A visit to rock your world
EVERY day, thousands of Australians, who have never set foot in our country's great, red heart, fly high over the great monolith of Uluru, bound for holiday destinations in Asia or Europe.
And that's great, but every Australian, I believe, needs to experience the soul-enriching magic of Uluru at least once.
To savour the spiritual power of this Dreamtime wonderland is to feel the raw, unbridled power of the vast Australian continent.
My 21-year-old daughter felt the calling to visit Uluru. Instead of a party to celebrate her "coming of age", she asked that I take her to the rock so she could experience something truly powerful that would last the ages.
Our visit was everything she wished for and I suspect the experience was far more potently memorable than a backyard party.
Your gob will drop like ours did when you first come face to face with the massive, 348m-high rock plonked improbably in the middle of the Outback.
But you never get tired of this colour-changing icon. It's a powerfully magnetic vista that will live with you forever.
If you are short of time, a two-night stay at one of Uluru's resorts is enough time to capture the essential experiences available, one of them being a close-up view of Uluru at sunset, beverage in hand.
Another is Uluru's now-famous Field of Light display - a spectacular solar-powered exhibition comprising 50,000 bud-like stems that hauntingly glow as night falls.
A camel ride over the dunes at sunrise is another must-do, offering memorable views of the great rock greeting the sun.
Instead of climbing the rock, circle the base on foot or by bike - a wonderful 10.6km circuit that reveals the secret canyons, caves, waterholes and multi-coloured textures of this amazing rock in the middle of nowhere.
And don't leave Uluru without exploring the breathtakingly weathered gorges of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), west of the rock, learning about the fascinating creation stories of the Anangu people who own this land.
Ayers Rock Resort offers various styles of accommodation but for true indulgence you will always remember, Longitude 131 is a luxury wilderness lodge with 16 deluxe safari tents, all airconditioned and boasting peerless views of the rock.
A recent $8million facelift has added to the five-star camp's new bar, lounge, pool and outdoor dining areas.
A highlight for us was the new, elevated Dune Pavilion plunge pool and sun deck, accompanied by a free mini-bar, overlooking the entire property, Uluru, Kata Tjuta and a great swathe of desert.
The sweeping panorama and overwhelming stillness from such a luxe hideaway was spine-tingling. In the middle of nowhere but at the centre of everything.
- All-inclusive rates at Longitude 131 at Uluru are available from $1500 per person per night, twin-share, with a minimum two-night stay.
- Stay between April and September for maximum temperatures below 30 degrees. Temperatures in summer nudge 40 degrees and tours leave early before sunrise to escape the heat.
- Alice Springs is a 4.5-hour drive away on sealed roads.
- Virgin Australia offers direct flights from Sydney to Uluru, daily, with connections from other cities.
DETAILS: More information at longitude131.com.au