Uluru is the aboriginal name for Ayers Rock. Over a decade ago, the Australian
government gave back ownership of this area (and many square kilometers around) to the
tribes that still live in the bush around it. The aborigines permit tourists to visit
and (although they strongly prefer that they don't) to climb the rock.
We flew from Cairns to Alice Springs, a small town in the middle of the outback. Although this is the closest real town to Uluru, it still takes 5 hours to drive there (450 km). There are several towns shown on the map, but they are actually individual ranches or filling stations/diners.
We had some time to kill the evening we arrived in Alice Springs, so after dinner we went to the cinema to see "Shakespeare In Love".
The next day, we stopped to check out a group of meteor craters on the way to Uluru.
Several thousand years ago a meteor fractured into several large pieces (and many smaller
ones) and struck the ground. The aboriginal name for the area suggests that they witnessed
Uluru is the largest known monolith (single, unfractured piece of rock) in the world. Although it looks pretty impressive, most of it is still underground.
The aboriginals have several creation stories that describe what caused some of the features of the rock. We took a couple walking tours around it, reading the legends as we reached the appropriate spots.
One night, we signed up for a dinner in the desert. We were bussed out into the bush to
some tables set up in a clearing. We were served a delicious meal and told some local
legends (if the sky had been clear we would have had a short lesson on the stars).