Uluru cycling and spectacular sunset

Are we having fun at Yulara? You bet we are!

An early start was needed for our cycling around the rock adventure. We had to be out at the Cultural Centre at Uluru before our booking at 9am. We set off from the campground about 8.15am with our backpacks full of water and snacks. Sadly, we were without Katie though. She had a tummy bug and didn’t feel it would be a good idea to do the ride. We thought we’d ask when we got there if we could change the day for our booking.

Heading out towards the rock early in the morning and the colour of the rock is very different. It looked really brown in the morning light.

Uluru early in the morning

We arrived in plenty of time and checked in at Cycle Uluru. We did ask if we could change our booking however they had no kids bikes available for any other day so we had to do our ride without Katie. Oh well, c’est la vie!

After choosing bike helmets and being allocated our bikes, a guide gave us a quick safety briefing and sent us on our way. Basically the safety briefing was there are two toilet blocks, one at The Cultural Centre and one at the Mala Car Park. Cyclists are to ride to the Mala Car Park then follow the cycling signs so you are going in an anti-clockwise fashion around the rock. All cyclists are to give way to pedestrians. That was about it!

We set off with three young people all very excited to be finally cycling around the rock. We’d talked about doing this for such a long time now we were actually doing it.

It was a chilly morning and the first part of our ride around was in the shade so it was quite cool. The kids were very excited when we arrived at a part where you could touch the rock. Actually touch it!

We stopped along the way to check out Muṯitjulu Waterhole, one of the most reliable waterholes around the rock. There are small caves there where Aboriginal men would have hidden while they kept their eye out for game that came to the waterhole to drink.

Further on we came to Mutitjulu Cave and checked out the old rock paintings. This would have been a place where people camped and used the rock paintings to tell stories. These stories are still being taught to young people to this day.

We stopped again at ‘wave rock’ and it’s a bit hard to tell from the photos just how big the ‘wave’ is.

The winding red gravel path is mostly wide enough for two people to walk side by side and follows around the edge of the rock for most of the way. By about half way around we finally came out into the sun and this helped to warm us up a bit.

It’s very hard to describe how huge the rock is. At one point I stopped to take photos and the whole rock wouldn’t fit in. I tried doing a panorma but I’m not very good at those!

The Base Walk is 10.6km all the way around and we had three tired little people by the time we made it back to the Mala Car park. We’d done it! We’d cycled around the rock. It had taken us 2 hours. Not speedy I know, but we did stop a lot. You just have to stop to look at the rock and take it all in.

We made it!

We enjoyed a well-earned 15 minute break at Mala Car park where there are lots of benches to sit on. Mala Car Park is the spot where people used to start their climb of the rock when it was allowed. Looking up at the track up the rock I really don’t see the attraction of climbing. It is very steep and looks so dangerous.

You can make out the faint trail where people used to climb the rock

We set off back to the Cultural Centre to deliver our bikes back to Cycling Uluru as our booking finished at 12noon. We made it with half and hour to spare. Our whole ride had taken us 2 1/2 hours and we’d done 15km in total.

It was a quick process to deliver our bikes and helmets back and then we headed in to check out the Cultural Centre. The Cultural Centre houses a souvenir shop, a cafe, an Indigenous Art store and an Art Gallery. Rich bought the kids all an ice cream and while they sat and ate those I checked out the art. The Indigenous Art Store has lots of paintings and wooden artefacts for sale, all made by local artists.

The Art Gallery is well worth a look as it houses superb examples of the famous dot paintings. Four lady artists were working on paintings and they are amazing to watch. The attention to detail is incredible. Those large dot paintings are so time consuming to paint dot by dot. No wonder the prices in the gallery ranged from $3,000 to $23,000. I didn’t buy one!

The kids were all keen to have a look at the artists at work so we carefully walked into the gallery so they could watch. They were all very impressed by the workmanship involved.

Our tired little group piled back into the car and I think a couple of them nodded off on the way back to camp. We arrived back to a spotless camp. Katie had been cleaning! Fortunately she was feeling a bit better.

We spent the afternoon napping, watching movies, people watching (we’ve got new neighbours) and blogging. Not sure about one of our new neighbours. You should see how they’ve parked their van. It’s on such an angle I don’t know how they’ll be able to sleep in it.

Around 4.30pm we loaded our chairs, table and picnic rug into the car along with some drinks and nibbles and set off back out to the National Park to watch sunset on the rock. To enter the National Park all adults must buy a ticket. You can purchase them online. It costs $38 for a three day pass or you can purchase an Annual Pass for $50. Children are free. As we were going in and out for 6 days we purchased Annual Passes for Rich, Katie and myself. When you reach the park boundary there is a ranger station. If you have a pre-purchased pass you can enter via the left lane and here you scan your pass and the boom gate opens. Those without passes have to enter the queue in the other lane and purchase tickets from the ranger before they can enter.

The Sunset Viewing car park is in the perfect spot to get the best views of the rock as the sun sets and it pays to get there early as the spots fill up quickly. We found a great spot with room in front of the car for our chairs and table. We had a lovely man and his two girls from Sydney on one side and another lovely man and his two girls also from Sydney on the other side.

Watching the sun set on the rock is incredible, amazing and very moving. I took so many photos. Here’s a few.

We all had such a great time and stayed out there until we were almost the last car to leave. What a fabulous evening and one I’m sure we will all remember for a very long time.


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