Australia

Published on December 21st, 2012

11

Uluru: Is It Worth It?

"The Rock" - Uluru / Ayers Rock, Australia

Worth it? Oh my YESSS!

They call it a “rock”.   But not just any rock…

THE Rock.

 
I suppose. But after witnessing first-hand the awe and mystery of standing right there, touching it…

I must say, that honey is deserving of far more than some catchy “rock” moniker. Even the full-blown “Ayers Rock” would seem inadequate (not to mention a bit arrogantly Anglo-Saxonized). Nope, for me – the “rock” that I beheld – indeed, stood stupefied and awestruck under the blazing sun in the middle of Australia’s vast outback at the base of – can hereafter be dubbed none other than…

Uluru” – its (far more dignified) original traditional name.

But let’s back up here a tad, shall we? Back to those bleary-eyed days in Vietnam, when I was Googling my way though the www trying to piece together an itinerary for my planned three weeks in Oz.

Yes, yes, of COURSE my first thoughts turned to visiting “The Rock” – I mean, it’s pretty much synonymous with Australia, and arguably among the premier icons of the entire WORLD, no?

So naturally I figured I’d wend my way there whilst skipping ’round Oz, until…

Until I found out how breathtakingly EXPENSIVE such a simple endeavor would be. True, that hummer of a rock is out in the middle of freekin’ NOWHERE, so of course it’s gonna take some to get there and back. Indeed, it swiftly became clear that there was no way one could cut corners by opting for a train or a bus.  That would take nearly a full WEEK just for the to and fro – not to mention the round trip train fare hovered at nearly *3 GRAND* for a sleeper on the 28 hr. ONE WAY ride.  And if you favored SITTING UP for 4 full days round trip, why you could squeeze by with a mere $700.

Nope.  One clearly does NOT head overland to Uluru.

“So o.k. we fly” says I.   Fly to Alice Springs ($500 rt., the nearest town and still 480 km from Uluru) and take one of the (relatively) cheapo quickie backpacker bus tours from there (a grueling 18 hrs. round trip (another $200).  But hey – a mere $700 just so you can say you’ve “done” Uluru – hmmm.

“Ugh!” says I. “Do I really want to drop that kind of dough just to see some stupid ROCK?”

I mean, let’s be honest here. I’m actually not all that keen on gawking at sedimentary monoliths to begin with (sure, those Pyramids at Giza are truly amazing, but the rest of the gazillion temples scattered about the Egyptian desert?  Uh… not so much).

Indeed, if truth be told, there was the distinct possibility that I would speed through the parched g-forsaken outback on some cramped bus, only to arrive at Ayers, hop off the bus, snap a pic, and… hop back on – popping my ear buds back in and tuning to my favorite “Jammu Africa” album.

TasmanianDevil350x266

The island home of the Tasmanian Devil? or Uluru?
Which would you choose?

Thus… amid my early itinerary planning for Australia, I discarded the notion of Ayers completely, and thought I’d instead spend my precious rubles on a little side trip to the island of Tasmania off the southern coast of Oz. Indeed, for awhile there Tasmania loomed mighty promising (certainly beautiful, with lots a keen landscapes and all).  But the round trip airfare there was $200 and…

Suddenly – out of the middle of NOWHERE – it hit me like a ton-of-bricks:

“Good grief, Dy” says I, “How on EARTH can you fly to the tippy-tip bottom of “Down Under”, spend three full weeks skipping around Oz, and… NOT bother to take a peek at one of THE most iconic natural wonders of PLANET EARTH???”

I mean, it’s not as if I’m likely to be in that corner of the globe again anytime soon (or in this lifetime, for that matter).  So if I’m ever gonna set eyes on this fabled rock, it’s gotta be right here, right now, yes?

And thus… long-story-short, I bit-bullet, regrouped, and returned to cobbling together an itinerary that included Uluru.  A nice little round trip air (directly to Ayers, not Alice Springs, well duh!) plus 2 nts. lodging (2+days) to gaze at the “Rock” for… a mere $800.

And yes ladies and gentlemen, it proved to be WORTH.EVERY.BLESSED.PENNY

Honestly, it’s impossible to describe the awesomeness of this monolith.  Come to think of it – let’s just say that the fabled heap of sandstone in the middle of the outback verily INVENTED awesomeness.

Arial view of Uluru / Ayers Rock, Australia

meh…

Then again… even as we first flew over it, coming into the airstrip, it looked, well… just kinda “meh” (and I suddenly had visions of dollars flushing swiftly down the jaws of a porcelain throne).

Ah but upon arrival, I checked into my dorm ($35 with shared bath – the cheapest digs within 250 miles) at Outback Pioneer Lodge (actually quite a nice place for the money, with swimming pool and restaurant serving such exotics as grilled kangaroo, crocodile, emu and camel) and swiftly booked a sunset trip to see for myself just what all this Uluru fuss was about.

Uluru itself was of course a bit of a distance (about a 15 min. drive through sun-parched, barren outback) away from the “village” (i.e. the handful of low-profile hotels plus a petrol station and a small shopping center).  Unless you drive in overland (not recommended due to the sheer – did I not mention? – freekin’ NOWHERE of it), you must necessarily book a tour (lots of different options for sunrise vs. sunset complete with champagne, etc.) to actually get to Uluru and/or its lesser cousin “Kata Tjuta”.  Or… you could go the cheaper route (note that I did NOT say “cheap” as there is clearly no such thing ANYWHERE in Oz – all being relative, some things less expensive than others, but none priced even at U.S./European standards).  Ah but I digress.

Heading to Uluru / Ayers Rock for sunsetOr… you could go the LESS EXPENSIVE route of buying a shuttle pass for around $150 that gives you unlimited bus rides to and fro the rock, plus an extra $40 should you care to bus there for sunrise or sunset (and I mean, who wouldn’t?)  This, in ADDITION to the $25 park entry pass (good for 3 days, the best buy in Oz, and better still – a goodly portion of the proceeds go directly to the indigenous communities around Uluru).  In short, money, money, money.  But I was at Uluru after all, so of course I coughed up the $215 for the Full Meal Deal.

ANYWAY, (still wondering if the pebble would be worth it), with pass in hand and transport sorted out, I was off to see the fabled “rock” (bearing in mind, that we’re now up to nearly a GRAND for the 2 night excursion, but…)  This was Uluru after all, so it HAD to be amazing, right?

 

Sunset at Ayers Rock, AustraliaAnd it was.

Oh my!  Was it ever.

Utterly BREATHTAKING.

When you got up close…

Purely MAGICAL!  I dare say verily a SPIRITUAL experience.

Yep…

Right up there with the Great Wall and the Pyramids at Giza.

Better even.  ‘Cuz THIS wonder of the world is NATURAL – not hacked together by mere humans like that fence in China and those pointy things in Egypt.

Truly a WONDER.  Not to be missed if you ever happen to be in the neighborhood.

The TravelnLass and a baby camel

What’s with the TravelnLass and these incessant CAMELS?

Needless to say, I spent the next 40-odd hours (but for when the monolith was shrouded in darkness and thus I was able to snatch a bit of sleep) snapping pics of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta, stumbling around in the heat of the outback, with my jaw hanging down to my KNEES, openly gawking at the sheer MAJESTY of… yes, a (very special) ROCK.

Well o.k., I also managed to get in my (now seemingly requisite) tet-a-tet with a CAMEL, plus grabbed a couple of geocaches (natch), but trust that Uluru was in the corner of my eye pretty much every moment.

And now, I present to you, just a few of the many faces of the one, the ONLY… ULURU:

UluruGallery1-678x509

Uh, just how many pics can one snap of a single boulder?

UluruBacksideGallery2-678x509

Ah dear Uluru – let me count the ways…

Btw, the photo above is of the “backside” of Uluru – taken as the shuttle bus circled around the entire monolith. You can also walk around the base (about 11 km, and not to be attempted during the heat of the day). I (wisely) didn’t try to walk it, mainly because the word on the street was that walking the full circumferance was A. pretty tough due to the heat, even if you started out at dawn, and B. (more importantly) apparently there are few places on the backside where you’re allowed to take photos as much of that side is revered by the Anangu (the traditional people of the area) as sacred.

Likewise, if you’re wondering… nope, I did NOT attempt to climb Uluru. The reason is simple: The Indigenous People frown upon tourists traipsing up and down the natural icon they’ve called sacred for a few hundred million years, and… that’s good enough for me.

And while we’re on the subject, I learned that the traditional people of Australia aren’t all that keen on being dubbed “Aboriginal” or “Aborigines”.  It is the term the white people coined for them when they first arrived in Australia in 1788, and it is not what they call themselves.  Rather, the traditional people of Australia prefer to be called “The Indigenous People”, and I mean… that’s exactly what they are, so who can argue with that?

UluruGallery3-678x509

Pictures just don’t do it justice…

UluruGallery4-678x509

…but these are the best I could do.

UluruCloseUpGallery5-678x509

ToesInSituGallery6-678x509

Requisite TL’s “TravelnToes in Situ” beneath the majesty of Uluru

Uluru- Is it worth it?

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About the Author

Off-the-beaten-path travel is my passion,and I’ve always lived life “like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store” – eager to sample as many flavors as I can. Indeed, my life motto has long been: This ain’t a dress rehearsal, folks!



11 Responses to Uluru: Is It Worth It?

  1. Thanks! Glad to hear it is worth it! I have it on my 7 week itinerary and am getting ready to book it.

    • Dyanne says:

      Yay! So happy I could play a small part in c̶o̶r̶r̶u̶p̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ errr… nudging you to go for it, Wendy. Though normally I’m quite the frugal traveler, nonetheless there are times when a splurge is most definitely worth it.

      Only tip I might recommend – if you have advance time, I’d watch those domestic airfares closely. I could have saved nearly *$200* had I not hesitated for 24 hrs. to buy my ticket. Also, check the prices from various points along the eastern coast. Depending on your itinerary, you might find a cheaper fare from Brisbane or Cairns than from Sydney.

      I can also highly recommend the Outback Pioneer Lodge as a great place to stay – and for a night or 2, you really can’t beat the dorm bed prices which still give you access to the pool, etc.

      Oh and… do.not.miss. a sunset tour.

      Do report back – I’d love to hear how your trip goes.

  2. Rosemary Gallagher says:

    Hi Dyanne,
    I love your blog. I am also a 60something single woman looking forward to traveling as much of the world as my years will allow. I retire in June after 28 years of teaching elementary ed and am planning a 6 month traveling adventure beginning in Australia. I will follow in your footsteps and make Uluru a priority while there. Can’t believe it’s so pricey. From there my plans are to go to Nepal. I love your post about sleeping with the monks. My plan is to end my 2015 journey meeting family in Ireland in June. I know that I can’t leave my grandkiddies for more than 6 months.
    Feel free to offer any advice you feel would help me with my travels next year.
    Rosemary

    • Dyanne says:

      You GO, girlfriend!

      Thanks for dropping a note, Rosemary. Glad you’re enjoying TL and SUPER GLAD you’re planning your own “After all, this ain’t a dress rehearsal” adventure. Clearly you’ll get nothing but encouragement from me – do give a holler if you have any questions.

      But meanwhile, yes – unless your surname is “Trump”, Uluru can be breathtakingly expensive. But do plan your visit well in advance and watch the domestic Oz airfare – I missed a sale by a mere 8 hours (ouch!) and could have save nearly $200 on my air. That and…

      I really liked the Outback Pioneer Hotel (link above) – among the cheapest I believe, I stayed in a (very nice a/c) dorm for ~ $40/nt. whereas… a budget room withOUT bath will run you close to $200 per night! (and even we lowly dormers had full use of the swimming pool etc.) 😉

      And finally – do plan your visit to Uluru in the cooler months (remember Oz is “downunder” so the seasons are reverse). I went in November and the heat was bearable but – better to visit Oz in the shoulder season (Sept/Oct) when it’s a bit cooler (and perhaps a bit cheaper?)

      In any case, thanks for dropping by, and do follow along and comment here at TL as you plan your own adventure, so I’ll know how things are shaping up for you.

      • Rosemary Gallagher says:

        Thanks for your input Dyanne. I plan on being in Australia in Jan, 2015 to see the Australian Open. I am fully aware that the temps will be extreme, if anything like this year. I’m sitting in Pennsylvania right now getting dumped on with 9-12 inches of snow!! I will be staying in Melbourne initially and then spend some time traveling around. You seem to be a fan of Couchsurfing- I was going to try that while in Australia.

        • Dyanne says:

          Oh my yes, couchsurfing. Highly recommended. I met the most wonderful people couchsurfing up the coast of Oz. If you’re not a member already, do put up a robust profile now, with lots of pics and full info on your interests, etc. You might even try hosting a bit there in Pennsylvania to get some CS references.

  3. Gail Snyder says:

    Absolutely fabulous read, and gorgeous pics. Wow.

    • TravelnLass says:

      Thanks Sis – I must say, I can look back on this past year and count myself ever so lucky to have personally glimpsed the likes of Uluru, the Gobi, Angkor Wat, etc. in 2012. Just so very blessed to be able to realize such travel dreams at such a young age. 😉

  4. Alas, poor wallet
    Worth every blessed penny
    Uluru Whoo Hoo!

    • TravelnLass says:

      Ah yes – a most nicely done haiku FLN! 😉

    • Thank you but I can claim only partial credit, seeing as I quoted you, Homer Simpson and abused The Bard.

      Many write about the wonders of travel. You write with the wonder of travel. I hope that makes sense. This is my favorite travel blog. Thank you for sharing your adventures.

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