Amazing dinner experience at Ayers Rock Resort – Sounds of Silence

Waiting in the blistering heat outside Sails in the Desert Hotel, was never going to be a pleasant experience. With flies doggedly pursuing what little moisture they could obtain from your eyeballs, and the sun threatening ever-so-slightly to spontaneously combust you where you stand,we are thankfully ushered into the air conditioned foyer in the pleasant (albeit cheeky) company of the Sails porters. What madness would encourage one to participate in the temperature version of self-flagellation?

The Sounds……of silence.

A fancy bus arrives, the crowd begins to murmur and slowly shuffle forward (akin to a zombie apocalypse, but a teeny weeny bit less bitey) to be greeted at the bus by a smiling Taniesha. She efficiently ticks off names and welcomes all of the guests to what is promising to be quite the experience – a dinner in the desert underneath a canopy of stars. Quickly taking my seat, I “make it click” (because I’m a good kiwi) and we are on our way.

A short drive from the resort sees us head to a point that is cross between stupendous, perfectly placed and a little bit wonderful where we disembark from our superbly air-conditioned carriage into the tempest that is NT heat…..to find there is a slight trudge up a sandy dune. Trying to decide on whether I was Wills or Burke, I thanked my lack of social decorum which led me to wearing linen shorts (jeans would have had me praying to any deity that might listen, to provide me with a kilt and a breeze) and made my way up the dune, all to the dulcet tones of the didgeridoo (played superbly by either Dwayne or Dylan, you can almost feel the kangaroos they conjure with their woody, vocal intonation hopping up the sand beside you), but this is all blown away as you reach the summit of the dune.

Champagne chmanpagne, check out that view

Sure, the walk to the top of the dune is made that much sweet when you are greeted by one of the amazing outdoor dining team brandishing a tray of flute glasses. Easily balanced with the poise of an outback ballerina, the glasses are filled to the brim with an effervescent wine that definitely eases the heat…..but this all takes a backseat to the view that you can now witness.

Uluru, in all her splendour, lays before you. Hunkering on the horizon, like a sleeping giant waiting to pounce, she reminds you of how truly tiny and insignificant you are, even moreso as the bubbles from the champagne tickle your nose and you hiccup while trying to truly appreciate her magificence.

Turning to your right, you find yourself looking at a bar. I found that I was quite happy to neck my vino, take a couple of steps and ask for something a little more to my speed (some sort of craft beer) and stepped further to appreciate the music that is emanating from the didgeridoo…..this is before you catch site of what lays beyond the twilight entertainment.

Kata-Tjuta, rears its many heads, squat and bulbous in the distance, delicately enhanced by the sun swiftly setting on the horizon nearby. Such a stark contract to Uluru, I found myself trying to find my ideal spot on the dune where I could turn my head only slightly and witness each in turn.

You can call me whatever you want, just not late to dinner

We then head down to the dining area. Where a bunch of tables are awaiting us. Seating isn’t assigned as such and you have the opportunity to mingle with people from all walks of life, to discuss the views you’ve just been sharing, the score of the Broncos game in the weekend or whether the government is every going to pull its bloody finger out and open up borders for the world to all get to experience what we are seeing right now.

The booze is flowing freely by this point, ably assisted by the team of attendants catering to your every inebriated whim and as the sun sets on the horizon and the insects decide now is the time to piss off, tables are given the opportunity to step up to the plate….literally, grab a plate and fill it from the buffet.

The food available includes a variety of local items, with a bunch of ingredients you might not easily come across in your everyday supermarket.

The bush tucker inspired buffet includes such delectable items as barramundi with lemon myrtle cream, native dukkha crusted kangaroo, braised crocodile in a shaved vegetable and herb salad, lamb cutlets with blistered cherry tomatoes with bush tomato jus and decadent desserts such as desert lime cheesecake, warm apple and quandong apple crumble tarts, warm chocolate and wattleseed slice and pear/lemon myrtle tea cake.

Absolutely delicious is probably underselling it to be honest. I found both courses to be quite the flavour sensations.

The stars, they talk

One of the team steps up after the lights are slowly dimmed and then extinguished and proudly recites a poignant poem (I truly think they should whisper the final line to add a little drama to it, but you know me, I love a little bit of the flair and dramatic), we sit there enjoying this silence (the wind across the desert, the shuffling of desert creatures in the distance, the hiccup of the guests who have taken overindulgent advantage of the neverending glasses when suddenly, we are brought back to the moment with a loud greeting “PALYA”.

The startalker has arrived.

Whether it is Alex the Greek talker extraordinaire, Luke Skytalker or the famous Leon (from every tourism advertising campaign you might have seen for the NT), you are in for an absolute treat when it comes to this wee moment of glory. Wielding an amazing powerful laser pointer (I’m sure Luke made light sabre noises while waving his toward the heavens), we were treated to an education on all things astronomical – from Castor and Pollux in the constellation of Gemini to the dark emu. We are taught that the stars not only assisted with navigation (and are taught a number of ways to navigate using the stars), but also the the first nations people of Australia used the stars as a means of predicting what was happening in the world and would plan accordingly (whether to be hunting emu or collecting their eggs, whether to go fishing or to avoid the busy and aggressive shark season).

All in all, a fascinating event that couples fantastic food, with great service and wrapped in an industry leading, experiential bow.

Sounds of Silence
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