It has been an extremely fascinating experience, certainly unlike any other place that I've visited. It is, after all, stuck right in the middle of a desert.
As I speak, I'm looking out the plane window and it's just red red sand, dirt roads and a surprisingly large sprinkling of greenery. But other than that, it's nothing. Which is pretty much what it was like being at Uluru.
I stayed at a resort, well, the one and only resort, situated about 20kms away from the big red rock itself. It is one of the most intriguing places that I've ever stayed in.
I had expected a town like any other town I've visited around the world. Maybe a little smaller, but not what I arrived to.
The town of Yulara, where the resort was, is without a doubt the epitome of commercialisation.
It is, I suppose, a town like any other. However, everything about the town basically revolves around tourism. There are five hotels of different "stars" there, ranging from a plush five star one to a campground.
There is also a town centre, with a restaurant and takeaway that sells exorbitantly priced meals (and only one vegetarian option which nearly drove me nuts), a news agents, a post office, a supermarket, a tour agency, a hair and beauty salon and a couple of other shops selling a range of touristy stuff.
Everything is within walking distance of each other and where there is no pavement, everything is red sand.
And besides Uluru and Kata-Tjuta (the less famous sister) looming in the distance, there is nothing else. Seriously, nothing.
The nearest town, Alice Springs, is about five hours drive away. Nothing else! Just...sand!
Oh, there is a fire station, a police station and while on the free shuttle bus that takes you around the town (which I take simply because it's just too hot to walk around even if it is in the middle of winter) one day, it took me to the staff living areas, and revealed also a child care centre, a primary school and the Yulara campus of James Cook University.
This place fascinates me.
- What are the lives of the staff like? Where do they shop - surely they don't buy the souvenir T-shirts and moisterisers and stuff for their daily usage? Do they really raise a family there? What do they do when they're bored? Drive five hours to Alice Springs to catch a movie and drive back? How do they live? Just how? Perhaps it baffles me because I'm such a city girl, and have no idea how can anyone live so isolated from civilisation, but really. I really wanted to grab a random staff and just ask them - how do you live????
- Why are both Uluru and Kata-Tjuta there? I mean, there's miles and miles of sand and flatness, as far as the eye can see, and suddenly, viola! There's Uluru, and about 40kms away, Kata-Tjuta. Fascinating enough that there's one big gigantic rock, but two in such close proximity? Why? How? Was God chuckling when he planted them there?
- Where are the Mutijulu people and how do they live? I went into the national park where the two gigantic, and I mean, GIGANTIC, rocks are and nowhere can I see any signs of life. Besides the hordes of tourists milling around of course. Where are the indigenous people? How do they live?
- Why in the world would people spend at least a thousand dollars to come see a big rock or two? Ok, it's big, but that is really all that you get to do. Ok, maybe you can sit by the pool for a while. Shop for a few minutes (that's all the shopping there is). After that, what? Count sand? But people still come. I'm not bagging Uluru. It's awesome and I'm glad I came, but I'm not sure if I would pay the expenses from out of my own pocket...
- Why is Uluru more famous?