There’s a moment when you first see Uluru up close and you realise there’s so much more to the rock than you really understood before. It’s one thing to see pictures and to have people tell you how incredibly beautiful and spiritual it is, but it’s another thing to see and feel that for yourself.
The first time I saw Uluru from a distance, as I stepped off the inaugural Jetstar flight from Melbourne to Ayers Rock*, I felt my heart skip a beat. The first time I was close enough to see its caves and crevices and true colours I felt a surge of love and felt tears in my eyes. I also felt the wind in my hair, and the power of a Heritage Softail Harley Davidson beneath me. Which isn’t quite how I’d originally imagined it.
As one of those Australians who is guilty of seeing the Grand Canyon, Colosseum, Acropolis, and many of the world’s other famous landmarks before making it to Uluru, I’ll admit I took it for granted that one day I would get there. And when I thought of that day it didn’t involve being suited up in leathers and sitting on the back of a classic motorcycle. But oh, this is one experience I was happy to be surprised by.
Rather than driving up to Uluru in a bus or a car and looking through a window as it drew closer, I was on sensory overload, amongst the elements with adrenalin coursing through my veins as the rock loomed larger. Then after we reached Uluru things just kept getting better as we did a full lap around the base, seeing sides I had never seen before.
Considering how blown away I was by it all, it’s for the best that I wasn’t actually in control of this Harley, but was instead merely sitting on the back, holding on and taking it all in. No need to keep my eyes on the road when all they wanted to do was look at the incredible shapes and shadows that were unfolding alongside me.
My rider was one of four from Uluru Motorcycle Tours who had come to pick a little group of us up from Sails in the Desert at Voyages Ayers Rock Resort that morning. There are ten different bike tours on offer, including sunrise and sunset rides around Uluru and Kata Tjuta (aka Ayers Rock and The Olgas), trips to viewing platforms and perfect photo opportunities, and half-day excursions to a range of top spots.
The bikes can collect people from all of the hotel and resort options around the area and I don’t think I’m the only one who felt a surge of excitement at the sight of a Harley waiting in the driveway to take me on an adventure.
The rides range from $99 for a 30km quick spin to $429 for a 150km, four and a half hour experience with stops along the way and champagne while watching the sunset change the colours of Uluru.
The guys provide the helmets, protective leather jackets and gloves, which came in particularly handy on our winter in the desert ride. And you can either hop on the back of one of their bikes by yourself or share the experience with up to six friends. Each on their own bike of course.
As well as the four Harleys, they do have an Oz Trike three wheeler option, which allows two or three people (up to 195kg combined) to sit together on a bench behind the driver. The trikes can do the same tours but understandably cost more and range from $189 to $849.
And to answer the question from those bike lovers who are champing at the bit to be in control, sadly the company is no longer able to offer self-rides so you do have to sit on the back. But all the better for just being able to take in the view without watching out for kangaroos or wild camels in your path.
While it would still be wonderful to do one of the tours solo with a rider, I did love hitting the road with a little gang. As our riders took turns taking the lead we got to smile and wave to each other, which only added to the fun.
We also managed to snap a few photos of each other on the bikes. The ones of me under the dark helmet with the wind in my red hair come from the extremely talented and lovely photographer in our group Melissa Findley. If you want to see some beautiful photos make sure you head her website and Instagram’s way.
I never wanted it to end, but eventually you have to admit it’s time to hand over the leather jacket to the next lucky rider. And fortunately I was able to take all of that adrenalin and use it well with a walk around the rock where I was able to gaze up at Uluru in silence and have a different kind of experience.
People used to say that if the wind changed your face could be stuck in an expression. If that little saying had come true that morning I would still be grinning like a loon. A grinning loon with tears of joy in her eyes. It might frighten some people but I could probably live like that.
Amanda Woods travelled to Uluru on Jetstar’s inaugural Melbourne to Ayers Rock flight. Jetstar now flies four times a week from Melbourne, and daily from Sydney. She stayed as a guest of Voyages Ayers Rock Resort and NT Tourism but as usual all thoughts and opinions remain her own.
To book your own Harley Davidson adventure at Uluru, contact Uluru Motorcycle Tours.
* For those wondering, as Amanda was, why Jetstar’s flights say they go to Ayers Rock rather than to Uluru it is because that is what the airport is called. Amanda prefers to call the rock Uluru, and also respects traditional owners’ wishes not to climb the rock.