With Sounds of Silence celebrating 25 years, “Field of Light” extended until 2020 and direct flights that take less than three hours, there’s never been a better time to tick Uluru off your bucket list.
Check into the newly refurbished Lost Camel hotel when it reopens on July 1 (it’s taking bookings) and make a beeline to the free, 45-minute bush food experience. It will whet your appetite for lunch at Kulata Academy Cafe, which supports indigenous trainees. Relax by the pool before a night-at-“Field of Light” experience, where Bruce Munro’s 50,000 solar light bulbs awaken in his Avatar-like art installation. Enjoy a bush tucker-inspired dinner before getting some rest – it’s an early start for the Desert Awakenings Tour. Watch the domes of Kata Tjuta turn from silhouettes to boulders from a dune top over bacon-and-egg rolls before a guided base tour of Uluru.
Ditch the city for a luxurious weekend in Uluru, where the $3000-plus-a-night tented pavilions at Longitude 131° have unparalleled views of the rock from bed. If that’s a little above budget, Sails in the Desert offers more affordable premium accommodation. Both have a pool for an afternoon dip, essential before a transfer to Field of Light at dusk. Return to Table 131° for a four-course dinner or experience Tali Wiru, where you’ll sip champagne to the sound of a didgeridoo, before walking to a dune for an unforgettable meal under the Milky Way. Rise early for a bird’s-eye view of Kata Tjuta and Uluru during a 30-minute chopper ride. You’ll be back in time for the breakfast buffet at Ilkari Restaurant. The afternoon is reserved for a relaxing lunch and treatment at Spa Kinara or Red Ochre Spa. Those splashing out at Longitude 131° should opt for a private dune-top dinner on their last night, before stargazing from the balcony.
There are countless ways to explore the desert, from guided walks and camels to Harley Davidson motorbikes and helicopters. Buy a one-to-three day pass for the Uluru Hop On Hop Off shuttle, or spend a day at Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park, where sandstone walls plunge nearly 300 metres to a tropical oasis. Take advantage of free family-friendly activities (double rooms at Desert Gardens Hotel have two, family-friendly double beds), such as a cultural ‘bush yarn’ from an indigenous storyteller or a performance at the Mani-Mani Indigenous Cultural Theatre. For a little extra, explore the secrets of the night sky during a Family Astro Tour. The whole family can spend a night at Sounds of Silence, an Australian Tourism Hall of Famer offering the sunset, a buffet peppered with native ingredients and stargazing.
Notes from the road
Get there: Jetstar offers the cheapest flights, direct one-way from $189, jetstar.com
Stay: All Uluru accommodation, aside from Longitude 131°, is through Voyages, who help with scheduling of activities.
The writer travelled with assistance from Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia and Jetstar.