Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Glamping in Australia’s Red Centre: A Stay at Longitude 131

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One of the luxury tented accommodations at Longitude 131

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, has been on my list of places to visit for years. Last month I finally got my chance to visit Australia’s Red Centre, with a few nights at Longitude 131. With a reputation for being the finest accommodations in Outback glamping, Longitude 131 doesn’t come cheap. My husband and I tried to maximize our bang for the buck by staying one less than the recommended three nights/four full days, and attempting to see as much as we could during our time.


First glimpse of Uluru HyperLapse (shot on iPhone 6)

The cranked up pace was a bit too crammed for me. While I totally enjoyed my time, I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been so hurried. I also had a difficult time with jet lag on this trip, which did not help the situation.

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Some of the stunning scenery seen on excursions from Longitude 131

My hotel review posts usually feature lots of images of hotel room interiors and bathroom amenities, but photographing the room did not happen during my brief stay at Longitude 131.

Fortunately Longitude 131’s own website photos are very realistic. The tents are glamorous and comfortable, but we did not spend much time there other than to sleep or change clothes. The bulk of your day at Longitude 131 is spent exploring nearby Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which was the point of the whole trip anyway!

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My first glimpse of Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock

We had about 35 minutes from the time we arrived at the Longitude 131 until we headed out for our first excursion, the Mala Walk around the base of Uluru,  followed by a sundowner and light bites in the Kantu Gorge.

The guides at Longitude 131 are friendly and great and I felt that I learned a ton on this excursion. The couple I met from Sydney who were staying the recommended three days seemed more relaxed than I was (and less jet lagged).

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Left: sunrise at a viewing area in Kata Tjuta National Park Right: My room at Longitude 131

Both my husband and I were tired when we returned from this excursion, so we skipped the formal dinner service and headed straight to our tent.

I fell asleep immediately and woke up in time for a quick bite before heading out for our next excursion, headed to a sunrise view point in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The Kata Tjuta range (also known as the Olgas) domes are visually interesting, and the sky and scrubby landscape looked gorgeous in the soft morning light.

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Gorgeous desert landscape and clouds at Kata Tjuta

After admiring the sunrise at Kata Tjutas we headed out on the lovely Valley of Winds hike , which can range 6-10 km around a sacred Anangu men’s site in the domes of Kata Tjuta. We finished our hike just before the day got too hot. The only thing missing was a cold beer before we headed  to the Cultural Centre in the park for a visit. Then we got back to Longitude 131 in time for lunch.

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A view of the Kata Tjutas at sunrise

Our day finished with the Uluru sunset excursion (again complete with cocktails and nibbles). It was a delightful day. Dinner that evening was served at outdoors under the star filled skies at Table 131 set up outside. Once again, jet lag made me decide to skip the main course and get as much sleep as I could.

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A vibrant sunset view of Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Your days are paced similarly to those on safari at Longitude 131– most activities happen around sunrise and sunset leaving the hottest hours in the middle of the day free for you to enjoy the resorts lovely pool, the nearby Cultural Centre in the park or even arrange a camel ride or motorcycle ride. Unlike being on safari, you come to Longitude 131 for the landscape and outdoor activities, not for the wildlife. You might see some wild camels or feral cats, but this is not the place for those who want a game viewing experience.

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Yummy steak for lunch at Longitude 131

All the food and beverages at Longitude 131 were excellent.

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Left: Pasta with shrimp for lunch Right: a colorful salad with edible flower at Longitude 131

While I did not eat every dinner I was totally satisfied by the appetizers served during the sundown excursions and did not feel I needed much more.

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 Glacial toothfish and broccolini for lunch at Longitude 131

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A stunning sunset view of  Longitude 131 Resort

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Rainbows in the bathroom at Longitude 131

My Longitude 131 experience was very good. I made the decision to do a shorter, more concentrated trip and I’m not sure I’d recommend that unless you are 100% over jet lag or the sort of person who loves having every minute scheduled.

I was impressed with my experience enough that I am now curious about other Baillie Lodges and am considering a visit to Kangaroo Island on my next trip down under.

Longitude 131

Yulara Drive,
Yulara Northern Territory 0872,  Australia
Tel: +61 08 8957 7131
Fax: +61 08 8957 7130

Luxury tent rate is $1,200 AUD per person, per night including all dining, open bar with premium wines and spirits, in-suite bar, signature experiences, and return Ayers Rock Airport transfers.
My trip was booked through Suzy Xiu at SmartFlyer.

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Australia’s Red Centre As Seen From a Helicopter Ride over Uluru

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If you want a bird’s eye view of Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) Helicopter is your best bet 

During my recent visit to Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia’s Red Centre, it was incredibly clear that the one thing you shouldn’t do is climb Ayer’s Rock. Fortunately Longitude 131 offers scenic helicopter tours as part of it’s menu of “Bespoke Experiences.”

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My pilot and the R44 Raven II helicopter

The ride in the R44 Raven II helicopter was smooth. I liked this little helicopter!

Taking off from Longitude 131 in a helicopter for my scenic ride

The photographer in me always likes to get shots from different vantage points, so I booked the 30 minute scenic flight over Uluru & Kata Tjuta to Ayers Rock Airport instead of taking the car transfer. I’m glad I did. The bird’s eye view from the R44 Raven II helicopter gave me a great perspective of the vastness of the desert and stunning views of Uluru and the 36 domes (not all visible by ground) of the Kata Tjuta range (formerly known as the Olgas).

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A nice view of Uluru from a helicopter

 The helicopter ride was smooth and 30 minutes long and took me over both Uluru as well as the Kata Tjuta ranges before heading to the Ayers Rock Airport.

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Approaching Ayer’s Rock Airport

Seeing the scrubby dotted landscape below also made me appreciate the tribal prints of the native Aboriginal people, the Anangu. You can buy their prints at the cultural center.

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Different domes of the Kata Tjutas are visible from the ground

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Left: Approaching Uluru Right: Uluru/Ayers Rock is more solid than nearby Kata Tjuta

I shot some video on my iPhone 6 during my helicopter ride. Check it out:

 Flying over Uluru (Ayers Rock) in a R44 Raven II helicopter

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A view of The Kata Tjutas (formerly known as The Olgas) as seen from helicopter

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The domes of Kata Tjuta are visually more interesting that Uluru

While I went to Longitude 131 intent on seeing Uluru, The Kata Tjutas were far more visually interesting for me.

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Obligatory helicopter selfie

The 30 minute scenic helicopter ride over Uluru and Kata Tjuta from Longitude 131 to Ayers Rock Airport costs Australian $570 for two people and can be arranged directly from the resort. It’s great for both photographers and aviation geeks. Since I am both, to me it was totally worth the money.

Longitude 131

Yulara Drive,
Yulara Northern Territory 0872,  Australia
Tel: +61 08 8957 7131
Fax: +61 08 8957 7130

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Outback Cloud Lapse Video from Kantu Gorge: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia

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Colors in the Kantju Gorge in Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park at sunset

Almost as soon as I arrived  in the Australian Outback at Longitude 131, it was time to head to Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) to take the Mala Walk around the base of the sacred rock. We hiked around the base and explored a few caves and wound up in Kantju Gorge just in time to watch the sunset, when the color of the rock was most vivid and changed every few minutes.

#shotoniPhone6 Time-Lapse Video from Kantu Gorge, Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) 

The crew from Longitude 131 met us in the gorge with small bites and beverages so we could enjoy a sundowner while watching the colors shift during sunset at Uluru.

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The view from one of the aboriginal caves along the Mala Walk 

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The colors shifted every few minutes

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Looking straight up at Australia’s biggest Rock Star

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What Not to Do at Uluru: don’t walk on the rock

Although many tourists come to Ayers Rock intent on bragging rights about climbing it, it’s really not cool to do so. Uluru is considered sacred by it’s aboriginal owners, the Anangu. There are signs everywhere making it very clear that they would prefer you NOT climb the 1.6 kilometer path up the rock.

The steep climb is also very dangerous and several climbers have died. The Anangu people have been known to attend the funerals of climbers who have died. The narrow path is often closed due to high winds. If you want to see the view from the top, take a scenic helicopter tour instead.

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I asked my husband to be a makeshift tripod when filming a cloud hyperlapse. 

Pro tip: if you’re going to use your husband as your photo assistant and ask him to hold still while you shoot a hyperlapse on his iPhone 6, it’s best to get him a cocktail first.

Longitude 131

Yulara Drive,
Yulara Northern Territory 0872,  Australia
Tel: +61 08 8957 7131
Fax: +61 08 8957 7130

Luxury tent rate is $1,200 AUD per person, per night including all dining, open bar with premium wines and spirits, in-suite bar, signature experiences and return Ayers Rock Airport transfers.

 

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Sydney’s Best Coastal Walks: From Bondi To Bronte Beach

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Some of the spectacular scenery along the coastal walk from Bondi to Bronte Beach 

If you’re looking for one of the best things to do in Sydney, Australia, try walking along the coast from Bondi to Bronte Beach.

Bondi Beach waves video (shot on iPhone 6)

The  easy 6 kilometer round trip walk runs along a well marked path and passes craggy cliffs, coves filled with surfers and sweeping crescents of sand where you can watch sunbathers and beach volleyball.

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A tidal pool near Tamarama Beach

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Left: the worn cliffs along the coastal walk Right: a seagull takes in views

Past Bondi is Tamarama Beach, also known as “Glamarama” due to the attractive locals who flock there to surf. It has strong riptides and isn’t ideal for swimmers. But it’s great if you want to watch the surfers chase some tasty waves.

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A surfer starts his day at Tamarama Beach

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 Watching the surfers at Tamarama Beach

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A surfer near Tamarama

There are also quite a few point along the rocky cliffs between Bondi Beach and Bronte beach to sit down and enjoy the scenery. Many a selfies has been taken here.

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Some scenic points along the coast on the Bondi to Bronte walk

Several people seemed to enjoy finding a quiet spot on the cliffs to read, write, and take pictures.

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I can think of worse places to journal

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Brown rocks, waves and blue water make for an interesting layering of textures

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The rocks and waves can be hypnotic to watch

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The dramatic cliffs make this walk ideal to take photos

The scenery along the Bondi to Bronte Coastal walk is quite a stunning backdrop. There are a few staircases along the way, which make for good photos.

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A touch of green along the coastal walk near Bronte Beach

 The walk is easy, save for a few staircases. I’d suggest stopping by restaurant of the moment Bondi Hardware for a bite and a craft cocktail after taking this walk. They have far better food than Icebergs.

More info here: Bondi to Bronte 

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Sydney Harbour Sunrise Time Lapse Videos from The Park Hyatt

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Cloudy morning view from the Park Hyatt Sydney, looking towards the Opera House

Traveling to Australia, where it’s currently the middle of winter, during what is one of the longest weeks of daylight in the USA is really strange. While Sydney’s weather is temperate year round, winter’s shorter days can be kind of cloudy and rainy. Much like Los Angeles (during a non-drought year), it’s pleasant, but not the stuff postcard views are made of.

The Park Hyatt Sydney has amazing views of both the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the iconic Sydney Opera House. My room, an Opera King, had two small balconies overlooking the Opera House. I shot one time lapse from each of the room’s balconies.

Sydney Harbour awakens at Sunrise  (iPhoneonly video)

The moody winter clouds made for some dramatic, if not particularly colorful skies. I love watching the color temperature shift as the sun rose. I also like how this video has the jogging path in the foreground for some additional interest on the ground. Both time lapse videos in this post were shot using the native camera on my iPhone 6.

I travel with a portable clamp called an In Your Face Viewbase which I use as tripod. It’s small enough that it fits into my bag or purse and is easy to travel with. It works as a tripod if you can clamp it to something.

Winter Sydney Sunrise overlooking the Opera House

The second morning there was a little more action on Sydney Harbour, so while the colors still don’t massively pop, the boats are fun to watch. I can’t resist shooting time lapse videos wherever I’m staying here. It’s so much fun watching Sydney Harbour come to life in the morning, even if the weather isn’t the greatest.

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Enjoying a flat white on a winter morning at the Park Hyatt Sydney

My favorite Sydney time lapse video I’ve shot from this location was shot in October 2013, when the weather was better and my room was a floor lower. It’s located in this previous post.

7 Hickson Road, The Rocks
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2000

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