Ayers Rock or Uluru is one of the most iconic natural landmarks of Australia. Situated in the Northern Territory in central Australia, the large sandstone rock formation is highly sacred to the Aborginal people, in the area. The rock itself stands at 348 metres high, 24 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower, with a total circumference of 9.4km. The Olgas or Kata Tjuta is the other major feature of the Ayers Rock National Park and it also a site of major cultural significance. The entire area is renowned as the spiritual heart of Australia.
As we flew over the national park the ‘redness’ of the land was what struck us immediately. The National Park is also known as ‘The Red Centre’ and rusty colour is due to iron minerals in the surface layer of the rock oxidising with the air.
I’m not superstitious, but magic was in the air and I felt as strong feeling of awe as rock came into our view. As we drove through the desert Mr Silver and I marvelled at the barren terrain that seemed so opposed to the lush mountain we’d just left but equally beautiful and breathtaking.
Our hotel at the Red Centre was the luxury all-inclusive Longitude 131. The level of service from the hotel was evident as soon as we landed. We found the hotel representative who immediately took our luggage and ushered us in to his air-conditioned van.
Once again when we arrived champagne was pressed into our hands and we were given our itinerary for our two-night stay. The champagne was Louis Roderer and we were told that there were bottles in the fridge at the bar and we could help ourselves at any time. They’d also bring one to our room if we wanted it. In fact we could help ourselves to anything at any time! High-end spirits, wines, fresh baked cookies…I was in 7th Heaven!! There was a cocktail list but if what you wanted wasn’t on there they’d make it for you!
The main hub of Longitude 131 is The Dune House which is where all drinking, dining and socialising takes place. The books, maps and artefacts that surround the Dune House give the hotel a pioneering feel and strategically placed telescopes allow you peer out at the panoramic scene.
Adjacent to the Dune House is the pool. Mr Silver enjoyed the pool during our stay but I found the desert heat too intense for sun bathing and preferred the air conditioned Dune House!
Best of all every single room has an uninterrupted view of of Uluru. You can see out but no one can see in…
Service at Longitude 131 is some of the best I’ve ever experienced in my life and absolutely nothing is too much trouble for them. Mr Silver and I had a fabulous experience in the hotel. On the first night we were taken into Kantju Gorge and watched the sunset while drinking sparkling wine and munching delicious canapes which was a really divine experience. Ayers Rock itself can appear to change colour and the sandstone adopts different hues of red, purple, orange, grey and yellow depending on the light and your proximity to the monolith.
Both nights we dined in The Dune House, where they serve a small a la carte menu of modern Australian cuisine. But, if what you want isn’t on the menu, they’ll make it for you! Obviously! The food was astounding, I’d never imagine such delicious and fresh fish in the middle of the desert. And of course, this was all accompanied by as much wine as we wanted and the gorgeous view of the rock. Here’s some of what we ate and drank both nights.
Longitude also offer a dining experience known as Table 131 where you dine under the stars to the sights and sounds of desert. Unfortunately, due to adverse weather they could not accommodate this experience, a big disappointment but obviously something that could not be helped.
In terms of exploring Ayers Rock, Longitude have you fully covered! Tours take place just before sunrise or at around 4pm, owing to heat, and what you see is spectacular. Longitude 131 furnish you with highly knowledgable guides to explain the natural history of the Kantju Gorge and the Walpa Gorge. If you’re brave you can climb it too!
After a two night stay we were so sad to leave Longitude 131, a magical place with outstanding service quite unlike any other I’d ever experienced.
So it was goodbye to the arid desert and hello to the lush landscape of the rainforest…