Uluru Sunrise

At 5:30am, and against every natural wish of my lazy lazy body, I got up in the cold Northern Territory desert pre-dawn to watch the sun rise over Uluru. I wore all the clothing I had with me; it reminded me of winter mornings in the UK. I was surprised how cold the desert was, despite knowing that deserts experience extremes of heat.

I made my cold and numb way through the silent campsite, in the dark, to the meeting point. I had opted to go on a tour, which is unlike me, but the price of a hire car and my lack of local knowledge made a tour a far more sensible option. Besides, driving around the bush on my own, in the pitch black, at this time in the morning struck me as an especially bad idea.

We were furnished with hot chocolate, tea, coffee and biscuits when we arrived at the sunrise viewing area and were very grateful. It was a short walk to the viewing platform and we made our way to it in the dark, guided only by tiny lights along the side of the pathway. A few more tours arrived but there was plenty of room. I spotted a few jealous looks aimed at my hot chocolate.

The Uluru sunrise view

We had arrived in the pitch black pre-morning and as the light increased slowly around us it became evident that the sunrise we were all looking forward to was going to be almost entirely obscured by cloud. Bugger. Still, ever the optimist at heart, I reassured myself with the thought that clouds often add interesting and dramatic effects to sunrises and sunsets. I waited hopefully and continued to take photos wondering if we’d even know if the sun had risen through all that cloud.

My sunrise view of Uluru

It’s Raining on the Rock

It started to rain. Our bus was a good five minute walk away and, being hopefully only minutes from sunrise, there was nothing for it but to get wet. I heard someone’s tour guide mention “You’re really lucky to see it raining on the rock, not many people do” I didn’t feel especially lucky. I was cold and wet and eagerly awaited sunrise (it could only get warmer!)

Nature doesn’t care

I would love to say the sunrise was spectacular but althought Uluru itself is spectacular, the sunrise I experienced was really just gradually lighter under all that grey cloud. It was incredible to see Uluru and to walk around the rock after sunrise, but I think more beautiful sunrises occur and I was just unlucky. I left Uluru cold, wet and wishing weather forecasts were more accurate. The harsh reality is that nature doesn’t care about my experience at Uluru and I accept that. I obviously just booked the sunrise tour on the wrong day as other people in the resort said it was great the next day. Grrrr! I wonder how the Sounds of Silence dinner went that evening…

Tips for visiting Uluru:

  • Definitely check the weather forecast before booking any tours and try to book your tour on a day where the weather looks reliably clear and not overcast (unless your choice would be for the cold, damp tour…)
  • Make sure you wear lots of layers – underestimating the desert cold is rubbish
  • Check whether or not your tour provides hot drinks. Don’t be the jealous person on a different tour!

Photo credit: Michael Boniwell


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