What It’s Really Like To Dine At Uluru’s Sounds Of Silence
Eating a meal while your head is spinning around and your eyes seem unable to focus on one incredible sight at a time should be a sick-making sensation, and yet somehow the experience of dining, and drinking, under the stars with the impressive lump of Uluru in the distance is entirely pleasant.
This incredible, out-of-restaurant event is held almost every night of the year out here in the burnt-red heart of Australia, and is known as the Sounds of Silence dinner.
The name is, I’m afraid, totally misleading, because rather than the solemn silence that seems appropriate to this ancient, resonant land, what you mainly hear are the words “Oh my GOD” and “Look! Look at that!”, with a few “oohs” and “amazings” thrown in.
What is mildly discombobulating about the first hour after you sit down at a beautifully laid table, with white tablecloths stark against red sand, is that you just don’t know where to look.
To your left, the setting sun is picking up and purpling down the huge and familiar face of Uluru. Turn your head further left and the moon is creeping over the horizon, bringing with it the first pinpricks of starlight. To your right, backlit and glowing ochre orange, are the domes of Kata Tjuta (formerly known as The Olgas and, interestingly, even taller than The Rock itself).
Swivel your now boggling head all the way to the right and you are confronted with a seemingly implausible explosion of sunset light – flaring oranges mixed with mauve and pink and duck-egg blue, with layer upon layer all the way up to more stars. So. Many. Stars.
It is impossible to know where to look, and not uncommon to feel that you are surely staring at some kind of green-screen movie magic rather than reality. The vista is just too rich.
The evening started at an even higher point, on a sand dune, with champagne and bush-food canapés (think crocodile and cheese tarts and kangaroo tartare on crackers), as both the sun and the extreme heat finally drop out for the day.
As you wind your way down to the hidden dining area – greeted by one and all with a gasp and a camera flash – you are welcomed by the sound of a didgeridoo, which seems appropriate, soulful and almost spooky out here.
By the time the soup is served (tomato with local saltbush) and your wine is chosen, you’re almost sated already by scenery. The endless courses – barramundi, lamb chops with a unique bush chilli sauce, crocodile coleslaw – that follow, however, verge on being too much to take, because you really want to try them all.
Before dessert is served, there is one more treat to come, as a local indigenous woman takes centre stage and finally hushes the crowd, before wielding what most surely is an illegal, or at least weapons-grade, laser pointer, on the sky above, pointing out constellations and planets, and accompanying them with both stories and star science.
The sky out here is, of course, powerfully perfect for stargazing, and there are even telescopes on hand for diners to gawk at the rings of Saturn and the craters of the moon.
The whole experience is borderline overwhelming, and entirely unforgettable, so much so that what you most hear from diners on your way back to the resort is chat about what good value for money it all was, even at a cost of $225 a head, a price that is almost, but not quite, enough to have your head spinning as well.
(All images: Sounds of Silence / supplied)
Published 03 October, 2019