The rock is red, the ground is red, the kangaroos are red, the bugs are red, you are red.
Going to see Ayers Rock is going to see Australia. The real Australia. The outback of the outback (once you block out the touristy-ness, haha).
So first off, before anything else really, begin calling the landmark Uluru. I know I said Ayers Rock a minute ago but that was simply because it is more widely known outside of Australia. In 2002 they renamed “Ayers Rock / Uluru” to “Uluru / Ayers Rock” out of respect for the Anangu. The Anangu are the Aborigine owners of Uluru. Aside from all that, everyone there, including non-Aborigines say Uluru and you don’t want to look like a drongo and not know what they’re talking about!
I’m a cheapskate so I didn’t pay the extra to choose my seat on my flight from Sydney to Uluru. Because the flight was only half full, I got away with this. Simply because I wanted my space to loudly munch on some expensive airport snacks, after take off I snook off to an empty row at the back of the plane (the left side). I was not prepared for such a view! There were (mostly dried up) salt lakes everywhere. I felt like I was landing on Mars. I started noticing reddish rocks and I thought “hmm, I doubt we’ll actually fly over Uluru,” and then…!!!! WOW! That is when you really realise the sheer size of this rock!
You can’t get too lost here. They probably make it super easy so no one wanders off and gets eaten by a dingo. Joke!
Once you’re outside the airport there’s a line of AAT Kings coaches with the names of each hotel placed in the window. The accommodation ranges from a campsite to pretty nice hotels. Although I only saw the more expensive hotels from the outside!
No surprise, I opted for the hostel – the Outback Pioneer Lodge. When I booked online, there was a choice between a 16 bed dorm and a 4 bed dorm. Here’s a little tip: there is no 16 bed dorm, but it’s cheaper. I had a pleasant shock when I unlocked the door to find only 2 bunk beds! And yes, I snooped around and all of “cabins” which were all the same tiny size and there’s no way any more beds would have fitted!
There’s a free shuttle bus every 15 minutes around the resort. The stops are outside all of the hotels, the museum and the “town square”. If you want to explore more there’s the Imangu Lookout track which I discovered on my last day! I thought it was really cool! I love to walk so I felt a bit weird getting the bus constantly, and then I saw a faint pathway across the road. I followed it anyway and came to a fork. One way was straight across to the town square and to the left was a beautiful lookout point! Anyway, I walked that way back too because it was so nice. The track itself was really red and believe it or not, I didn’t get to see as much red as I thought I would (you’ll see why on my next post – Base Walk around Uluru).
The town square has all you’ll need really so you don’t need to pack much. A supermarket, tourist information, souvenir shops, post office, restaurants. The usual, I mean, people live there, so yeah.
One last thing I’d like to tell you about the resort. And I’m being completely honest here, okay? Apart from cockroaches, I am not afraid of creepy crawlies. Bugs, flies, insects, whatever, they don’t really phase me. I was very uncomfortable when I first arrived. In the check-in queue at the hostel, there was the biggest insect thing on the floor and I was like “wow, he’s impressive, why hasn’t anybody noticed him?”. I was given the key to my cabin and I went a long ass way and changed paths about 5 times because there were giant flying things that were just hogging the entire walkway. The bathroom was terrifying, I didn’t feel safe sitting down.
But listen, by the next day, as freaked out as I had been, I was walking around the hostel grounds barefoot. I went to the bathrooms barefoot, hopping over giant insects as I went. I even had my shower ambushed by a praying mantis (or something) and didn’t scream when he launched himself at my chest. So my advice is: if you are genuinely scared of bugs, then you should pay that bit extra for one of the hotels. It’s not worth losing sleep over, especially if you’re trekking around Uluru or Kata Tjuta the next day.
Watch this space for my next post – Sunrise and Basewalk around Uluru!