A sanctuary is a place where people go to find comfort and safety. It’s a place that allows you to feel at home in an unknown space. Vatu Sanctuary is exactly that. Located in the heart of Australia’s Red Center, 1500 km away from the coast, it is easy to feel isolated. Heck, you are isolated. Vatu Sanctuary, however, is that little bit of paradise within Australia’s desert.
Alice Springs is, for most travelers, the quick stop en-route to one of Australia’s most popular destinations: Uluru. Fortunately, I had a very different experience.
Vatu Sanctuary redefined my experience of Alice Springs from being a quick stop before a great experience to being a great experience in itself. Vatu marked the beginning and the end of an incredible journey of art, creativity, history, spirituality, mythology and wonder.
At arrival, the high colorful gates of Vatu Sanctuary can’t help but stir a sense of wonder. Not many could imagine that it hides within a mini oasis that immediately relieves you of any sense of travel exhaustion, stress, or everyday life concerns.
It's owners seemed to have gone beyond expectation to provide it's guests what the place aims to be: a sanctuary. As you walk in, all of your senses will activated through the soothing sound of running water from the fountains and pool, the scent of flowers, the linen, the vibrant colors and shapes of artwork both outdoor and indoor that, in a strange way, peacefully merges with the stillness Vatu transmits.
The owners might be too humble to admit, but they have one of the most exquisite collections of Aboriginal art in Australia. Art lovers, artists, writers, if you are looking for a retreat space to create or meditate, look no further. Every room, every hall, and every corner where you’d least expect it, you’ll find art on the wall, a design to inspire, or a concept on which to ponder.
I hesitate to suggest the place should be advertised as an art gallery, as the masses of tourism would probably take away its peace and calm. The unfortunate rush created by short-lived experiences in the tourism industry these days unconsciously leads us to undermine the sacredness of a place. For Australia, this is a magical territory like no other. Sadly, many people come in and out via Alice, visit Ayers Rock on a 2-day excursion, take their selfies (of which I am totally guilty), and don’t make the time in their itinerary to reflect on the experience. Instead, they tend to rush through to the next destination or routine.
When making the journey out to Alice Springs, please reconsider. When our tour to Uluru ended, it made all the difference to return to Vatu Sanctuary for another night; it was a place where I could consolidate everything I’ve seen and felt. By then, the aboriginal art became a stronger reminder of who this land belongs to, and stirred a new sense of appreciation and respect. We were guests in a sacred land.
In a beautiful way, that is what Vatu symbolized. From the very beginning, walking into Vatu feels like being welcomed at someone’s home. The gracious hosts took care of everything from car rides to delivering breakfast, assuring our experience was as perfect as it could be, all while managing to maintain a great level of privacy.
Thank you Colin and the wonderful hosts for such incredible experience. Thank you for extending such an immense sense of gratitude and desire to give back, and most importantly, for transforming the Uluru experience. Thank you for the reminder that it is the little things that give color and texture to our lives.
Thank you Sarah for such a beautiful article… we loved having you here and it was a shame that you could not stay longer. There is so much to see, do and experience that you do need to spend longer, if only to feel and really experience our region of Central Australia… we don’t call it the “heart” for nothing. The creativity that oozes out of the rock and red dirt, can be found everywhere, coalescing into the numerous vibrant events and activities. Our ‘sanctuary’ is definitely created to feed the soul and to provide that place of rest, before heading out again on your journey of exploration and adventure. We have many returning guests, so when you come back this way, we will welcome you as part of the family…