Some moments from a recent trip to the spiritual heart of Australia - the land of the Ananou people and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
I spent three majestic days here, during which the harsh May light constantly bounced up from the burnt orange ochre, casting heavy shadows over the dunes and finding its way into my eyes - reminding me that I'm not a fan of deserts. But there was something about being here that dug right in and captivated me. Perhaps it was the magnitude of the space and land. Maybe it had something to do with the overwhelming presence of 'the rock' or the dimming of the harsh sun in the evenings that then opened up the vast night sky. Or perhaps, there was something about the silence.
It was a special time to be here. An unusual amount of autumn rain saw plains of lush spinifex grow. Trees were filled with ili (wild figs) and arnguli (bush plums). Warm welcomes came in the form of a 'Palya' and a full dessert moon.
Dawn and dusk were go times here. Dawn drew in the sunrise seekers, to experience the transformation of pre-dawn silence and crisp morning air into first morning light on Uluru's eastern face. And dusk saw the big sky fill up with the most golden sunsets, celebrated with sparkling wine and views of a the distant rocks, Uluru & Kata Tjuta. For the times in between, we stayed at Sails in the Desert - an oasis of comfy rooms, ghost gum lined lawns and a delicious breakfast buffet.
The evenings, unexpectedly, was when the place really lit up.
One of the nights, post sunset bubbles, we were led on a bush tucker journey. We followed a secret path to find a hidden grove of tables set up among the dunes and under the stars between Uluru & The Olgas. We dined here on a bush tucker inspired menu designed and cooked by the effervescent Chef, Mark Olive. Our plates were loaded up with the likes of barramundi, kangaroo, salt bush, quandongs & bush tomatoes. The flavours were sublime.
The night ended with a guided tour of the night sky. It was mostly lit up by the moon, but still, it was incredibly beautiful to sit under and soak up. It became extra special to look out across the glowing terracotta coloured sand to see the soft outline of the rocks in the distance.
Another evening, after watching the full moon rise, we followed paths and patterns through Bruce Munro's field of light. It's the second time this art installation has forged a mass of colourful intertwined glass spheres and webs across the dune valley in front of Uluru. I lost myself to the glow of the lights and the time to reflect here, and then soon realised that I had become physically lost, too. I even missed my bus ride home. But I didn't mind one bit. The monumental scale of the installation and surrounding scape was truly a humbling experience. It had all soaked in.
It turned out that I am a fan of this desert.
The views were vast. The land was captivating. And, the sounds were silent.
Accommodation: Ayres Rock Resort | Sails in the Desert
Voyages Experiences: Desert Awakenings |Field of Light | Bush Tucker Journeys