The stunning Field of Lights under a full moon
Click on images to enlarge
18 May 2019
An opportunity arose to revisit Uluru (last visit July 2015) so jumped at the chance because I am really looking forward to seeing the Field of Lights, a new installation since my last visit. A pleasant train ride to Sydney this afternoon for an overnight stay with my friend Barb and on Sunday we fly out to Uluru for a 3-night stay.
19 May 2019
Barb’s son, Martin, kindly delivered us to Sydney airport this morning. We had plenty of time to spare, so after checking in we had a casual breakfast before making our way to the lounge to wait for the plane. Although the plane was ready to leave on time there was some delay waiting to take off, but finally we were off the ground. It was a smooth trip of about 3.5 hours, before arriving at Uluru, getting on our shuttle bus and checking in at Sails in the Desert in the early afternoon. It was nice to have time to unpack our bags, and have a look around the Resort. Our room was only a short walk to the restaurant.
The weather was very warm as we walked to Town Square and explored the various shops. It is the town of Yulara that comprises the entire Ayers Rock Resort which includes Sails in the Desert Hotel, Desert Garden Hotel, Emu Walk Apartments, Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge, and Ayers Rock Camping Ground, plus the Town Square. A Resort Shuttle bus runs about every 20 minutes to hop on and hop off to access the various hotels, apartments etc, and the Town Centre, which is the main shopping centre for the whole of Yulara.
A phenonomen which did not bother me when I visited Uluru in July 2015 was the flies (perhaps they are not around during the cooler winter weather). Barb was equipped with a great sunhat which had a fly net incorporated into it, but I really had to find a fly net before the flies drove me insane! We tried the supermarket first, then a few other shops, and finally we were directed to the Wintjiri Arts & Museum where I was successful in buying a flynet, which I fitted over my sunhat very quickly! Much more comfortable.
This evening we will be collected by coach at 5.15pm for a trip to the Field of Light dinner, under the stars. Our first stop was to a lookout to see Uluru as the sun was setting, watching the colours changing on Uluru, and the full moon rise. In the distance we saw the camel drivers ready and waiting to start their ride through the Field of Lights, and the photograph I was able to take had Kata Tjuta in the background.
Champagne and canapes (including kangaroo, crocodile, lemon myrtle, caramelised onion and feta) were served, and it was interesting to taste the different flavours. It was magical watching the sun set in the west and the brilliant new moon rise in the east.
After our champagne and canapes we walked to the dining area, set up under the stars, and guided to our tables while a didgeridoo player entertained us, finally walking to each of the individual tables to play. The staff were introduced to us, and the first course of fresh native tomato soup and lemon myrtle bread roll was served. Wines and ales were available and frequently topped up! The staff then guided nominated table groups to a delightful buffet with choices of salads, chicken, kangaroo meat, barramundi, lamb cutlets, whole baby potatoes, beans, coleslaw etc etc, all very delicious.
After dinner an astronomer joined us to point out the different stars and constellations, many of which we could not see well due to the dazzling gold full moon, however she was very interesting in describing the various constellations. Desserts were then set out with lots of sugary delights to tempt the appetite, tea/coffee and a small glass of port to round up a delightful meal, shared with extremely and friendly dinner companions from Victoria.
Then it was time for the magic to start with a casual walk through the Field of Lights, Bruce Munro’s internationally acclaimed art installation, glittering at the base of Uluru. The installation includes 50,000 stems, it covers an area of 49,000 square metres, is the size of four premium football stadiums and includes about 300,000 component parts. It was both eerie and beautiful to walk among the lights, take in the peace and serenity, and under the glorious full moon. It was a late night, and we left the Field of Lights with lots of memories of a very special evening.
Read more about the Field of Lights here
20 May 2019
Due to a late night at the Field of Lights we planned a quiet casual day. Again it was a beautiful sunny day to walk to the Gecko Cafe for breakfast of porridge and fruit and coffee, followed by a walk around the Town Square. There are two cafes in the Town Square (Kulata Academy Cafe and Gecko’s Cafe) where young Indigenous people are being trained in hospitality, and they are doing a great job. We were interested in the huge jars holding various vegetables, a great feature on the bar (right).
We had talked about a trip on the Hop On Hop Off bus to the Cultural Centre but after a few misunderstandings and miss-advice as to the procedure to make a booking, pay for the trip plus pay for the National Park Pass, we were delayed in catching the coach. We had time for a quick snack before making our way to the front of Sails Resort to catch the bus to the Cultural Centre.
On the way to the Centre we passed the section of Uluru where people are still permitted to climb the rock, although the tribal elders and most indigenous people prefer that this stops and after October 2019 it will be illegal to do the climb. We saw young and old people, children, babies in slings doing the climb, it is an extremely dangerous climb, very steep and many people have lost their lives climbing the rock. I was both saddened and disgusted that people will continue to climb as it is very disrespectful to our indigenous people.
I had visited the Cultural Centre on my last trip but it is an interesting place to visit with new things to see including some indigenous women creating magical dot paintings. We had some time before the bus would take us back to the Resort, so we visited the cafe for a double icecream cone (mango and strawberry) while we waited. Unfortunately taking photos is discouraged in and outside the Centre, so we only have our memories of what we saw!
On our bus trip home we alighted at the Desert Gardens Hotel stop so we could check out the Wintjiri Arts and Museum and noted the time for the Bush Tucker talk that we are interested in joining tomorrow. It was also an opportunity to check out the Arnguli Restaurant in the Hotel where we will have dinner on our last night. On the walk back to Sails we came across some beautiful grevillia trees covered in tiny coloured moths obviously enjoying the honey (see bottom of page).
This evening we dined at Sails Resort, a delicious pasta dish, with a glass of Merlot, then shared a sweet lemon meringue pie with icecream – very decadent!
21 May 2019
We were up early this morning to be collected at 6.15am for our trip to see the sunrise at Uluru, then a walk around the base of the rock – about 12kms including side tracks. We were lucky to have a nice group of people from various parts of the world, and two great guides, one was the bus driver Macca. We started our walk on the eastern side of the rock so we could see the sunrise, colouring the sky a vivid orange and gold, and reflecting beautiful varying shades on Uluru. Although the weather was mild, we had layers of clothing, that we removed as we went along, as the weather become much warmer.
Although I had been to Uluru before and had done a number of walks along parts of the base, this is the first time I had ventured the whole base walk. Our guides were very informative, told lots of stories while we enjoyed watching the changing scenery of the rock. We reached the half way point and had the option of going on the bus and spending half an hour at the Cultural Centre and meeting up with the others at the Mutitjulu Waterhole about 30 minutes later. I had walked along that particular section before, so took the option and spent half a hour at the Centre then rejoined the party at the Waterhole. and completed the walk from there, by this time it was becoming very hot.
While Macca was driving to the Cultural Centre we discussed the cessation of the climbing of the rock. Macca explained that some of the tribal elders want the Uluru climb to remain. Their theory is that if they are able to continue this climb, the tourists would keep away from their other sacred sites. The Japanese are the tourists who mostly do the climb, perhaps because the Japanese have that spirit of conquering most things!
When we returned to the Waterhole Macca gave a very impassioned talk about the indigenous people and their stories, and I’m sure those on the walk had learned much more about their culture. There was still 30 minutes left to walk, most of it in the hot sun, but we made it and Macca then drove us back to Sails Hotel, where we were presented with our certificates for completing the walk. Although we knew we would be a bit late, we decided to walk to the Wintjiri Gallery for the Bush Tucker talk by Leroy, and tasting the delicious Wattleseed Shortbread biscuits with Rosella Jam. We now have the recipe for Wattleseed Shortbread and I can’t wait to try it!
Tonight we dined at the Desert Gardens Hotel, our last dinner at Uluru, made possible by the kind gift of Barb’s sons who gave her a Mother’s Day present of a voucher for a dinner for two. It was a delicious dinner, (chicken, sweet potato and snow peas cooked in a baking paper cushion, with extra vegetables and feta cheese) beautifully served, and with a glass of Merlot. Desert was a cake covered with pink fairy floss and a an icecream covered in red gel to look like an apple! It all made a memorable last dinner.
22 May 2019
This is our last day at Uluru, and we had decided to attend the Garden Walk conducted by our indigenous guide Leroy, at the wonderful native gardens at the Desert Garden Hotel. We were up at a reasonable time to finish our packing, then a walk to the Town Square for another breakfast at Gecko’s cafe, then proceeding to Desert Garden Hotel to meet up with Leroy and set off to see the beautiful gardens.
Leroy was a very knowledgeable and informative guide who explained the different trees and plants, including trees that should never have been planted in the desert as they were unsuitable and would not last as long as the native trees. Pity the indigenous people were not consulted first as to which were the most suitable trees for the area!
Then it was time to return to Sails to finish our packing, vacate our room, and relax with a coffee in the lounge of Sails in the Desert, waiting for our coach to the airport ad admiring some of the indigenous artworks (right). All went smoothly, flight was on time, and with much regret after such a lovely holiday, we were up, up and away to Sydney, snatching a goodbye from the plane (left). We made our way by train to a suburban station where Barb’s son, Martin, again collected us and delivered us home. Martin had even cooked a delicious dinner for us – he is a great chef!
Barb and I both agreed that it was a very different holiday, in a beautiful and spiritual part of Australia, and we enjoyed every minute.
Some of the beautiful native flowers (below).