Cultural Icons: 10 Essential Experiences in Uluru and the Outback

4 min read

Uluru—the spiritual heart of Australia—is a place of unsurpassed natural beauty and cultural significance. Nearby, visitors can explore Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon, which form a cultural trifecta with Uluru that’s not to be missed. Here's a list of 10 ways to experience this world-renowned region.

Take a walk around Uluru

At Uluru, follow in the footsteps of Aboriginal ancestors on one of six established walks near the base or around the entire monolith. A ranger will lead you on the 1.2 m (2 km) Mala Walk alongside Uluru's base and share the story of the Mala (rufous hare-wallaby) people. The full base walk is a 6.5 m (10.6 km) loop around the monolith and will allow you to take in the natural beauty of this important site.

Witness the Field of Light art installation

Experience art like never before at the Field of Light art installation at Uluru, a project by British artist Bruce Munro, in which 50,000 solar-powered spheres light an area the size of seven football fields. Best viewed during sunrise or sunset, the installation, named Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku in the Pitjantjatjara language or 'looking at lots of beautiful lights', is not to be missed.

Explore the domes of Kata Tjuta

Looking to do a bit of hiking? Just 20 minutes drive from Uluru is Kata Tjuta. Known for its 36 steep domes, Kata Tjuta means ‘many heads’ and is sacred to the local Aboriginal Anangu people, who have inhabited the area for more than 22,000 years. Take the Walpa Gorge Walk where you'll spot rare plants and spearwood groves. The longest of all trails at Kata Tjuta is the Valley of the Winds Walk – a moderately difficult track with breathtaking views that are well worth the effort!

Dine under the stars at the Sounds of Silence

For the ultimate starry dining experience, opt for a three-course Sounds of Silence Dinner atop a red desert dune in the middle of the outback. Treat yourself to sparkling wine and canapes as the sun sets and Uluru's striking colour changes begin. At your bush-tucker-inspired dinner, enjoy finely paired Australian wines as an astronomer showcases the planets and galaxies of the pristine night skies above.

Go Hiking At Kings Canyon

It's best to wake before dawn to tackle the 3.5-hour Rim Walk at Kings Canyon (3 hour drive from Uluru). The challenging 500-step climb will all be worth it when you take in views of rock escarpments from the summit. From there, you'll descend into the impossibly green ‘Garden of Eden’ at the bottom of the canyon complete with waterfalls, giant rock formations, and shady creek walks.

Indulge in a 5-Course Dinner 'Under a Desert Moon'

Set under a canopy of stars, Under a Desert Moon offers an elegant 5-course dinner menu made from seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients like free-range emu koftas and wild NT barramundi. This is an exclusive dining experience at Kings Canyon Resort and is designed for intimacy, capping it at 8 couples maximum. Lit only by the moon and the campfire’s flickering glow, it's the perfect ending to a perfect day exploring Kings Canyon and surrounds.

Join a workshop with local artists

Head to Maruku Arts, a collective of some 900 Anangu artists from 20 remote desert communities around Uluru, where you can join a workshop and learn how to do wood-carving or dot-painting from the experts. This is a great opportunity to connect with local artists and learn about their lives, the symbols used in their art, and local bush medicine. You’re sure to leave with a few new Pitjantjatjara words under your belt as well.

Tour by Camel, Harley, Segway, Helicopter, Bicycle & More

While walking is one of the best ways to explore Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, visitors often enjoy a sunrise or sunset camel tour, taking in the sights via helicopter, jumping on the back of a Harley, cycling, or Segwaying around the monolith. For the boldest of travellers, a tandem skydive offers one of the more extreme ways to experience the region, hands down!

Bring home something special from Wintjiri Arts and Museum

A must-visit is Wintjiri Arts and Museum, an Indigenous art gallery at Ayers Rock Resort that exhibits works of its artists in residence from the Pitjantjatjara and Ngaanyatjarra lands. Here you can learn about local history through interactive displays, watch on as artists create on-site, and shop everything from art to bush medicine, soaps, and cosmetics.

Explore Curtin Springs & their paper-making tours

An hour's drive from Uluru lies Curtain Springs – a working outback cattle station where you can learn to hand-made your own paper from native grasses. Their one-hour tour offers a quick introduction to the process and different grasses - spinifex, oat grass, woollybutt, kangaroo, and kerosene. For a more in-depth experience, guests can opt for the two-day workshop where you’ll cut, pulp, and press the grass to create your own distinctive souvenir to take home.

Keep the journey going further in Australia's Northern Territory.

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