Sounds of Silence – a dining experience promising buffet-style bush tucker; an outback dinner party with fellow travellers under a star-filled velvet sky. It sounded so alluring that Kent and I needed very little encouragement to sign up. Cameras, tick! Appetite, tick! ‘I think we are ready to go!’
A Visual Feast To Start The Journey
Our three-hour dinner journey began with a short walk from the coach to the top of a sand dune. As we made our way I heard the distinctive rumbling sound of live didgeridoo playing. Arriving at the top, I was relieved to find a little lookout platform of pavers, so we would not be sinking into the sand! We were greeted by smiling staff and were soon offered chilled sparkling wine or beer. The music from the didgeridoo seemed to put us all in an ‘outback mood’ and I enjoyed it. ‘The sound really goes well with this expansive backdrop.’ I thought.
Expansive indeed, surrounded by panoramic views of the spectacular landscape. In front of us, classic scenery of Uluru; behind us, familiar shapes of Kata Tjuta. Looking at these two famous Central Australian icons, there were very little signs of modern development in between. The late afternoon light was warm and rich, casting a golden hue of which fellow travellers/diners took opportunity to make photos, selfies and videos. ‘Cheers~’ Kent and I toasted the big rock, enjoying the unique atmosphere.
Canapés came with indigenous inspired flavours. Outback herbs and seeds, native ingredients; these finger foods were beautiful to look at and they were tasty too. Kangaroo on Sourdough Bread was very popular. My favourite bite, the moist savoury Crocodile Muffins. Who knew crocodiles could be this delicious!
As the last rays of light began to fall, our organiser delivered a welcome talk and some guidelines to follow – before it got too dark, to make our way down to a lower part of the dunes for dinner. Kent and I however were being seduced by the sight of a perfect sunset silhouette of Kata Tjuta. We were in awe of the stunning outlook from the lookout, trying in several spots to capture the breathtaking beauty of the Red Centre. Well that explains why we were the last to arrive at the dinning area.
A Buffet-Style Bush Tucker Dinner With Like-Minded Travellers
Part of the fun of this outdoor dinner was that we sat with like-minded travellers from around the world. I love round tables and there were six large ones that evening, each with eight guests. As Kent and myself having been caught up in photographic activities were the last to arrive, we also joined the last table to be seated.
‘Nice to meet you! Cheers~’ up went the first toast, and brief introductions later we learnt that we were at table with Italian honeymooners, a young Swedish-Swiss-couple; mother-daughter-travellers from Melbourne, together with Aussie Kent and my Taiwanese/Chinese/Australian self. We exchanged Central Australian travel experiences and international ones too. When I asked the Italian newly-weds why they chose this part of the world for their honeymoon? They explained: ‘It’s been a long time in the planning, we always wanted to see outback Australia!’
As night fell, the afterglow of sunset coated our environment with magic colours. With the sun extinguished, astonishingly those aggressive flies suddenly and completely disappeared! As we settled in, our friendly waitstaff talked us through the upcoming three course barbecue buffet of Barramundi, Kangaroo; Emu and Lamb Chops which were among our protein choices. Salads and vegetables featuring Australian finger lime, lemon myrtle and other native spices would be followed by classic desserts. All courses complimented with fine wine and beer options from Australia’s very own producers.
First course table service – Bush Tomato Soup. I quite liked this aromatic entrée.. ‘It’s like an exotic version of the usual tomato soup.’ Well that’s how I described it. After that, guests took turns to visit the buffet by table number. We were Table Six of six tables, that meant we were the last group for each course. Could it be the reason my kangaroo was rather dry? Most likely. Here’s a note, don’t book the event expecting classic fine dining; it’s more about an atmospheric experience in my opinion.
A Journey Through The Constellations Of The Southern Night Sky
After our starter and main course and some seat hoping, we were asked to return to our places. The lights were dimmed and a voice rang out from the dark.. ‘Good evening ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Sounds of Silence. Have you ever wondered why this event was given this name? This is what it’s about…’ Here was the Resort’s resident astronomer who was about to lead us on a journey through the constellations of the Southern night sky…
With no light pollution in this remote location. We were sitting in pitch dark and the stars revealed themselves to us as I had never seen before. It’s magic and very peaceful, surreal even; and yes, very quiet too! That’s why it’s called Sounds of Silence, I finally understood. Picture a canvas of darkness decorated with jewel-like shining stars – phenomenal!
Our star guide was holding a laser pointer, taking us on a stargazing tour.. yes, with his laser pointer directing our gaze across those night skies. From locating the Southern Cross, the signs of the Western Zodiac; the Milky Way to sharing a few Australian indigenous astronomy myths such as the two brothers Nuruguya-mirri and Napiranbiru, their fishing boat and the fatal storm. It was wonderful, definitely one of the highlights of our evening.
A Sweet Yet Rushed Close To The Night
After the star talk, it was time for dessert! Again each table took its turn by ascending number to be summoned to the dessert buffet. (And a missed opportunity to let the last be first..) There were many succulent choices such as Seasonal Fruits, Chocolate Mud Cake; Mini Rhubarb Crumble Tart, Cheesecake and so on. I came back with a plate of mixed cakes and, because it’s desert, a glass of port.
Ideally, we’d love to take our time to indulge in these sweets and continuing chats with our new friends as the evening winds down. However the three-hour event passes very quickly! As soon as I was enjoying the last sips of my glass of port, we were being rallied to get ready for departure. It seemed rushed when it should be a relaxing end! We understand following a schedule, but to wrap up an incredible evening in such a hurried manner was a shame. Again, being tail-end Charlie for desert; our time to digest was appreciably shorter than those at Table One. After a quick group selfie by one of our new mates, it was time to board the bus.
Thoughts And Tips From A Traveller
Yes the wrap up of the event seemed so sudden, but it has a lot to do with the fact that we were Table Six – the last table. In other words we were the last group to have our turn for getting some food and dessert; therefore we had less time to polish our plates. Not only did we run out of time to taste more variety of those mouth-watering desserts at the end; my main dish of Kangaroo was very dry and my Barramundi was overcooked. It was not the cook’s fault, it was not anybody’s fault actually, the cooked food had simply been sitting in the heated bain-marie for too long. My advice here is, don’t book the event based on the dinner only and if you would love to have more time to enjoy your meal, try joining table one, two or three. Just ask the staff, I’m sure they can help you.. or simply don’t be last off the hill at sunset!
Here’s a hot tip for photography enthusiasts.. Get your camera ready, especially the time towards the end of the pre-dinner drinks up at the lookout place. The organiser moves off the group to the lower ground area right at sunset, and in our experience, the best light we witnessed was during this short time. Kent and I both stopped and took many photos on the way down and ironically, that’s how we ended up at the last table! Having said that, we had fantastic company and we wouldn’t want to change a thing.
Was it worth hanging back for the pictures? Let me sign off on this post by showing these stunning landscape images from Kent. All of them were taken during the ‘last light walk’ to our dining area. At first we thought this was going to be perhaps another touristy thing to tick off the list, but it turned out to be pretty magical and unforgettable.