Exploring Yulara and we ride camels

Yulara is an interesting place. It is basically a big resort with multiple hotels and apartments as well as the Campground. The resort caters to all budgets from the top end at Sails in the Desert to basic tent camping for bus groups. Visitors can fly directly to Yulara as there is an airport or you can fly to Alice, pick up a hire car, camper or motorhome and drive to Yulara. This seems to be a very popular option as we’ve seen many rental campers and motorhomes since we left Alice.

The resort has a Town Square and it is here that you find the shops, Post Office and IGA Supermarket. I was surprised at the supermarket. It holds quite an extensive stock of supplies including meat, fresh vegetables and bread. We would be able to stock up again before we left to go to Kings Canyon.

We spent an hour or so wandering around the shops and then settled in the square to listen to the Didgeridoo Workshop. Ben was chosen to be a didge player along with a few other men and boys. Maddie put her hand up to have a go but was told politely that, culturally, only men and boys play the didgeridoo.

We spent the next hour watching the men and boys learning to play and listening to the didgeridoo. It is a fabulous sounding instrument and we learnt that didge players are really singers and use their body in the same way that singers do to produce the sounds. A really good didge player has to practice often and keep their vocal chords in good shape just as singers do.

We also learnt that didgeridoos can be in a certain key and they are basically an amplifier for the voice of the player.

Ben and his didge

We bought a couple of hot chooks and salad from the supermarket and headed back to camp to have lunch and prepare for our afternoon camel ride.

We had to be at the Campground Bus Stop by 1.44pm to be collected by the Uluru Camel Tours bus. We were ready and waiting when the bus pulled up.

Waiting at the bus stop

It was a short drive out to the camel farm and here we were given a safety briefing and told a little bit about what to expect on our ride. Then we were led out to where our saddled camels were waiting. They were all sitting on the ground and didn’t look so big. The saddles are all for two people so Maddie rode with me, Ben rode with Katie and Riley rode with Pa.

We had another family of three with our little group and they all managed to get on and their camels stood up with no problems.

Riley and Pa were next and were helped onto their camel, Archer, with Pa on the back and Riley at the front. The look on Riley’s face as the camel stood up was priceless. He looked absolutely terrified but once Archer was standing he relaxed.

Maddie and I were next and we managed to get on with no trouble but then our camel, Curly, started to stand up and Maddie lost it. She was scared, sobbing and shaking. I managed to calm her down and held on to her until she got used to be up so high. And it is up very high off the ground! It didn’t take long before she relaxed and enjoyed the ride.

Katie and Ben were next and they managed to get on and their camel, Jed, very calmly rose up to standing with both Katie and Ben hanging on tight.

Our guide, Tracey, rode the lead camel, Jonny, and once she was sure we were all ready we set off. It is NOT like riding a horse. The gait of a camel is completely different to any horse I’ve ever been on however, if you’ve ridden a horse, you soon get used to the movement of the camel.

Tracey led us out into the desert towards Uluru telling us lots of information along the way about camels and how they came to be in Australia, how they’ve been used as transport and cargo carriers, and fun facts about the camel.

The camels we were riding were one humped (Dromedaries) camels. The ones with two humps are called Bactrian camels. The hump is actually a big lump of fatty tissue that the camel uses to regulate its body temperature. It stores heat in it during the day and releases it at night when it’s cold. They also have very large veins running down their powerful back legs and, to keep cool, they urinate on their legs. As it dries this helps to keep them cool.

Camels have three stomachs and they can digest almost all the plant life we could see around us in the desert as we walked along. They chew their cud just like cows do. A camel burp is the most unpleasant smell because it comes from food being digested for days. Ewwww!

As our little group went over a sand dune we had a great view of the big red rock. Tracy stopped us all there so we could get great photos of us all on our camels with the rock in the background.

All our kids asked lots of great questions of Tracy and she was more than happy to answer them. We learned that camels can drink 150-200 litres of water in one go. Full grown male camels weigh between 800kg to over 1 tonne and they can carry up to 50% of their body weight. So a one tonne camel like Archer can carry up to 500kg. That’s incredible. Not wonder they were used in the outback for so long as beasts of burden.

All the camels used by Uluru Camel Tours are castrated males that have been caught in the wild and trained to take tourists for rides. These camels can do this all day without getting tired. The owner and his crew recently did a camel roundup on a nearby property and caught 270 camels. Wild camel numbers in Australia are an estimate only and it is reckoned there are over 1 million of them roaming the deserts of the inland.

Our 45 minute camel ride was over in no time and we’d all thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Maddie declared it was great fun and the camel getting down was much better than when it got up. Our camels all obediently got down so we could all dismount easily. The camels were happy for us to give them all a pat and even seemed to enjoy a scratch on the ears. They are truly amazing animals.

What a fabulous experience and one I’m sure we’ll all remember for a very long time. We definitely recommend this one to families. Such a fun thing to do.

The camel farm has a petting zoo with farm animals and the kids were keen to have a look. Our bus driver was happy to take the other guests back and come back for us to give us extra time.

Eventually we had to say farewell to the camel farm and our happy bus driver, Dan, took us back to the Campgound on the little bus.

It was my turn to cook and I did a lamb roast in the Weber and my little oven. It was delicious.

Everyone was off to bed early as we had to be up early the next morning to do our cycle around Uluru.

Happy campers after a lamb roast

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