Flight Centre’s Jayne Gorman joined the winners of the Kiss 100 Big Outback Adventure competition as they explored Australia’s mesmerising Northern Territory. Tasha Jevdet, one of the winners, previously shared her favourite moments of the trip. In this post Jayne tries to put into words her experience of seeing Uluru for the first time.
That first glimpse of Uluru is magical. After driving for hours through the flat, dry land of the Red Centre, finally the unmistakeable shadow of Australia’s famous rock appears on the horizon. One of Australia’s icons, Uluru (or Ayres Rock as it is also known) is breath-taking from a distance and captivating up close.
I was literally struggling to breathe when I first glimpsed Uluru as I had been craning my neck and holding my breath for quite a while. Uluru is not viewable from the plane whilst flying into Alice Springs (as I erroneously thought!) The rock is actually a good 5 hours drive from Alice Springs so it is quite the journey to get there. Lucky for me I was on an Intrepid Travel tour so I was making the journey in the comfort of an air conditioned bus with ample snacks, road trip tunes and a very knowledgeable guide. As we travelled through the Outback, Lewy our Intrepid guide, kept the group entertained with a mixture of tunes (from the brilliant to the bizarre) and shared with us her extensive knowledge of Aboriginal culture (she is studying for a masters on the subject.) We learnt how important Uluru is to the Aboriginal people; their culture and history is closely entwined with the land. Uluru is home to many sacred Aboriginal sites, it houses caves which depict stories relating to Aboriginal history and moral conduct; and knowing this before we even arrived not only heightened the anticipation to see the site but prepared us to show the level of respect it deserved.
“There is it!” I shouted and startled most of the passengers on the bus who were peacefully dozing. Heads popped up as the word spread like wildfire. People were leaning each other to get that first glimpse of something we had travelled so far to see. Lewy was silent on the microphone and I wondered why she hadn’t announced the fact that we were almost there. She let us excitedly chatter for a few more minutes before taking the mic and announcing, “Welcome to Fooluru.”
Mount Connor, or Fooluru, as the deceptive mountain is known locally, looks exactly as a first time visitor to Uluru would imagine Uluru looks! Formed from the same mountain range many years ago it’s a very similar shape and size to Uluru. We weren’t the first to be fooled.
Excitement over, we settled back into our seats for a little longer. Soon enough Lewy came onto the microphone to announce that we had arrived at Yulara, the campsite in Uluru Kata –Tjuta National Park, and from here we would be able to see Uluru. She opened the bus doors and we raced up a track behind the camp to a viewing platform – and there it was.
We ate lunch at camp and whilst I am sure it was delicious I don’t think many of us spent much time digesting it; we were so keen to begin the Uluru base walk. Lewy gave us a lift in the truck closer to the rock as although the distance between camp and Uluru looked small it was a long way to cover by foot in the Australian heat. She dropped us at the base and we split into smaller groups to walk around Uluru and try to take it all in.
I don’t usually spend a lot of time studying rocks but this one is special; both geologically and culturally. The pictures only go part way to demonstrate how special the place is. For the full magical effect, you shall have to see it for yourself!
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