Nothing can quite describe the feeling of being mid-way through a delicious a la carte meal with matched wines to suddenly have all the lights turned off and sound turned down to reveal that you had been dining under a canopy of stars so majestic it stops all your thoughts in their track.
The sheer fact that you can eat a meal worthy of any hatted restaurant in the big cities but be in the very heart of Australia’s Red Centre is in itself a miraculous feat. That you are within sight of Uluru and have the Milky Way as your theming puts it on another level altogether.
This year, Australia’s first under-the-stars dining experience, the Sounds of Silence, is celebrating an unbroken 25 years of operation.
The experience has remained largely unchanged throughout the last quarter of a century. Guests still arrive to the sound of the didgeridoo and enjoy sparkling wine and canapes while viewing sunset over Uluru and Kata Tjuta. A star talk during dinner brings the night sky to life and telescopes are available for closer viewing.
Not forgetting the menu, which has been revamped with a focus on including even more native Australian ingredients featured throughout the many dishes on offer.
You can even take the gastronomic experience up a notch with the premium Tali Wiru and Mayu Wiru dinners which are limited to just 20 people per night. Other extensions of the Sounds of Silence experience include the Night at Field of Light dining experience which includes a walk-though of UK artist Bruce Monroe’s Field of Light installation following dinner.
“Sounds of Silence has been a key element to the Uluru experience for hundreds of thousands of guests to Ayers Rock Resort over the last 25 years,” says Ray Stone, Voyages executive GM sales, marketing and distribution.
“Sounds of Silence has always been a celebration of the true essence of the Australian outback, which is no doubt why it has been successful for so many years,” said Ray.
Tali Wiru runs daily until October 15, while Sounds of Silence runs all year round.
Let there be light
Having opened in 2016, Bruce Munro’s Field of Light has proven to be such a drawcard it has been extended until December 31, 2020. The solar powered installation features 50,000 stems covering an area of over 49,000 square metres (the size of nine football pitches). The stems light up as the sun sets to create an ever changing backdrop that can be viewed after sunset or before sunrise.
A frequent visitor to Uluru, the idea for the installation began as a simple drawing in his sketchbook in 1992. Since opening in 2016, more than 200,000 guests have experienced Field of Light Uluru to date.
“The Field of Light represents the convergence of the land and culture and my own re-learning,” says Munro. “This iteration is inspired by culture in its structure and form; a graphic description of all the thoughts and ideas of my own journey. The concept of time is important as Uluru is inextricably linked to a significant past, present and future. The natural pathways created by the artwork will draw viewers into the installation: my past, our present, Uluru’s timeless future.”
Munro also recently unveiled another installation, albeit on a smaller scale, in the lobby of Sails in the Desert. Light Shower is a sculptural cascading art work consisting of delicate shimmering points of light.
Ayers Rock Resort has wide range of accommodation on offer from super luxe glamping at Longitude 131° to bring your own tent camping. One of the most popular options for corporate meetings and incentive groups is the Sails in the Desert hotel, which offers 228 five-star rooms and suites set among beautiful gumtrees and native shrubs. There is also a swimming pool and a diversity of modern dining, bar and lounge options including the brasserie-style Ilkari Restaurant or the Walpa Lobby Bar.
The Uluru Meeting Place is the resort’s conference complex and comprises of two main conference rooms; the refurbished Wanari Room and the new flagship meeting space Tjungu Ballroom. The rooms are divided by a light-filled pre-function area and features a welcoming break-out lawn at the front. With a maximum capacity of 420 guests in theatre style, space for up to 30 booths in exhibition layout, the ability to be divided into two rooms, vehicle access and a built-in projector, there isn’t much that can’t be done here. Located within the Sails in the Desert Hotel are three new break-out rooms and a function space that lends itself to smaller meetings and transforms into a very appealing area for evening functions.
There is no better way to absorb the desert landscape with Uluru and Kata Tjuta as a stunning backdrop than on board the camel train. Uluru Camel Tours are the largest camel farm in Australia, home to over 60 beautiful camels, all with their own names and personalities. Surprisingly comfortable, let the camel take the strain as it ambles across the sand dunes with some very chatty and informative camel train leaders. And be prepared for plenty of camel jokes, so don’t get the hump if you camel have a laugh.