived in the area for the past 10,000 years. Today, rituals are still held in many of the caves, but it’s important to note that photography of any kind is not permitted.

Before having the chance to visit Uluru I looked at pictures and read up on the history to understand more about it. While the pictures give you some sense of what to expect in terms of size, I felt that actually seeing it for real didn’t do it justice. Once again, it was easy for me to feel insignificant as I stood before it.

For those visiting Uluru walking around the base of it is highly recommended. Depending on your walking speed this can take several hours, but is definitely worth it considering the amount of flora and fauna that can be seen. It is believed that 21 native species live around Uluru.

However, in order to respect the wishes of the Aboriginal people it is not recommended to actually climb Uluru. Not only is it a strenuous and steep climb with plenty of strong summit winds, but the climbing track suggested trespasses through an Aboriginal sacred site.
The track itself is only one mile long, but depending on how fit you are this could take two hours to complete. Even if you don’t climb Uluru the experience you have will be hard to put into words, but is definitely a visit that will stay with you forever.

Rebecca Campbell is a freelance writer who loves travelling and experiencing the many wonders each country has to offer. Her latest travel experience has been to Australia where she has been looking into houses for rent with homesales.

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