My alarm went off at 4:30 a.m., which is not the most ideal time for your alarm to go off. After I got out of the initial shock of being woken up from my deep sleep, I remembered what we were doing today, quickly jumped out of bed to get ready for the day, put on my already red-dusted walking shoes, and headed out the door.
Formerly known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is a 600-million-year-old sandstone rock formation standing over 1,000 feet tall (which is taller than the Eiffel Tower) in the middle of the Australian Outback
. It is a sacred area that has been used by Aboriginal Australians for thousands of years to hold sacred ceremonies and rites of passage. Since becoming a UNESCO World Heritage rite in 1987, regulations have been placed on Uluru as to preserve the national heritage and to stay respectful to the Anangu people. Even though this is a public monument, it is first and foremost a home and a site of spiritual significance to the people who were there first.
We hopped on a bus to make the 40-minute ride out of Yulara and into the desolateness (and darkness) of the Outback. We arrived and left the bus just minutes before the sunrise and walked to the viewing area of the trail. Uluru is at its most stunning during sunrise and sunset, when the light makes the rock’s red color really shine. We took the 10 minutes of peak redness for pictures, before we set out on our six-hour trek around the rock.
Many people would say, “Why would you want to do a 10-kilometer hike in the hot Australian Outback? Just look at it from the bus.” But doing this hike was something at the top of my bucket list. Sure, you can just look at it, but you won’t ever truly understand the history and stories that this huge rock holds. By doing this hike, we were able to get up close with the rock, see the ancient cave drawings, listen to the stories of how certain markings or formations came to be, and even touch certain parts of the cool, smooth sandstone.
One benefit of waking up so early is beating the heat. There were two options for the hike, one starting at 5 a.m., and one starting at 2 p.m. Luckily, we went with the early hike. Even as our hike was ending at 11 a.m., it had already reached 90 degrees and was only going to get hotter. We got back to the bus, sweating and sunburnt on our hands and the spots on our face that we missed with sunscreen. But triumphant that we had done something that we wanted to do for so long.