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Awed By Uluru (PHOTOS)

Posted: 08/19/11 06:33 AM ET

Rising over a thousand feet straight up from the flat red desert of central Australia stands Uluru, a sandstone megalith that embodies the history, mystery and culture of the Outback. To see it first hand -- I can tell you-- is a spectacular treat.

The sun spends its day circling around this stately rock and from dawn to dusk Uluru seems to change color and texture. Humans lived close to the rock 10,000 years ago and tales have been passed from generation to generation about the sacredness of this place. The Aborigines request that no one climb this rock because it is sacred. Despite being an avid climber, I honored their request. After all, I wouldn't climb the Duomo: Doing so would be in terrible taste.

Fortunately, you do not have to climb it to get a personal look. Circling Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, in a helicopter at dusk is a must. The redness, the vastness, the shadows. Amazing.

You can also sit in the open desert and take in the 'Sounds of Silence' dining experience. Watch the sun set on the rock then the milky way emerge in full glory.

Uluru and the stony hills of Kata-Tjuta nearby are so much more than rocks in a desert. Uluru is the Australian constant: the north star brought to earth.

Uluru stands on the horizon
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