The adventurer inside of me was SCREAMING out to climb Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) in Australia. What does it look like from the top? I heard there were water holes up there, can they be seen? Could I psychically get up there…sounds like a challenge, look there’s even a rope to help! BUT I didn’t. The responsible side of me took over. Not only is it steep and dangerous (I saw people sliding back down on their bums!), the Aboriginals ask you not to out of respect.
The Rock is sacred to the Aboriginals. If someone gets injured or dies during the climb, it distresses them and they blame themselves. There’s a sign at the bottom of the climb that advises against climbing Uluru and why. Rather than dictate and say DON’T climb, it is in their culture to believe that people will choose between what is wrong and what is right. It’s one thing to climb it, but it’s another for people to get to the top, drop their rubbish and go to the toilet. It’s a natural icon, why would they have toilets and bins up there? People should at least have the decency to take their rubbish away with them. There have been arguments that if they don’t like it, why don’t they close it? But on the other hand they are then worried that tourists would stop visiting and they rely on the money that they bring in. Catch 22.
I visited with my friend because it was on her bucket list. When she suggested it I was slightly worried that I’d find it underwhelming, like I had with the Grand Canyon in America. All there really was to do there was hike down into the Canyon, I half expected Ayers Rock to be the same, that climbing it would be the only thing to pass the time. How wrong was I. Uluru really impressed me, there was so much to see and do, that I never even felt the need to climb it.
Unlike the Grand Canyon, where nearly every view point looks the same, walking around the base of Uluru is full of so many surprises! There are even lakes that are fed by waterfalls (although the waterfalls only ‘appear’ after rainfall). Also, because it’s on sacred land, there are lots of stories about various marks and formations on the rock. This part really interested me and I enjoyed being able to see cave paintings on the walls (I’m slightly obsessed with ‘dot painting’!). At some points around the rock, you are asked not to take photos out of respect but there are more than enough places that it is allowed.
Sunset and sunrise viewings are well worth it. The Rock gradually goes through so many different shades of colour, you can’t help but just stare at it. Tour companies even arrange barbecue buffets with champange around the sunset viewing area.
Aside from the main park area, Kata Tjuta is well worth a visit! There is a hike through the gorges that makes you feel MINIATURE!
After New York City, Ayers Rock is the most expensive place in the world for a backpacker. The dorm rooms aren’t cheap. I stayed at the Outback Pioneer in a 4 person dorm. I’m not a dorm person but there’s not exactly much partying around so everyone we shared with were pleasant enough. Yes it’s expensive but staying on the Resort, you have access to swimming pools and free activities, such as; cultural dancing and boomerang lessons! There are plenty of other paid activities available including scenic flights and camel rides.