...or as it is now known by it's Aboriginal name, Uluru.
As I've mentioned before we had absolutely no plans to ever visit Uluru until we read Bill Bryson's book Down Under and then did a full 180 and decided it would be silly of us not to go. The other convenient fact about going to Uluru is that we would also get to see the red center of Oz and the proper "Outback", something that few Australians ever actually get around to doing. Much like very few New Yorkers ever go up the Empire State Building (myself included), something about being able to do it whenever you want keeps you from every doing it.
Anyway, one other small part of why we decided to go ahead and make a trip to Uluru is that both Virgin Blue (Australian version of Virgin America) and Qantas now have flights going to Uluru daily, which means you don't have to fly to Alice Springs and drive 6 hours to get to Uluru anymore...which we ended up doing anyway, but that was by choice not by necessity.
So, off to Uluru we went, a quick 3 hour flight from Sydney and a one and a half (yes HALF) hour time difference behind and we were in Uluru just an hour and a half after we took off. Which left us the WHOLE day in 90 some odd degree heat with nothing for miles and miles around but Uluru and it's resort.
Oh the resort.
Now I've mentioned before that they use the term resort here very loosely, a resort is not a massage laden pamper fest, it means motel.
Unfortunately everything in Uluru is owned by one company, Voyages, there is literally nothing for hundreds of miles around Uluru except 5 hotels and a campsite all owned by this one company. It's shameful really. So, you're forced to stay in a Voyages owned property no matter what you do, otherwise you have to drive to Alice Springs, which as I said is 6 hours away through the middle of nothing. Luckily all of the hotels are in different price points, so you're not forced to pay a certain amount, but these prices are SHAMEFUL! The most expensive is somewhere in the $400-$500 range and the least expensive is in the $250-$300!!! Then you can move on down the line to hostels and dormitories where you share rooms and showers, a bit more reasonable at $180 for a 4 bed room and then at the bottom of the price totem we have...CAMPING! So, you bet your ass we went camping.
It wasn't quite the camping you're thinking of, though we tried, we were booked for one night in what they have deemed a Cabin, which is a very tiny 2 bedrooms with a sink and a fridge, no bathroom. We were also booked for one night in a "Village Tent" which sounded completely awesome and we were uber excited for, but then when we got there they told us the Tents were having door problems and thus we ended up in a cabin with no bathroom for 2 nights. BUT, it was only $150/night, WHICH IS A MUCH MORE REASONABLE PRICE, even if we did have to go on a short walk to use the loo. Honestly I don't mind paying a bit for a fancy hotel room, but come on, THESE ARE NOT FANCY! They're crap to be honest and the most expensive one probably wasn't even worth as much as the cheapest one, complete ripoff.
It was entirely too hot to venture out to the rock in the heat of the day, so we took a swim and wandered around the rest of the resort until the temps finally dropped a bit and then we headed off to Uluru to do a bit of wandering as well as catch our first sunset. If you don't know about Uluru it's the sunset and sunrise that are supposed to be breathtaking and what it's well know for. The rock supposedly turns a magnificent shade of red and glows. Not to put a downer on the whole experience but after seeing so many pics of it glowing this magnificent shade of red I was slightly disappointed to see it in person...though it does turn out quite magnificent in the pictures I was not blown away by it.
Hours before sunset...it's just a big rock. Though it is rather incredible that it's out in the middle of nowhere like it is.
And that's about as much as it glowed...
Anti-climatic isn't it? Yeah, i thought it would be...redder I guess. Anyway, it was still beautiful, good times. Next up we go on a road trip across the red center!