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Published January 22nd 2013
Beauty abounds in Australia's Red Centre
Australia is know for its iconic and striking imagery- the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the natural wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. But it is the deep red ochre of Uluru and its cultural significance to traditional landowners that captivates the imagination and brings visitors from far corners of the world to Australia's Red Centre.
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is located deep within the Northern Territory, approximately 450 kilometres south west of Alice Springs. There are a variety of coach tours available from Alice Springs but unless you really enjoy riding in a bus for extended periods of time the best way to visit Uluru is to fly into the town of Yulara via Conellan Airport. From here you will be able to access car rentals or shuttles to take you to your accommodation. This is a beautiful, but highly remote area and it is well advised to book everything in advance to avoid disappointment.
There are several local tour options to choose from or you can hire a vehicle to give yourself more flexibility. Access to Uluru is via the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The Park is open year round, however the best time to visit is generally in the Spring or Autumn (April-May or September-October) to avoid the worst of the heat. Access fees apply to the park but you can purchase a three day pass which allows you multiple entry. For a remote destination, it can get busy with tourists so try to plan your trip well in advance and allow yourself plenty of time to explore Uluru and the Cultural Centre and the various walking tracks.
The track around Uluru is about 10.6 kilometres to circumnavigate or you can opt to walk various sections. Certain areas are designated as sacred sites and it is advised that pictures are not taken of these areas. You will be able to observe ancient rock art and explore the various rock formations that have been created by years of wind and water erosion. You are also asked to keep to the tracks and not enter the waterholes that are tucked into the base of the rock formation.
If possible it is best to see Uluru at various times throughout the day with sunrise and sunset being very popular. The colours of the rock appear to change as the sunlight moves across which makes for a beautiful way to start or end the day. Climbing Uluru is popular with some tourists but the area is holds great cultural and spiritual significance to Anangu, the local Aboriginal people, and they request that you do not climb. The climbing track is often closed due to high winds and there have been calls to enact a total restriction on climbing due to the cultural significance as well as high risk of injury.
Top tips for visiting Uluru include: Book accommodation, tours and vehicles well in advance Self-drive if possible to allow yourself the opportunity to explore at your leisure and at different times Take plenty of water and sun protection and stay to the marked trails Invest in one of the fly-net protectors that can be worn over your head. You may feel silly with it on but it is so much better than having flies in your nose, eyes and mouth. And there are LOTS of flies.
• Respect the local culture. It's not hard and it won't take anything away from your visit.