Watching the sun set over Uluru is on everyone who visits must do list. It’s even more spectacular than watching the sun rise. This was the last stop of our very long day that began with watching the sun rise. We were pretty tired by this time and the glass of wine that is included in this experience was very welcome.
Watching the sun set is magical. I’d heard about the colours changing from orange to a purple-ish colour to brown before getting darker and darker as the sun sets on the rock, but that doesn’t prepare you for how spectacular it really is.
Kata Tjuta (formerly known as The Olgas) is about 25kms from Uluru but you can just see it in the distance. It is thought it was created the same way Uluru was. That is, all of it was underground but a massive earth movement hundreds of millions of years ago pushed it up out of the ground. The earth surrounding it eroded to leave the thirty-six domes of Kata Tjuta.
After watching the sun rise and doing part of the base walk around Uluru, we got on the bus to Kata Tjuta, to walk through Walpa Gorge. There are many gorges between the domes but only two are open for walks. They are Valley of the Winds and Walpa Gorge. Walpa Gorge is the main one that people walk through. It is shorter but gives a great representation of the area.
The photo above really shows how tall the domes are; they dwarf the people walking towards them.
This chair is one of a few in the area made from local timber.
The million dollar toilet block. Apparently the cost of building this block was so high because of the cost of the materials and getting them to the site. For all that, they are still an ‘open’ toilet meaning there is no plumbing so all waste goes into huge holes in the ground.
After watching the sun rise we began a walk part way around the Rock. The circumference is 9.4kms (5.8mi). There are quite a few walks around the base. You can do them all at once or break them up into each walk. We did the Kuniya and Lungkata Walks. Each of the six walks around the base have their own significance.
The Kuniya Walk focuses on the Kuniya Tjukurpa as well as the place of waterholes in Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park. In addition, information is provided on the pivotal role of the Mutitjulu waterhole in establishing tourism at the Park and its focal point in early interactions between Europeans and traditional owners at Uluru.
The Lungkata Walk focuses on the non-snake reptiles of Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park as well as fire management on the Park. By the time we started this walk the sun came out providing the gorgeous blue sky as the backdrop.
The Sounds of Silence dinner is all about eating under the stars while watching the sun set on Uluru.
For one thing it’s a chance to dress up in more fancy clothes than your normal travelling clothes. On arrival we were served canapes and sparkling wine while we listened to a didgeridoo player. He was excellent. We were given time to mingle and watch the sun setting over Uluru before sitting down to eat. Although it was starting to get very dark (being several kilometres from any artificial light) we went up to the buffet to choose what we would like to eat. On offer were kangaroo, crocodile and emu. I’m not sure if there were any other meats but they were what I chose to eat. There was also pumpkin soup with lemon myrtle. Lemon Myrtle is a very strong-tasting native plant associated with native bush tucker. It has a very strong flavour so is used sparingly. The reason I’m telling you this is that I really hate pumpkin. However I do like lemon myrtle so I decided to try the soup. There is no way I would have known it was pumpkin because of the other flavours. It was really nice. I even texted one of my friends back in Melbourne and said “Guess what I’m eating”. It has now become an inside joke between us.
It was the first time I’d eaten kangaroo, crocodile and emu meat and I enjoyed them all. They were served with a variety of salads. We also ate dessert but I don’t remember what that was. The best part was being able to eat native foods. I hadn’t had much exposure to them at that stage.
After the sun sets we were treated to a talk by a star tracker. He pointed out different constellations. It was really interesting. You can see so much in the desert with no artificial light.
Below are a few photos showing how the colours change as the sun sets on Uluru.
This photo gives you an idea of what it was like eating dinner under the stars.
We stayed at the Desert Gardens Hotel at the resort. There are a lot of different types of accommodation at the resort. We stayed at the Desert Gardens Hotel, a 4 star hotel. There is a 5 star hotel (Sails in the Desert) down to backpackers and camping. Nearby is the very expensive Longitude 121 where Prince William recently stayed during his Royal visit.
Each of the rooms at the Desert Gardens Hotel looks out onto these gardens. There are tables and chairs in the courtyard which makes it a very pleasant place to relax after a day of touring the area.