Uluru is more than a rock in the red centre of Australia. It is the country’s spiritual heart. Believed to be more than 700 million years old, it holds a powerful presence, that has to be seen to be believed – it was not until I jumped off the tour bus to bask in its giant shadow that I realised the true meaning of this. I felt an instant connection with this land, despite being first generation Australian born of Italian born parents, it is almost like Uluru has a maternal energy, one that holds on to you long after you leave and makes you feel like you are part of its long history, whatever your own origins.
Uluru represents many things to many Australians. The indigenous Australians believe the rock is a sacred place, much like a church, where for millions of years tribes gather to perform rituals even to today. Climbing Uluru is possible but discouraged for this reason. They believe the rock was formed during Dreamtime, and ancient carvings and paintings adorn the side of the rock, telling stories from more than 10,000 years ago.
My favourite experience at Uluru and what I believe is must-do is the Sounds of Silence dinner. Imagine eating canapés as the sun sets over the majestic Rock, and then walking along a walkway which expands to reveal your dining room for the night – a large open plain on the red desert, decked out with tables with white cloths – under the stars. Nothing can prepare you for what happens after your three course dinner – a buffet of Aussie delicacies including crocodile and kangaroo – your waiter blows out the candles that adorn each table and all of a sudden you are sitting in the desert, in the shadow of Uluru – with only the star light overhead. An astronomer then explains the many constellations complete with telescope for those that wish to see Saturn or other visible planets. A breathtaking and unique experience for every traveller.
Located in the Northern Territory, getting to Uluru is easy. Direct flights to Uluru operates from major cities around Australia – and the Ayers Rock Resort, holds a range of accommodation options, with free airport transfers from a camping ground to deluxe hotels. Activities around the resort include a Guided walk around the gardens with Indigenous guide through to frequent sunrise, sunset and day tours to Uluru.
So don’t delay – the spiritual centre of Australia awaits.
It is a small world thanks to the age of digital travel. I am not just talking about the rise of social media which has led to countless holiday snaps and status updates by your friends that you always seem to read as you lie on the couch on a Friday night eating pizza and discovering wayward chips from your couch. (Otherwise known as FOMO) The digital traveller is now armed to the teeth with gadgets and apps that can transform any overseas trip into its own multimedia publishing expedition, and has made it easier than ever before to keep in touch with family and friends back home.
I have not been overseas since 2005. (I am talking long haul flights so excluding New Zealand)
The way I see it there have been three major improvements to travel due to the digital age:
1. Smart phones allow even ET to phone home.
Whilst previously I would leave my phone at home to avoid racking up thousands of dollars in global roaming charges, this time I have a range of travel sims to choose from including Travel Sim, Back Chat and Woolworths Global Roaming. These sims work in most phones including iPhones and provide discounted call rates in more than 100 countries. A call to Audtralia from Europe can cost as little as 0.42 cents a minute compared to using global roaming at more than $3 a min.
2. Ipad and other tablets
If you have an Ipad or other tablet, bring it with you on your trip – it provides quick access to look up nearby accomodation or sights using the readily available free WiFi that exists in most destinations, and is also a handy way to back up photos taken from your camera. The Apple Ipad Camera Adapter provides an easy way to import photos from your digital camera to your Ipad. That way if you lose your camera or run out of space on your memory card, you can back up to the iPad and keep snapping away!
3. Apps to keep you organised and ready for travel
There are a range of packing apps around for iPhone and ipad.
UPackingList – there are tons of packing apps around but this has been the one I have used for domestic travel the last few years and has worked great – lists can be adapted and are sorted for you into Categories such as Health, Gadgets, Shoes etc
Trip Advisor Offline City Maps allows you to download before you go so you can use it offline when you are abroad, avoiding international data charges.
Traveling around Europe by train? Download the free Europe Rail iphone app to look up timetables and check out Eurail Pass discounts near you on the go, all offline.
Skype is an obvious choice – international phone cards are no longer needed if you are able to access WiFi at your destination, Skype gives you free calls to another Skype account.
Many airlines allow you to check in before you depart using their app. So check before you depart.
Expedia, Hotels.com and TripAdvisor Hotel apps allow you to search and book places to stay as you go – these require an internet/data connection though so make sure you are in a WiFi area (preferably a secure WiFi area to avoid hackers)
This infographic by MDG advertising highlights some of the ways travel has changed in the digital era.
For a small business to thrive online, customers need to be aware that you exist. You may have a company website with the right keywords, fresh content and all the SEO optimization present, but that will only get you so far.
As consumers, we want brands to come to us, we no longer need to visit a company website for company news, brands are on Facebook, and for the 11.7million Facebook users in Australia, the majority use Facebook to get news from their favourite brands.
Nowadays customers are not only doing all their holiday research and bookings online, but they also use referrals by friends in their social network as a way to determine which accommodation they choose. Include testimonials by past guests on your website and in your Facebook posts. Post updated photos of your holiday rental and surrounding areas, particularly in the summer months when you can show them off!
Holiday rentals are using Facebook Pages to stay in the minds of past and future guests. Post content about that local events such as markets or festivals and give special ‘Facebook only’ discounts during off peak periods.
By setting up a Facebook page for your small business you are also directing more traffic back to your website where customers can complete the transaction or find out more info.
How are you using Facebook to promote your holiday rental?