Uluru is an unexpected luxury and adventure holiday

When you imagine a luxury dinner, Italy or the south of France often come to mind. But there’s an unexpected place in Australia that offers highly sought-after dining experiences.

Uluru is a place of great mystery to many Australians, but the area has completely transformed since the controversial climb was closed on 28 October 2019.

As part of Anangu’s attempt to close down the Uluru climb, they were encouraged to create more tourist revenue and this is how several new attractions were introduced to the area, including Segway tours around the rock and the Wintjiri Wiru sunset dinner .

I was pretty naive about what was about to happen when I landed with Virgin Australia, who recently announced that flights from Melbourne and Brisbane will begin on June 6 and 7.

It is absolutely possible to visit the Red Center on a budget, but if you are willing and able to spend a little money, you will have some unforgettable experiences. You might even say “bucket list worthy.” What you might not expect is that Uluru is a tranquil place where luxury meets an adventurous holiday.

Where to eat at Uluru

The trip was a real whirlwind of good food – and as a celiac that’s not something I can always say as my options are typically severely limited on the food front.

There are a handful of places to eat at Sails in the Desert, one of many lodging spots at Voyages’ Ayers Rock Resort, such as Walpa and Pira Pool Bar, but if you’ve ever wanted to splurge on a meal, I highly recommend it Tali Wiru Dinner under the stars.

Yes, it’s not cheap with a price tag of $440, but it’s worth every penny – and more, in my opinion.

Imagine this; the sun is setting over the back of Uluru. You are offered a glass of sparkling wine and as you walk down a dirt road, a man is heard playing the Yidaki.

You are offered a mix of canapés such as mushroom caps stuffed with cheese and dried tomatoes or duck with emu or kangaroo pate with natural ingredients. That’s all before you sit down with only 19 other guests to eat under the stars.

There is a four-course meal with wine pairing, with diners able to choose between three starters, main course and dessert. Almost everything was gluten-free, except dessert and a canapé.

However, the chef immediately prepared versions for me that were, without any problems or complications.

I have eaten at Michelin starred restaurants and can without a doubt say that there was something so incredibly special about this evening. It surpassed every dining experience I’ve ever had with the best food I’ve ever eaten.

The incredible atmosphere of someone playing traditional instruments and sharing local stories of how the Anangu used the stars, completed the night.

Another excellent dining experience is the Wintjiri Wiru sunset dinner, which is significantly lower in price than Tali Wiru: $295 for adults and $125 for children.

The three-hour experience includes cocktails with Beachtree Gin, an Indigenous-owned distillery, and canapés overlooking Kata Tjuta and Uluru as the sun sets. You will then be given an individual hamper containing seafood, cured kangaroo and emu, as well as dessert and wine. Once again, my celiac disease caused absolutely no problems.

You will then be treated to another beautiful experience: a sound, light and drone show that tells one of the local ancestral stories.

It’s a super fun way to help kids understand more about the First Nations community. However, there is a risk that winds will prevent the drones from operating. But that doesn’t mean the night is over. The light and sound show is just as incredible without it. In my experience, it only ran for half of the 20-minute show, but everyone was given a partial refund since they couldn’t get the full experience.

Where stay

There is one resort across Uluru, Ayers Rock Resort, but it offers different levels of accommodation. There is the campground, the Outback Hotel and Lodge, the Emu Walk Apartments, the Lost Camel Hotel, the Desert Gardens Hotel and Sails in the Desert. I stayed at Sailys in the Desert, which is the more luxurious brand. I opened the balcony door to admire Uluru. Like, how cool is that? There’s a pool with a cocktail bar, lots of restaurants, a spa, and there are a handful of shops not too far away. There is something for every budget.

What to do

I’m not a morning person, but trust me, you’ll kick yourself if you don’t get out of bed early to watch the sun rise over Kata Tjuta and Uluru. There are several ways to do this. My favorite was watching the sunrise while riding a camel named Curly who had a penchant for biting people. Each camel’s personality was as unique as that of a puppy and I was absolutely there for it.

Riding a Segway around Uluru listening to someone tell some of the Anangu story was also a very fun and unique way to visit the rock. The actual hike around Uluru is around 10km, so if you’re not used to walking a lot, this might be an easy way to do it. But be careful, there are some obstacles along the way. Seeing Kata Tjuta and Uluru from the sky, i.e. a helicopter ride, is also an unforgettable experience. It’s almost as if there is an ‘adventure element’ still alive and well in the area despite the climb having been discontinued – and rightly so. But I think it’s a brilliant way to keep that energy alive.

Hiking between two of Kata Tjuta’s peaks is also a highlight, especially with a guide telling you about some of the artwork and what some of the plants are for.

But to have a truly authentic experience and learn about the Anangu people, I think the best place to visit is Maruku Arts and Walkatjara Art. It’s a great place to learn more about the meaning of certain images in indigenous art, as well as having the chance to listen to local history. It is truly one of the most significant moments of my life. It’s a moment of clarity to hear someone share their culture with you, something no one should ever give up.

Maruka Arts has been owned by the Anangu people for more than 40 years and has become one of the largest Australian Aboriginal owned and operated organizations with 900 artists from 20 remote communities.

How to get there

There aren’t many ways to get to the center of Australia – car or plane are the only two options. However, this has been made much easier with Virgin Australia announcing that from 6 June there will be four flights from Melbourne to Uluru and four return flights each week. There will also be three weekly flights from Brisbane to Uluru from 7 June, as well as three return flights.

The writer traveled to Uluru as a guest of Virgin Australia

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