Ayers Rock, Uluru… two names for the same thing. Australia is using the Aboriginal names for its national parks more and more. With respect for the original inhabitants of the country comes changing names and changing rules. Where climbing Ayers Rock used to be a highlight on an Australia itinerary, more and more people respect the wishes of the Aboriginal people not to climb Uluru these days.
Tour guides and the visitor center will advise against climbing the rock. Not only is it extremely unsafe, but Uluru is also a sacred place to the local Aboriginal people. A white stripe covers the red rock, a trail left behind by all the climbers that have gone up. It stands out and it doesn’t belong. Coming closer you’ll see the chain that helps people climb. The rock is very steep in certain areas and people occasionally fall to their death.
Uluru is in the red center of Australia. The temperatures around here can be in the high forties, not an easy temperature for walking. Before you visit, make sure you check for closures, because walking trails are often closed in the hottest hours of the day. I start my walk around the base of this massive rock with 2 liters of water. You can’t walk around the whole thing today, since that would take too long. In this heat I’ve only got a 2 hour walk planned. I’m constantly opening my water bottle and I seem to sweat it out while I drink it.
From afar Uluru looks smooth and shiny, but coming closer the rock is more rugged and shows a lot of details. There are big holes on the surface, like big gaping mouths. Uluru has dark holes, different shades of red and big boulders around its base. From the pictures I’ve always imagined it was surrounded by sand, but there are still some plants and trees around. The rock draws your attention, perhaps since it’s the only thing on the horizon.
There is something about this natural wonder that just makes you shut up. I am not surprised that this is a sacred place. It’s like something from outer space. The funny thing is that we don’t even see the whole rock. We see about 800m, but most of it is hiding in the ground. Some natural things are just mind blowing. Uluru is one of those.