27 September 2023

Enriching Uluru experiences: cultural creativity, awakenings and bush yarns

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By Rama Gaind.

This is the last feature in a series on Uluru, in the Northern Territory … not a far-away destination … but one that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Tracy Holmstrand, Communications & Marketing Manager, Ayers Rock Resort. Photo: Rama Gaind

The Northern Territory is different in every sense. Brimming with transformative experiences that feel like they are worlds away, but in reality, they are right on every Australian’s doorstep.
Inquisitiveness, diverse, atypical and distinctive are relevant to the Top End. It offers wide-open stretches of rich red outback, clear waterholes, ancient Aboriginal culture and charming tropical towns.

Sacred to Indigenous Australians, Uluru or Ayers Rock — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — shines in all its glory as ever-changing colours and countless shades of red radiate their own conspicuous warmth. Peruse the vast landscape before you, breathe in and pay attention to the natural beauty of the Red Centre. Take a moment to really capture the biodiversity and uniqueness of the heart of Australia.

“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.” This is just one Australian Aboriginal proverb that serves as a timeless message for anyone visiting a cultural or natural site.

Celebrating cultural creativity as Freddy professionally guided us through the Gallery of Central Australia. Photo: Rama Gaind

Add to that enriching and unforgettable experiences, the interactions where memories are made through significant connections with the people living there, embracing the Traditional Owners. They are keen to share their Dreamtime stories, their ethos and to experience the authentic Aussie outback.

According to Aboriginal philosophy, the Dreamtime is the period in which life was created. Dreaming is the word used to explain how life came to be; it is the stories and beliefs behind creation. It’s all about the meetings, the special ‘people’ experiences because “those who lose dreaming are lost.” That can never be.

Uluru is the home of the Anangu people, and they are a welcoming, generous people. Aboriginal language, values and traditions are strong here, and the Anangu welcome the opportunity to share them with visitors. Involve yourself in their inspiring world of ingenuity.

In the company of our skillful guide Jack, Desert Awakenings was one tour where we watched a spectacular sunrise over Uluru in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory. Photo: Rama Gaind

With a population of around 2,500, the Anangu are the traditional custodians of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the central desert region. For more than 50,000 years, the Anangu have practised their customs in their homelands — an approximate geographical area of 103,000km2.

Towering over the Australian outback, Uluru is one of Australia’s most recognisable natural landmarks which remains a source of reverence and awe. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory is world-famous for its spectacular sunrises and sunsets. As the sunlight plays with the landscape, the rock formations change colour before your eyes.

Memorable moments

According to Tracy Holmstrand, Communications & Marketing Manager, Ayers Rock Resort, there are countless ways to “Wow You”, as you have the opportunity to partake of more than 100 unique experiences.

“Every day is a totally new adventure at Ayers Rock Resort. Indulge your wild side, immerse yourself in Indigenous culture, bring the whole family, or strike out on your own — whatever your dream holiday looks like, we’ll deliver, with a generous helping of reddy-reds and more stars than you can count.”

First look, driving towards Uluru, at a distance: grand in the morning light! Photo: Rama Gaind

Make reminiscences that last a lifetime. Surrounded by endless plains, rolling dunes, and an air of tranquillity, nothing can prepare you for the remarkable views and the feeling you get when you see Uluru, the world’s largest monolith, for the first time. Moments as simple as experiencing sunrise and sunset in this vast desert landscape feel entirely different in this other-worldly slice of the outback.

The spectacular changing colours of Uluru were certainly eye-catching at sunrise. Even scuttling clouds and sprinkling rain evaporated — just long enough — for a brilliant crack of dawn at 5.50am! In the company of our professional guide, Jack, Desert Awakenings introduced us to the natural and edifying panoramas of this remarkable region.

Cultural creativity was celebrated as we immersed ourselves in a day of mesmerising experiences during an enlightening visit to the Gallery of Central Australia (GoCA). It was Freddy who imparted a lot of knowledge as he skillfully guided us to realise the gallery also helped amplify the reach of Indigenous art to the rest of the world, bringing awareness of these masterpieces to a broader audience beyond Australia.

Going on a garden walk with local expert Dylan was educational. Photo: Rama Gaind

Conceived as a place where Central Australian Indigenous artists would have their work featured and careers supported, GoCA now exclusively displays over 350 artworks by emerging and established Central Australian Indigenous artists. In addition to on-canvas art, GoCA showcases specially curated items like Punu (traditional Anangu wood carvings), sculptures, and pieces designed and crafted in local Indigenous communities.

Exhilarating stay
Guided garden walks are not only invigorating, but educational. Listen to stories of Aboriginal beliefs, Australian and local bush tucker and traditions through bush yarns. A resident expert, Dylan, highlighted the seasonal local flora, bush foods, trees native to Australia and the medicines traditionally used. There’s still so much more to re-discover!

Sunset offered unique gourmet adventures to satisfy all the senses. Relaxed dining under a starry desert sky was appealing. The sight of a million stars was fairylike. A gentle sway of colour lit up the desert as darkness fell and Uluru was thrown into silhouette. You have to experience the magical Field of Light which vividly illuminated the landscape. The food was delectable and all the dinner guests were amazed. There are few places where the stars shine as brightly as they do in the outback!

Last glimpse (on this trip) of Uluru from the air: magnificent! Photo: Rama Gaind

Visiting Uluru was an exhilarating sojourn, filled with wonder, excitement and elation. This heartening adage delivers more than just motivation. “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” Inspiring words. “The knowledge is within you — use it wisely in your life path.”

Professor Tom Calma, an Aboriginal Australian human rights and social justice advocate, and 2023 Senior Australian of the Year, explicitly puts it into perspective:

“Here in Australia, we’re fortunate enough to have one of the richest and oldest continuing cultures in the world. This is something we should all be proud of and celebrate.”


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