Roadtrip! Darwin to Uluru

Darwin to Alice Springs

We took a road trip from Darwin to Alice Springs. It was lots of fun! We discovered a few quirky little towns, and drove a road that was mostly pretty straight!

Alice Springs to Uluru

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Bitter Springs

We made several overnight stops, but I think our favourite was at Bitter Springs. There’s a thermal spring that feeds a river just outside the campground, and it’s such fun to float down the bathwater warm river, enjoying the sunshine as it ripples through the trees and across the water.

In the evening we laughed at a gecko outside our window screen, trying to catch a preying mantis that was inside the screen! And in the morning, we had a visitor that we had been warned about!

I believe that Mataranka Springs nearby is usually more popular and busy. Bitter Springs was just lovely 🙂

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Uluru (Ayers Rock)

I had seen the rock before, when I was in the travel business and took a “quick trip” to Australia, but it never fails to thrill. I expect we’ve all seen photos, and it looks exactly as it does in photos, of course. But it’s exciting and beautiful to see. There is something spiritual about this huge rock rising out of pretty flat land around. I’m not surprised that the local Indigenous people hold it in such high esteem. Click here  and also here, to learn a little more about the Indigenous people of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The colours change all the time. Sunrise and sunset are of course prime viewing times, but the colours change all day long. If a cloud passes over, the colours change. If you look at a different angle, the colours change. Marvellous.

Uluru Sunrise

It was June when we visited, the depths of winter (despite the blazing blue skies!). We heard on the news one day that there had actually been snowfall at Alice Springs! So when I got up pre-dawn to get into position for prime picture-taking, it was cold!! I bundled up in jacket, gloves and scarf, took hot coffee with me, and bounced around to keep warm while I waited for sunrise. It really is magical to see the light change, to see the rock change colour, and the sun to start glowing at the edge of the sky!

(click photos to view fullsize)

(click photos to view fullsize)

Uluru Sunset

Although it’s winter, the temperatures are really pleasantly warm during the day. Come the end of a long day’s rock-viewing, people start to get into place to watch the sun set. Again, like sunrise, the colours of the rock change, the colours of the sky change, the air starts to cool down, and then suddenly it’s over. Uluru is grey, the sky is darkening quickly, and the cold winter night is beginning.

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(click photos to view fullsize)

Uluru Daytime

We took a couple of free ranger-led interpretive walks around Uluru. Many of the rangers are local Indigenous people, and it’s fascinating to hear their stories of how people used to live around here, the various ceremonies that are still performed, and the stories and legends that are passed on about the formation of the land.

(click photos to view fullsize)

(click photos to view fullsize)

There is a pool within the rocks that never runs dry. When it rains in the winter (not often), the rock runs with spectacular waterfalls.  Uluru is sacred to the local Indigenous people, and they request, that out of respect, visitors not climb it, however, people still do. And whether you respect the local wishes or not, it’s often a very bad idea. While we were there, at least three people needed to be rescued (at great cost).

Uluru waterhole

Uluru Nightime

While we were staying at the Uluru Resort, we decided to do the Sounds of Silence dinner. It’s quite pricey, but it was a beautiful experience. A bus takes you up to a terrific viewpoint, where bubbly and canapes are served as the sun goes down to the requisite oohs and aahs. Then you are taken to a large table, where you get a chance to continue chatting with other guests.  A very good buffet dinner is served, with wines, dessert and coffee. Fortunately there are heating lamps between the tables, but nevertheless in winter it’s a pretty chilly experience! There are haunting didgeridoo players, and dancers. There’s a star point-out, which is fun. And then you’re taken back to your resort.

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Kata Tjuta

About 50 kms to the west of Uluru is another group of rock formations, formerly called the Olgas, now known as Kata Tjuta. Another beautiful place of rocks, light and sun.

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We acknowledge the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people as the traditional owners and guardians of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

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6 thoughts on “Roadtrip! Darwin to Uluru”

  1. God I love this part of the country. At one time or another Don and I have been to all these places. We did a hike through Kata Tjuta, we didn’t climb Uluru but hiked around it, we went to Mataranka, but you’re right Bitter Springs is better. Thanks for the memories!

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