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Apr 14, 2016
From the moment you see Uluru – the ancient, purple-hued monolith situated in the Northern Territory’s dusty desert landscape – every cliché you’ve ever heard about Australia’s “spiritual heart” rings true. It’s humbling, striking and the energy is palpable. The wondrous site, sacred to Anangu, is home to a host of experiences in 2016. From Bruce Munro’s Field of Light to al fresco fine dining, a trip to this fascinating natural wonder will stay with you long after you leave.
Immerse Yourself In Bruce Munro’s Field of Light
Save Australia’s bustling cities and attention-seeking beaches for another time and make a trip to Bruce Munro’s Field of Light before it switches off next April. This otherworldly instillation, located 15 kilometres north of Uluru, comprises 50,000 frosted-glass bulbs, the interconnected stems of which are planted into the Outback’s red earth. The solar-powered tendrils light up at night, changing colour as you walk through them, illuminating a vast 49,000 square metres. Wake up early and watch the vivid shoots be washed oblique at sunrise, or enjoy a hazy rainbow sunset, as the clear stems turn into a vivid light show under the stars. You’ll try to intellectualise what this ephemeral instillation might mean as you wander through it and indeed, Munro’s temporary, high-tech stems juxtaposed against eternal Uluru are loaded with symbolism. But just try to enjoy the sight for what it is: glorious.
Field of Light just before dawn.
Dine under the Milky Way at Tali Wiru
Dinner under the stars is the standard when it comes to romantic experiences, but there’s nothing run-of-the-mill about Tali Wiru. This open-air restaurant seats 20 guests at a time, creating an incongruously intimate and exclusive experience on a dune in the seemingly infinite desert. Enjoy canapés including pan-seared scallop with native finger lime and braised crocodile bao over a sunset champagne. Then, indulge in the seasonal four-course menu, highlights of which include bush tomato burrata, wagyu beef fillet and wild rosella verrine for dessert. This is an impeccable gastronomic experience, one that effortlessly marries ruggedness and refinement in one of the world’s dustiest landscapes.
The sunset at Tali Wiru - #nofilter required.
Take a Desert Adventure at sunrise
You mightn’t be fond of early starts but the Desert Adventures tour is worth the 4.30am alarm. See the sunrise from the Tali Wiru vantage point and watch as Uluru and the domes of Kata Tjuta wake up, punctuating the vast, vibrant landscape at dawn. A drive to Uluru follows. Don’t fall asleep – you’ll see some of the trip’s most transfixing vistas from the comfort of your bus seat. Desert oaks, shaped like pipe cleaner trees plucked from a Dr Seuss illustration, line the road, as circular bushes sprout from the rich red landscape that leads to Uluru. Upon arrival, you'll find the sheer enormity of this 384-meter site overwhelming. The spiritual energy is intense and the feeling it gives you is impossible to pin down. The trip includes a visit to the Mutitjulu waterhole where you can see the ancient rock art up close, as a guide talks you through Indigenous creation narratives.
Ride the Camel Express
If you’re travelling with kids (or not), a ride on the camel train is a memorable way to enjoy the scenery. You’ll be surprised how calm these creatures are as they take you on a relaxed journey past the awe-inspiring backdrop of Kata Tjuta and Uluru. Join a tour at sunrise or sunset and share the cameleer’s expertise on the local flora and fauna while marvelling at the changing colours of the desert that surrounds.
The landscape from the back of a camel.