Walking around Uluru has always been one of our favourite ways to explore the rock and with news this week that the climb will officially close in the summer of 2019; we’ve turned our attention to the top ten unforgettable experiences and must-dos that should be added to any Red Centre itinerary.
1. Visit the Uluru Cultural Centre and immerse yourself in the Anangu way
The Anangu people are Uluru’s traditional custodians and have lived in the area for at least 22,000 years so any visit to the Uluru Cultural Centre is a glimpse into ancient times. Here, Anangu art tells cultural stories passed down the generations, craft demonstrations hark back to days gone by and bush tucker sessions and guided walks teach how to live off the land.
2. Dive or drive into adrenalin-pumping experiences
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, leap out of your comfort zone on an adrenaline-pumping skydive for a sky-high view of Australia’s most famous natural landmark. Soak up the sights and let your camera do all the hard work snapping panoramas from the comfort of a helicopter flight, or roar off into the sunset aboard a Harley Davidson motorcycle and take in those spectacular Uluru views with a side of leather and chrome.
3. Every day is Hump Day in the Red Centre
Join the six-feet-high club and climb aboard your ship of the desert for a camel-eye-view of the outback. Uluru Camel Tours offer a loping, leisurely walk with outstanding morning views for those with an adventurous spirit. Explore the large red sand dunes in the cool, clear morning and watch the sun rise over Uluru as your guide points out desert flora and fauna and prepares a bush brekkie of billy tea and freshly-baked beer bread.
4. One Direction rules: Walk, cycle or Segway around Uluru
For reasons unknown, nearly everyone walks around Uluru anti-clockwise and with a base that’s a staggering 10.6km in diameter; our one-directional ramblers can take full advantage of the fantastic interpretive displays on offer.
For those not so athletically inclined, riding a Segway or a bicycle is a thoroughly modern way to take in the many springs, waterholes, rock art caves and ancient paintings on the circuit.
5. Dine on menus that infuse contemporary and ancient traditions
Sup on gourmet cuisine under a canopy of stars, with the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park as your backdrop, at the iconic Sounds of Silence dinner, or tempt your taste buds with one of several outback bush tucker experiences run by traditional owners. The Karrke Aboriginal Cultural Experience Tour in Kings Canyon National Park serves local culinary delights with a side of incredible outback characters.
6. Visit the many heads that make up the Olgas
The sheer size of the 36 soaring domed rocks – or many heads – that make up the Olgas is seriously captivating. The tallest rock, Mt Olga, sits 1066m above sea level – a whopping 200m higher than Uluru. A must-do in the World Heritage-listed Kata Tjuta National Park, expect spectacular scenery peppered with splashes of outback red and small off-road trails that are ripe for exploring. And, for a taste of the region’s sacred history, join a cultural tour and learn the Dreamtime stories.
7. Take a track less taken on the Valley of the Winds walk
Those who walk the 7.4km Valley of the Winds full-circuit, 30 kilometres from Uluru, are rewarded with some of the best views of the formations of Kata Tjuta. This trail is not for the faint-hearted and is best walked in early morning or late afternoon when grassy landscapes and ancient mulga trees pop against a bluer-than-blue sky, and shy wallabies hop along rocky outcrops. Remember to bring plenty of water, sturdy shoes and a sense of adventure as temperatures can rise in the valley.
8. Pack a sunset picnic, Red Centre-style and stargaze the night away
Who needs a TV in the Red Centre when Mother Nature puts on a nightly show? In the evening, after a little afternoon siesta, the incredible Campari-coloured sunsets illuminate the rock with a touch of drama before fading to charcoal. In these parts, an astronomy tour gives visitors a close-up view of planets that are so close, you could almost touch them and of the Milky Way, which cuts a neon swathe through the dark night sky.
9. Ancient art literally rocks the joint
It’s an all-day trip from Uluru to Cave Hill, but this stunning rock art site – one of the most important in Central Australia – is well worth the time. This sacred site can only be visited on an organised tour, complete with Anangu guide who will explain the role this area and its colourful art plays in one of Australia’s best-known Dreamtime stories.
10. Kings Canyon Rim Walk
There are plenty of contenders, but the Kings Canyon Rim Walk is definitely one of the most breathtaking places in the whole of the NT. When you’re standing up on top of this remote canyon, looking out across the desert, the sheer size of the place will blow your mind. But don’t let the initial steep climb put you off, because once you reach the top you’re rewarded with one of the most spectacular sights in central Australia.