This year I had a significant birthday, and so I drew up a list of fifty dreams, ambitions and desires that I call THE 50/50 PROJECT (I guess that gives away what kind of significant birthday I endured!)
The list is not static - as I think of new things I badly want to do, I add it to the list (though this means I have to remove something else.)
However, right from the start I've had on my list:
SEE ULURU AT SUNSET
So my husband and I took a romantic weekend away in early November to visit Ulura in the Red Centre of Australia. We flew into the Ayers Rock Resort on Friday night and stayed at Longitude 131, which is right inside the national park. It's a row of fifteen glamorous 'tents' with amazing views of Uluru - you can watch the sunrise over the rock from your own bed.
Our first night there we were taken out to see the famous rock change colours as the sun goes down. It really is extraordinary - this huge monolith rising from the flat desert scrub, changing from brown to red to orange to violet as the stars begin to shine.
We then walked the Field of Stars art installation by the British artist Bruce Munro which was just magical:
(I didn't take this photo - it was too dark by the time we got there. This photo is by Mark Pickthall from AU ABROAD)
Then we had a magical dinner under the stars, while our guides from Longitude 131 told us stories of the stars spread out above us and we listened to a local play the didgeridoo. It was really magical.
Over the next few days we walked into the gorges of Kata Tjuta, and learnt from our guide the convulsive geographical events the led to the formation of Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and were told about many of the fascinating native plants and wild flowers growing in the desert.
We also walked around the base of Uluru, and heard some of the Dreamtime stories of the local Pitjantjatjara people - you can just imagine how much I loved that. I was particularly struck by how deeply embedded the stories were in the landscape. Many myths of the world have been unanchored from place, but the stories of the Pitjantjatjara are inspired by, and proven by, the unique rock outcrops and waterholes and flora and fauna of the area, and cannot be cut free of them.
We watched the sun set and the moon rise over the great orange mound of rock, and then returned for another delicious meal of local produce - including kangaroo.
It truly was an amazing experience and I am so glad we went. The lovely people at Longitude 131 looked after us so well, and I learnt so much.
And I'm happy to have crossed one more thing off my list of The 50/50 Project!
If you enjoyed this blog, you may like to read about how I sold a million books, won a major international literary award, stood under a waterfall, and visited Haworth Vicarage where the Brontes once lived.