This was my final trip of 2015, a special friend of mine – Nobu, came to visit me in Australia from Jakarta. Wait, I mean, came to Australia and visited me. He’s a Japanese but has been working in Jakarta since the last 2 years. He’s an amazing guy who has been to 87 countries. His 86th and 87th is Australia and New Zealand. It’s such an honor for me to be able to travel together with him to one of most iconic natural landmark of Australia, Uluru or Ayers Rock in Northern Territory. 🙂
As soon as landed in Ayers Rock Airport, we headed to a dorm that we already booked online. It’s Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge in Yulara. Yulara is a small town that built in 1976 to support Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park tourism. Transportation from the airport has been managed for those who stay in any accommodation in Yulara. There will be buses queuing in airport lobby, each has name of destination, so just find yours and get into the bus. Also, if you want to take a detour around Yulara, like visit the museum or go to shopping center, you can just take a free bus that will regularly passing by every places in Yulara, including your accommodation. Yep, it’s all free! 😉
We booked Uluru & Kata Tjuta both sunrise and sunset tour with Uluru Express. It’s not cheap, but it’s the cheapest amongst others. And I’m satisfied I chose them. Their car is a shuttle bus, not a big bus, so not too many people in the same tour . Besides, they also have different schedule with other big tour provider, so the chance for us to enjoy every spot become more comfortable.
Uluru & Kata Tjuta Sunset Tour ($95 by Uluru Express)
We were collected by Uluru Express in our lodge at 4 pm. First, the driver sent us to Kata Tjuta -or The Olgas look out. It was amazing to see group of rocky domes from the right point – quiet far, but not too far – so that they can be enjoyed under 1 frame.
What I hate from that time was, the flies! Ugh! They were very aggressive! I don’t get why Australian summer flies attacking human’s face, super annoying. Never hate flies like that in my life. So, if you travel to here on summer time, bring face protector, it will save your life.
After 30 mins spending time on that lookout, we were taken to the closer look of Kata Tjuta. Here we did the famous 2,6 km Walpa Gorge walk. The walk took about 45 mins return with an easy trek. It was right in the middle of summer time, but Thank God, the sun was not that bad. Besides, the further we walk through the gorge, the more shady it gets. Walking in between the Olgas made me feel super small as human and somehow also bring peaceful feeling at the same time.
There is another walk that can be done in Kata Tjuta, named Valley of the Wind. It would take about 3 hours to do the walk with a medium trek, but they say it worth of what you get. We aimed for this walk at first, but I forgot what was happened so that we cancel it.
Sunset time was nearly less than one hour when we were on the way to Uluru. Uluru lies about 5o km from Kata Tjuta, so it took about half an hour to get there. A very dark clouds covering the sky became our view along the way, I even could see a dark shadow of the rain from afar, I was hoping it’s not in Uluru area. Apparently it is. I was really upset that we wouldn’t be able to see the sunset because of that annoying moody weather. How can 3o something degrees of temperature at noon suddenly changed to rain?? it should be whole day sunny based on the forecast, plus..it’s summer! Hello!!!
The shuttle kept going around Uluru which circumference is about 9 km. We could see small waterfall coming in every side of Uluru’s wall. When we drove to the other side of our arrival way, the total gloomy scene we had suddenly changed. A perfect shape of rainbow decorating a wet gloomy desert just next to Uluru. It was truly magnificent view and all of us in the van were sooo surprised and amazed. The chance to see the sunset might be taken away, but this pretty rainbow surely paid it off, more than even!
The driver pulled over and gave us chance to get off and capture it. It was super windy outside the car but I didn’t care. I was the only one who walk the furthest from the bus though. Hahaha! Way too excited, as always.
We were still dropped in the sunset lookout, even though there would be no sunset, and it was still raining cats and dogs when we got there. The driver left it on us, whether we wanted to get off or stay in the car. Of course we preferred to get off! Me and Nobu walked through the lookout path. Didn’t really care about the rain. All of the sudden, right 5 minutes before sunset time, Uluru which already looked dark before, turned so bright – it colored more orange-ish! Guess what? When I saw the sky, the sun had break the clouds and gave the shine to Uluru thoroughly! Whoaaaa!!! I couldn’t believe what I see. Perfect sunset with a touch of rainbow. I was so blessed!!! Now, I’m so glad that it was rain. hihihi.. A proof that life can be such a mysterious one. 🙂
Uluru Sunrise Tour ($70 by Uluru Express)
We had to get up very early in the morning and got picked up at 4.30 am. The sunrise lookout for Uluru is different with the sunset spot that we went yesterday. When we arrived to the spot, hot drinks and biscuits had been prepared by Uluru Express. Ahh..it was small thing but very-very nice. Who’s not up for a warm tea during the dawn viewing? I bet no one.
Oh another blessing thing was, the perfect round shape of full moon that we saw just before the dusk. Such an adorable one! We had to walk about 10 minutes to the lookout, it was already packed with people. So we tried to walk a bit further from the lookout.
The sunrise moment went smooth, we could see the full moon falling down rapidly and the sun coming up just seconds after. Both can be seen together with color changing of Uluru during the process. So quick that you have to be sure to keep your eyes open, otherwise you’ll miss the moment. Such a lovely process of nature. Definitely a must see.
After witnessing the sunrise, we went to feel the intimate of Uluru. There are 3 walks available to do around Uluru. Uluru Base Walk – the longest – about 10 km walk, Liru Walk – the second longest – about 4 km walk, and Mala walk, the shortest one. I took Mala Walk, no – not because we were lazy, we just didn’t want to risk our flight at 11 pm. *such an excuse :p*
But to be honest, I like Mala walk better than the Walpa Gorge walk that I did in Kata Tjuta yesterday. Here we could see many Aboriginal sacred sites very up-closed and many information also explained through the boards along the walk, which not left us clueless – since we didn’t hire a guide. And that peaceful kinda feeling that I got in Kata Tjuta, was way more strong in here. Actually we supposed to be able to hike to the top of Megalith, but it says the hiking trail was already closed permanently.
That’s all my trip in Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park. I should say 3 days 2 night is very enough to explore this place, but if you want to-the-point kind of exploration, then 2 days 1 night -like we did- is totally fine. What makes this place high is the cultural value it has and the uniqueness of the nature. Something different Australia offers that you have to see it yourself.