Threading your way through the night to watch the sun rise over Ayers Rock (or Uluru in Australia) : this is the big one! This is the emblematic event of a trip to the outback. The Rock, whose mystical pull is palpable even from a distance, is a sacred place for the Aborigines and there are signs politely asking people not to climb it. But there they go in serried ranks: this, and my inveterate vertigo, allows me to excuse myself.
Visit Ayers Rock in Australia : a better option is a trip to the Anangu Cultural Centre, a snake-like building of mud and wood. Two Anangu guides take us for a trek into the bush. Tiku, one of the guides, giggles as she sees white men struggle with the spear and says, ‘Nowadays we use rifles!’ An apt encapsulation of a clash of two cultures. The Anangu, whose society is unchanged since prehistoric times, have collided with a civilisation which talks about the end of history. They can’t understand why we want to watch them light fires with sticks when there are cigarette lighters.
After this thought-provoking interlude, the best way to blow the cobwebs away is to ride a Harley-Davidson back to the resort. Ayers Rock Tours will zoom you round the Rock and back to your hotel in an exhilarating 30 minutes. Their youngest passenger to date is four and the oldest was 96!