Uluru. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but you wouldn't go for the food, right? Wrong. Where once this isolated community might have had issues accessing quality produce and chefs, in recent years it's undergone a culinary renaissance. There's a huge indigenous garden, passionate local staff and even a hospitality school-cum-cafe, The Kulata Academy Café, staffed by students from the National Indigenous Training Academy. So it's a surprising bonus to discover, along with all the beauty and wonder of the spiritual centre, that there's a hearty range of quality dining experiences too.
Here's our top five food experiences:
The kangaroo pate at Tali Wiru
Looking for the ultimate proposal spot? This life-affirming dining experience is it. Held on an isolated dune top overlooking Uluru and the distant domes of Kata Tjuta, it features a delicious, a la carte how-did-they-do-that-here menu (from a wonderfully light and complex kangaroo pate, to caviar to wagyu, to gruyere souffle) and five-star service, and is limited to a maximum of just 20 guests. Add to the bucket list now.
From $325pp, see ayersrockresort.com.au/experiences/detail/tali-wiru
Croc dog at Pioneer BBQ and Bar
So good ... and so "grammable"! This unique hot dog made with crocodile meat is probably better for you than the real thing, tastes pretty good – and you'll be bragging about it for weeks.
$13, with chips, see ayersrockresort.com.au/around-the-resort/dining-and-bars/restaurants-and-bars
Ty's brilliant Bush Tucker Bloody Mary at Walpa Bar
Mixologist Ty Bennett is passionate about two things: booze and native ingredients, a combination that works perfectly at this bar not far from from The Rock. This moreish Bloody Mary, for example, includes finger limes, juniper berries, pepperberry, spicy kangaroo and Davidson plum. Ignore the lobby surrounds and get him to twist your favourite cocktail into something more native, using ingredients from the huge bush garden out the back. You won't be disappointed.
At Sails Restaurant, $21. See ayersrockresort.com.au/around-the-resort/dining-and-bars/restaurants-and-bars
Damper at Desert Awakenings
Let's face it, damper is never really that appealing. Until you have it like this: as the sun rises, cooked perfectly by a wise Anangu man speaking softly about his ancestors. As you spread the golden syrup, the colours around you change dramatically, the desert comes alive and you realise you'll never have damper like it again. It's a spiritual experience you won't forget.
Free with tour, $173, see ayersrockresort.com.au/experiences/detail/desert-awakenings-tour
The Willy Wonka-esque chocolate fountain at Ilkari Restaurant
Sharpen the elbows, this is one food experience that's worth edging your way to the front of the queue. This huge, multi-tiered fountain of lush and glorious chocolaty goodness is part of the hotel restaurant's large buffet offering. There's the nominal matching of fruit on skewers to dip into it, but let's face it, you're going to get in touch with your inner kid and go straight for the sweets and, erm, more chocolate. Go on, why should the kids have all the fun?
Ilkari Restaurant, Sails resort. See ayersrockresort.com.au/around-the-resort/dining-and-bars/restaurants-and-bars