Welp, I survived finals week 😀 I can’t believe only one semester stands between me and a Bachelor’s in Marine Biology. Excited is an understatement! I can’t wait to finish those last 12 credits, travel, and enter the job sphere!
Speaking of travel, I wanted to get back in the habit of posting more “Wanderlust Wednesday” adventures. I probably should have posted this prior to my Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb post to keep things in chronological order, but whatevs 😉
Simply put, this Wanderlust Wednesday is extremely close to my heart. Traveling to Australia was an amazing experience in itself, but traveling to Ayers Rock was genuinely lifechanging. They say when you visit Uluru, the rock changes you. I was skeptical of the legend, but am now a believer.
We arrived to Ayers Rock by plane from Cairns on May 31st. It was SO bizarre to peer out the plane window and see a monstrous orange slab of rock emerging from the flat, Mars-like dirt. I didn’t snag a picture of it unfortunately–guess it’s just another reason to return 🙂
After landing, we had to ride a bus out to our lodging. Our driver was a funny British guy named Nathaniel and he made my dad and I crack up nonstop. It was about 60*F, so we Texans were in heaven.
My dad and I unpacked and explored the lodge area once we were dropped off. There are a lot of different hotels clustered around central giftshops/grocery store, ranging from high class fancy hotels to tents. We stayed at a place called Pioneer Lodge–not super snazzy, but better than living in a tent. It was really cozy and nice!
While exploring, we saw a ton of birds and then watched the sunset with some other lodge guests before returning to our room.
The next day, we watched the sunrise in the brisk wintry air at “Imalung lookout.” The moon was still out and it was really peacefull–super weird to see our breath in the cold during June, though! After breakfast, we hiked and explored our lodge area, did some giftshopping, and looked for wildlife and creepy bugs.
That afternoon, we had a local aboriginal sunset tour at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, right by the iconic rock.
Riding in the bus over to the Park, the driver told us some fascinating facts about Uluru. The land used to be covered by ocean and during that time, the rock was originally vertical, like a giant pillar, but it fell over millions of years ago. Also, it’s like an iceberg, so the majority of the rock is located underground.
We were so excited when we finally arrived to the Anagu tribe cultural center. There, we found our group and met with our Aboriginal guide, Rebekah, and her translator.
Rebekah led us on paths around the rock and told us the Anagu tribe’s story of creation with the Kuniya “Woma python.” She also shared some facts about the tribe: girls have to cut off all of their hair when they reach maturity and wear it as clothes for awhile and they have no number over 4.
We learned some funny aboriginal vocabulary as well– “Palya” means thank you, hello, bye, and please, but if you pronounce it “Paya,” it means “beat it punk, get out of here!” haha
We then walked over to the sunset viewing area. There were lots of local Aboriginal artists dispersed in the area, selling their trinkets and crafts. I bought a cool hedgehog!
As the sun dipped below the horizon, the rock literally started changing colors: deep purples, bright reds, vibrant oranges, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen! The color of the rock contrasting with the blue sky left everyone speechless.
After getting back to our lodge, we ate dinner and did some stargazing. The outer edges of the Milky Way lit up the sky! The utter silence of the territory in addition to the brightness of the stars nearly made me start crying–it was just so amazing to feel so close to nature. I wish I could capture that feeling of humbleness in a jar and re-live it over and over again. 🙂 It started getting really cold, so we didn’t stay out for very long.
We headed out to Sydney after our brief stay in the Outback, so it was definitey a contrast going from living on the land to big city life. Leaving Uluru, I felt humbled. Learning about a tribe’s way of life, seeing the power a rock can have on a group of people, and feeling so close to nature truly changed me. As we took off from the airport, “when can I return?” repeated like a mantra in my head as I watched the Mars-like scenery disappear into the clouds.