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Posts from November, 2011

Exploring the Dreaming Rock: The 5 Best Things to Do at Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia

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Uluru To the aborigines of the wild and desolate Australian outback, Uluru is a sacred and mystical site. To travellers from around the world, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a thing of wonder and mystery. Uluru is one of Australia’s most distinctive landmarks. The giant red rock rises out of the land like the sun rises above the horizon, inspiring photographers, painters and nature-lovers with its exquisiteness. When I first gazed upon the Dreaming rock, I was astounded by the natural beauty and spiritual energy vibrating through the air.

Uluru towers above the earth, reaching 318m at its highest points. It is made of arkrose sandstone and is 8km in circumference. It is considered an inselberg, which literally means “island mountain” and stands along with the nearby Kata Tjuta formation as the only two testaments to the evolution of the earth in an otherwise flat landscape. Archaeological findings suggest that humans first settled in the area around Uluru approximately 10,000 years ago. Europeans first explored the area in 1872 when Ernest Giles first mapped Uluru and named it Ayers Rock.

The Anangu, the aboriginal people who have lived near the formation for hundreds of years, consider Uluru a sacred dreaming site. The Dreamtime was when the great spirits created everything upon the earth. The concept of ‘Dreaming’ can refer to several things; it can be an individual’s spirituality, such as when a man or woman says they are part of Kangaroo Dreaming or Dingo Dreaming. ‘Dreaming’ is also the place where each person’s spirit lives eternally. The aborigines believe that every spirit existed before its time on earth in the Dreaming and that it continues to exist after the death of the body. The Dreaming pervades every aspect of an aboriginal Australian’s life. It is a complex and unique network of stories, faith, knowledge and practices. The aborigines believe that there is a hollow space beneath Uluru that houses Tjukurpa, the Dreamtime.

1) Discover the Legends surrounding Uluru- Visit the Museum

In order to visit Uluru, visitors must buy passes to enter the park. These can be purchased through our Uluru Pass. Once you have entered the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, it is best to begin your adventure by visiting the cultural centre located near Uluru’s base. Not only does the centre have an extensive list of all of the activities happening in the park but also introduces you to the culture of the Anangu. The centre presents material relating to traditional culture and park history. The entrance to the cultural centre tells the story of the Anangu people and the various aboriginal beliefs and stories that involve Uluru. There is also an art centre in the vicinity that sells incredibly intricate aboriginal art. It’s nearly impossible to resist buying the incredible pieces they have in the store (I bought a hand-woven aboriginal pillow cover that reminds me of Uluru every time I sit down on my couch). Uluru

2) See Uluru from Every Angle

When you see Uluru, you realize why the aborigines believe it to be the centre of their spiritual existence. The sheer size of it is enough to inspire awe in anyone. The colour of it reminds me of the embers of a fire; the oranges and reds seem to intensify as the sun moves on its path through the day. To really experience the majesty of Uluru, you need to get up close and personal with the giant monolith. Our Uluru Pass, besides getting you into the park, also includes several walking tours. Visitors to the park can walk around the entire base of Uluru, while also witnessing the flora and fauna of the beautiful Outback. Keep a sharp eye out for Malu (red kangaroos) and echidnas as they are not found anywhere else in the world outside of Australia. Explorers and adventures can also discover the rugged beauty of the Kata Tjuta formation. Kata Tjuta is close to Uluru and with its deep gorges, unique rock colouring and exotic flora it is not a destination to be missed.

3) Experience Night-time in the Outback

A night in Uluru There is nothing like the outback after the sun has gone down. Stars blaze brightly above, the air gets cool and refreshing and if you listen closely, you may hear the lonely sound of a dingo’s far-off howl. Star gazers and romantics will find the Sounds of Silence Dinner particularly entrancing. Diners get to sample real bush tucker, including kangaroo, emu and barramundi, and sip on champagne as the sun sets on Uluru. After the delicious dinner experience, explore the heavenly stars above with an experienced Star Talker who will walk with you through the net of constellations hanging in the sky. Night in the Red Centre is an otherworldly experience; my friends and I felt as if we had travelled through the mists of time back to a primordial land.

4) Take to the Skies above the Red Centre

The Anangu consider Uluru to be one of their most sacred sites. When tourism began in Uluru, they were dismayed to witness visitors climbing up and down Uluru’s lofted peaks. Today, the local indigenous community requests that visitors do not climb Uluru. The path that leads to the top of the monolith crosses a sacred dreaming path, a fact that has caused the traditional owners of the rock much anguish. Though the path is still accessible, it has become smooth over the years from visitors’ feet and the path remains closed for most of the year. Those who wish to see what Uluru looks like from above but desire to respect the wishes of the Anangu will delight in a breath-taking Helicopter ride over Uluru and Kata Tjuta. If you choose to see the formations this way, you will witness some of the most awe-inspiring views Australia has to offer.

5) Experience the Bushman Lifestyle

A trip to the outback is not complete without experiencing the bushman’s lifestyle. Bushmen are the wild cowboys of the outback; they drive cattle, work farms and sheer sheep on a farm circuit they call the Wallaby Track. Needless to say, Bushmen are a fiery bunch (think Hugh Jackman’s rough and tough portrayal of a drover in the blockbuster Australia). Bushmen, after a long day’s work droving cattle, often sit around the campfire telling stories and eating bush tucker. You too can experience this sort of lifestyle, albeit in a slightly more comfortable way, by setting off on the Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon 3 days camping safari. Campers will explore Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon over the course of three days, with two nights lodging in the permanent campsites at Uluru and Kings Canyon that boast off-the-ground beds and a hearty supply of bush tucker.

The Outback

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Paris: Family Edition

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Traveling with your entire family can create some of the best memories, but it can also come with the stress of pleasing all family members.  Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of activities in Paris that are perfect for families, so you know it’ll be a good Parisian time for everybody.

Disneyland Paris

Disneyland Paris

Being just 20 miles outside of Paris and easily accessible by any form of transportation, nothing says “family” more than Disneyland.  Not only is this the only Disney theme park in all of Europe, but this park comes with more than enough perks to please the whole family.
Your first reason to breathe a sigh of relief?  Since Disney has everything you could want in two adjacent and easily accessible parks, that means you don’t have to struggle to get the whole family to multiple places in one day.  Second, FastPasses are a great option to skip the queues so the kids don’t get restless.  Finally, it’s guaranteed fun for the whole family, whether you’re five or fifty, you can’t deny that you’re never too old for the magic of Disney.

Aquarium de Paris (CinéAqua)

Another good family option, the Aquarium de Paris is located in the heart of Paris, right across from the Eiffel Tower.  Located underground, the aquarium is newly renovated so  now there’s more than ever for your family to do.

With 40 tanks filled with thousands of different seawater species, children and adults will both find themselves in awe of the beautiful aqua-life, or even a little scared in the shark tunnel. CinéAqua Learning is always an opportunity, but the kids will actually be eager this time as there are both documentaries and animated cartoons teaching viewers about this completely different world.  Of course being interactive is almost a necessity for family fun, and with touch pools, feeding sessions, and lots of live entertainment, the Aquarium de Paris is the perfect way for your family to experience Paris’ more unique version of museums.

Asterix Park

Let’s face it, amusement parks are inescapable if you’re looking for good, old fashioned family fun.  Kids are running from ride to ride, and parents play the carnival games so their children can win the giant stuffed animal.  A huge park with rides, candy, games, and entertainment is the perfect day. Asterix Park If Disneyland Paris is too mainstream for you, try Paris’ very own Asterix Park.  Completely unique to Paris, this park offers 5 different ancient worlds to discover, from the Gauls to the Roman Empire, there won’t be a shortage of activities for anybody in the family.  If you’re not a huge fan of roller coasters, fear not because there’s also tons of live shows and interactive games for some friendly competition!

Luxembourg Gardens

If you want a truly Parisian experience with the whole family, Luxembourg Gardens is the perfect place to spend the day.  With tons of statues, flower gardens, and fountains, Luxembourg is commonly seen as a romantic place.
Luxembourg Gardens Yet there is a vintagecarousel, puppet shows, ponies, and a lake for model sail boats, so kids will be just as entertained as adults will be relaxed.  In addition, there’s free musical performances!  So if you’re looking for that specifically French experience, what matches it more than Parisian gardens with the family?

Museum of Magic

I guarantee you that this is the type of museum the kids can get on board with.  This low-key, underground museum has a quirky vibe and doesn’t need tons of prestigious paintings or sculptures to hold your attention.

Museum of Magic

Instead, both parents and kids will be intrigued by the 30 minute magic show, optical illusions, and hands-on interactive games that play with your mind. There’s also a dedication to the history of magic and how it has progressed, but don’t think they’re about to give away all their secrets!  I should mention that both the show and the rest of the museum are in french, but don’t worry if you aren’t fluent, magic knows no language and the pure enchantment and mysteriousness that lies in this museum is well worth the visit.

So enjoy your next family vacation to the fullest!

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