Top 10 things to do around Uluru
Uluru is the spiritual heart of Australia. The nearby gems of Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon make up this region’s world-renowned nature and culture trifecta. Here are 10 ways to experience this special place.
1. Take a walk around Uluru
Follow the Aboriginal ancestors’ footsteps on one of six established walks around Uluru (most are wheelchair accessible). On the free Mala Walk along Uluru’s base (2km return), rangers tell the story of the Mala (rufous hare-wallaby) people. You’ll see all of Uluru’s natural and cultural beauty on the full base walk, a 10.6km loop of the monolith.
2. Explore the Field of Light art installation
In the pre-dawn light or as darkness blankets Uluru at sunset, witness the spectacle of colour lighting up the desert at the Field of Light art installation. The global phenomenon by British artist Bruce Munro sees some 50 000 solar-powered spheres light an area the size of seven football fields. In local Pitjantjatjara language, it’s called Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku or ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’.
3. Walk the domes of Kata Tjuta
Grab your walking boots to experience Kata Tjuta, 36 steep domes 20 minutes drive west of Uluru. Get the full panorama on the 600m walk to the dune viewing area, take the 2.6km return Walpa Gorge Walk past rare plants to a spearwood grove or do the Valley of the Winds walk, the full 7.4km circuit into the heart of Kata Tjuta (which is actually 200 metres higher than Uluru!).
4. Indulge in the Sounds of Silence
The ultimate starry dining experience is the three-course Sounds of Silence dinner at Uluru. Sip sparkling wine and taste canapes from atop a red desert dune as the setting sun changes Uluru's colours. Then feast on bush tucker-inspired delicacies paired with fine Australian wine. After dinner, an astronomer brings to life the planets and galaxies of the Australian night sky.
5. Hike Kings Canyon
Rise early to tackle the 3.5-hour rim walk of Kings Canyon, a 150m-tall sandstone bluff in the Watarrka National Park, a three-hour drive from Uluru. The challenging 500-step climb rewards you with views from the summit over lush forests and waterholes before you descend into the green ‘Garden of Eden’ in the belly of the canyon. Or take the shady, easier creek walk through the canyon floor.
6. Dine 'Under a Desert Moon'
Splurge on ‘Under a Desert Moon’ at Kings Canyon Resort (April–October), a five-course dinner under the stars lit only by the moon and the campfire’s flickering glow. The menu is built on fresh Australian produce, like free-range emu koftas and wild NT barramundi. Intimacy is guaranteed with numbers capped at eight couples.
7. Connect with local Maruku artists
Join a dot-painting or wood-carving workshop with local artists at Maruku Arts, a collective of some 900 Anangu artists from 20 remote desert communities around Uluru. Sit with the artists and learn about the ways of the desert, the symbols used in their art and local bush medicine. You might even pick up a few Pitjantjatjara words.
8. Ride, fly, segway or cycle
Walking isn’t the only way to explore Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Join a sunrise or sunset camel tour or see the icons from above in a helicopter – or for the more adventurous – take a tandem skydive! Jump on the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle or a three-wheel trike for a quick 30-minute spin or the ultimate sunset tour. Glide your way around Uluru on a Segway or hire a bike and cycle around the monolith at your own pace.
9. Choose a piece from Wintjiri Arts and Museum
Visit Wintjiri Arts and Museum, an Indigenous art gallery at Ayers Rock Resort that exhibits works of its artists in residence from the Pitjantjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra lands. Read the local history displays, watch artists work and choose something special to take home from art to bush medicine, soaps and cosmetics.
10. Join a paper-making tour in Curtin Springs
Hand make your own paper from native grasses at Curtin Springs, a working outback cattle station an hour's drive from Uluru. Join a one-hour tour or a two-day workshop and learn about the different grasses - spinifex, oat grass, woollybutt, kangaroo and kerosene and how they're turned into paper. In the longer workshop, you’ll cut, pulp and press the grass to create your own distinctive souvenir to take home.
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