Red Centre Of Australia, Here We Come
The Red Centre is the informal name given to the Southern desert region of the Northern Territory; Alice Springs and further South, a tiny resort and service town called Yulara, which is nearby the famous Uluru and Kata Tjuta, formerly known as Ayers Rock and The Olgas.
When deciding what would be my ‘ultimate Australia experience’ for the 30th anniversary of my Australian immigrant life.. I wanted to go somewhere I had longed to see and explore but never seen myself. Somewhere that is exotic and screams AUSTRALIA at the same time.. um, ULURU!!! Yes it has to be Uluru! Exotic, tick! Iconic, tick, Australia – absolutely, tick tick tick! So that was it, flight to Yulara booked, too easy. Knowing little about this remote part of the country, I was very excited to spend time there and discovering it all with Kent, who was also an Northern Territory newbie.
Well I knew it’s called the Red Centre for a reason but when I first saw the distinctive reddish soil through the window as we came in to land, it surprised me. The landscape looked so different I started wondering why it took me so long to book this trip and I was glad that I finally did. Our three and a half hours flight was shortened to two and a half; and we gained one and a half hours by moving to a different time zone. On arrival, this land looked red, flat and spartan. As we alighted our aircraft onto the tarmac we were greeted by a stiff dry wind, red dust and 40C heat confirming that we were deep in the heart of Australia.
From Yulara Airport To Sails In The Desert
It’s a classic piece of outback Australia, Yulara’s tiny airport. The lobby was rather busy. It’s great to see such a crowd on the 5th day since the official Uluru climb closure. After all, there is plenty to do and lots to see other than sweating or expiring on a scared rock. Luggage collected, Kent and I made our way out of the terminal, took advice as to the correct coach and boarded the waiting resort shuttle bus.
We tried to take in every frame of the local scenery through our eyes if not through our camera lenses during this short bus ride. And then it appeared.. ‘Over there!’ Kent pointed, thrilled as he caught a first glimpse of Uluru.
At a distance of just 8.1km between Yulara Airport and Ayers Rock Resort. It took a little over 10 minutes with dropping off travellers at Desert Garden Hotel and Emu Walk Apartments, part of the Ayers Rock Resort. Next stop the Resort Town Square, where we had spotted an IGA supermarket; after all, being in the middle of a desert for 12 days we would need things and any convenience store would be handy.
‘Here it comes again…’ the intensive heat I was talking about. ‘Well I guess it’s part of the dessert experience, isn’t it!’ Literally right next to the Town Square, with large triangular sandy-beige canopies shading the drive, we had arrived our desert home for the next eight nights, Sails in the Desert. We were early, and luckily that our room was ready so we didn’t need to wait three hours to move in. Highlights checking in included non-alcoholic welcome drinks with a local twist on arrival and each check-in customer received a refreshing cold hand towel, just what we needed! Little things like that put big smiles on people’s faces.
First Impressions Of Our Superior Room
Spacious, clean and most importantly, air conditioned. Our Superior Room was well furnished and complimented with Indigenous artwork; custom designed nature toned and patterned carpet. It’s how I had imagined it actually. A sizeable desk for our laptop which was very useful. A balcony with a view looking out to the red desert sand dunes was a wonderful bonus, it gave me a sense of an outback escape.
Our marble tiled bathroom was large, with hers and his vanity units which impressed me. A bath which of course I love, and a shower too. The design of the bathroom was direct-forward and minimalism; I’ll leave my detailed feedback regarding our accommodation in another post. Overall, our temporary desert home was pretty welcoming and comfortable.
Imalung Lookout Viewing Uluru
After arriving, the first job is always photographing the room! (We work hard indeed!) So having done enough of our interior room pictures for the day it was time for a quick look around and some relaxation. A trip to our local supermarket for stocking up much needed cold soft drinks and snacks. Then just before sunset when the heat became more bearable, Kent and I put on our walking shoes again, heading to the nearby Imalung Lookout on the top-of-the-sand-dune for views of Uluru.
This red desert, was as far as the eye could see, covered by hummock-forming Triodia spinifex and needle-thin trees. We were told that there had been only one rainfall in the last 12 months, the grasses were mostly dry and spiky.
Uluru, the mysterious rock. It’s allure had brought us all here and was admired by all. We struck up brief chats with other visitors at the Imalung Lookout and helped snap photos of people while waiting for sunset. Under the 7pm light the rock appeared purplish, calm and very beautiful. We were happy that this monumental site was finally protected – from the climbers. It looked so peaceful and serene as it has always been for centuries. Feeling hungry after such a big day, and wanting to avoid the walk back to the hotel in the dark, we chose not wait for sunset. We did however feel that our day was then complete once we had seen Uluru; Ayers Rock, as it was called in the past before we knew it’s true name.
Dinner At Walpa Lobby Bar
Back at the hotel, we enjoyed the laid back atmosphere at Walpa whenever we were walking past this lobby bar bistro. Our outback inspired light meals, together with a gin and tonic was a delightful wrap of our first day in the Red Centre. So ends day one! I will share with you this dining experience we had and more in my upcoming post.