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Escape to Uluru

I had long heard about Uluru’s appeal,

the rugged beauty of the red Australia outback and the 600 million year old sacred rock revered by the Aboriginal people. The indigenous Australians believe the spirits of their ancestors and the Mimi Spirits, the creators of all, reside in this revered place. They have used its ‘dreaming trails’ for traditional ceremonies and rites of passage for over 10,000 years.

 

Longitude 131°, a collection of 16 posh tented pavilions provide an ideal sanctuary for ultimate immersion in this mystical locale. The enchanting resort, a member of Luxury Lodges of Australia (www.luxurylodgesofaustralia.com.au), situated on a secluded rust red sand dune close to the World Heritage Wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, offers unrivaled straight on views of the country’s best-known natural wonder, Uluru, known as Ayers Rock. This stunning oasis right at Australia’s spiritual heart, takes outback luxury to new heights.

 

The luxe pavilions with white canvas roofs, feature contemporary décor accented with colorful Aboriginal artifacts and art, floor to ceiling windows and lovely verandas for soaking up the desert’s serenity and solitude. Amenities include a lounge area, bar and terrace at central Dune House where guests loll, socialize and rock gaze against the backdrop of the unspoiled landscape. Spa Kinara with Indigenous treatments such as the Kodo massage, provides pure outback bliss.

 

Accommodations include the 2 bedroom Dune Pavilion which offers stupendous views of both Uluru and the equally sacred site of Kata Tjuta. Set on a private desert dune, the premium suite done in Australian homestead – chic and tricked out with stunning paintings by artists from nearby Indigenous communities includes large indoor and outdoor living spaces, plush beds with gorgeous throws, 2 oversize bathrooms, a huge deck with daybeds and a private pool.

 

A Powerful Experience
The Lodge offers a series of signature, guided excursions to explore this most spiritual land. I chose the base walk around Uluru, Australia’s most famous natural icon – more than 1,000 feet tall. As I passed acacia woodlands, dramatic crevices, watering holes and gorges, my guide related the legends of the sacred rock imparted by the Anangu, who still live here as they have for thousands of years. As the sun rose, its rays conjured a parade of faces, some distinctly Aboriginal, from the natural folds of the massive red sandstone monolith before me. To this day, no one can explain this phenomenon that attracts visitors from around the globe.

 

Continuing the journey I saw the rock came alive with hunters, spears, animals, birds and abstract symbols, each an expression of the ancient Anangu law. This is the place where Tjukurpa whispers the creation stories, my guide told me. Inexplicably, powerfully, I felt the earth’s DNA communicating to me through this glowing, shape-shifting mass. I was pulled into the dream. Some places here are so sacred, the guide tells you they can’t be photographed. That’s fitting. After all, how do you photograph a dream?

 

I witnessed the site of coming of age rituals for young boys, the sacred area for pregnant females, original cave paintings from olden times, and more. Getting up close to the mystical rock and watching its ever changing figures dance right before my eyes was intoxicating. Valley Of The Winds Walk at Kata Tjuta, a sacred Anangu men’s site with ancient domes as well as helicopter flights to visit the Indigenous Ernabella Community and camel rides in the desert are some of the many remarkable experiences Longitude 131° offers guests.

 

Sunset Drinks are an essential outback experience where guests marvel at the changing lights reflected over Uluru’s many faces as the sun descends under the horizon, cocktails and canapés in hand. And the cuisine is outstanding. Relish the freshest Australian produce paired with the country’s renowned wines at the Dune Top – a platform perched atop the red desert hill with bar, plunge pool and dining alcoves. Another option, Dine under the Stars at Table 131° offers al fresco dining with delectable local flavors. Post dinner, an astronomer decodes the southern night sky – the Southern Cross, signs of the Zodiac and Milky Way, sharing the meaning of stars and planets in Aboriginal creation stories that form part of an Aboriginal songline spanning the breadth of Australia.

 

Luxury Lodges of Australia features a diverse collection of the country’s top lodges and luxury camps offering bespoke high-end experiences tailored to sophisticated travelers. Each independently owned property has created signature activities that highlight the outstanding aspects of its region – its extraordinary landscape, culture, people and way of life. Between them, the lodges offer hundreds of experiences and partner with over fifteen hundred makers, guides, artists, producers and local characters to provide an authentic connection to place. They represent the very best of the distinct Australian style of luxury. Longitude 131° is part of their Baillie Lodges portfolio, alongside flagship property Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island and Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island. Southern Ocean Lodge had its highly anticipated opening last December following a complete rebuild, nearly four years after it was razed by bushfires. The new property is almost the same as the original, with 25 luxurious guest suites along the coastline, newly designed to take in more of the ocean and coastal wilderness views and with sublime cuisine. I can’t wait to return.

 

Virgin Australia (www.virginaustralia.com) provides outstanding service to major Australian cities, connecting in Los Angeles, and also domestically within the country. This includes direct service from Sydney to Ayers Rock. Business class offers top amenities, including spacious, lie-flat seats that make a big difference on long flights.
For more info on travel to Australia, visit www.australia.com

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