The Australian Outback: Uluru and Ayers Rock


What is Uluru?

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock is a very large sandstone rock formation in central Australia, specifically, the southern part of the Northern Territory. It lies 208 miles (335 km) south west of the nearest town, called Alice Springs. Most people try to visit Uluru/Ayers Rock and Alice Springs in one trip if possible. For my trip, I only had time for Uluru/Ayers Rock, so I’ll add that to my very long list of reasons to visit the amazing Australia again! Uluru is considered sacred to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu, which are the Aboriginal (native) people of the area. The area around the rock formation is home to an abundance of ancient paintings, rock caves, water holes and springs. Uluru/Ayers Rock is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas, another grouping of large, domed rock formations, are the two major features of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Uluru is one of Australia (and in my opinion, one of the world’s) most recognizable natural landmarks. The sandstone rock formation stands 1,142 feet (348 meters) high, rising 2,831 feet (863 meters) above sea level with most of it’s bulk lying underground. This totally reminds me of the land version of an iceberg. It’s total circumference is 5.8 miles (9.4 km) and is known for appearing to change color at different times of the day and even year. It seems to flow more red at dawn and sunset. Both the Uluru and Kata Tjuta formations have great cultural significance for the Anangu people, who are still to this day the traditional inhabitants of the area. They lead walking tours to inform visitors about the local flora and fauna and Aboriginal dreamtime stories of the area.


How did it form?

There are many differing Aborginal ancestral stories and accounts given for the origins of Uluru. Here’s a few of them:

From Robert Layton’s (1989) Uluru: An Aboriginal History of Ayers Rock:

Uluru was built up during the creation period by two boys who played in the mud after the rain. When they had finished their game, they travelled south to Wiputa…fighting together, the two boys made their way to the table topped Mount Conner, on top of which their bodies are preserved as boulders.

Two other stories are told in Norbert Brockman’s (1997) Encyclopedia of Sacred Places. The first tells of serpent beings who waged many wars around Uluru, in turn scarring the rock. The second tells of two tribes of ancestral spirits who were invited to a feast, but were distracted by the beautiful Sleepy Lizard Women and did not show up. In response, the angry hosts sang evil into a mud sculpture that came to life as a dingo. A great battle followed, which ended in the deaths of the leaders of both tribes. The earth rose up in grief at the bloodshed, becoming Uluru.







Kani Botanicals Moon Milk


Behind the Brand

Stephanie Guerra, founder of Kani Botanicals started her line as a simple solution for her struggles with sensitive skin. After years of fighting terrible acne and allergic skin reactions to everything from laundry detergent to lotions, she became heavily interested in more holistic and natural methods of treating my skin. She began to learn about integrative herbology, holistic nutrition and cosmetic chemistry. She also finally began paying attention to her Colombian mother and aunts who always told her to try oils from fruits and plants that she had never heard of. She went from that girl who spent hundreds of dollars a month on “designer” skincare treatments to the one who would spend night after night in the kitchen experimenting on making her own skincare. Stephanie started reading labels and ingredient lists, and all of it made her shake her head.

The real turning point that changed her hobby into the adventure it is today was after traveling some years back to Finland and Sweden. She was really inspired by how the people there protected and nurtured their skin in extreme weather conditions and by their cultural use of saunas. It was then that she realized that her Colombian heritage was very similar to ones she had seen traveling, in that the people that inhabited these harsh areas took care of their skin with use of the similar natural ingredients; As a result, they had amazing skin. After many sleepless nights and constantly tinkering and tweaking back and forth with formulas, she developed Kani Botanicals. Stephanie was sick of seeing overpriced products, whose first ingredients were alcohol or water and were followed by a list of sulfates, parabens and phthalates. Kani is the exact opposite, and will always be handmade products from the best local, organic, fair-trade and vegan ingredients.

Stephanie named her line ‘Kani,’ because her childhood nickname was ‘rabbit’ because her two front teeth came in before the rest. The Finnish name for rabbit is ‘kani,’ and that namesake will always be her favorite animal.


Moon Milk

Kani Botanicals Moon Milk is a shimmering and nourishing oil for the body, face and hair that leaves you luminous and smooth. This is never going to make you look like the tin man. The oil is super lightweight, silky and it illuminates you with gold shimmer which complements all skin tones and complexions. To use, you smooth it over your skin, also highlighting your legs, arms, shoulders and décolleté. You can also gently tap it on your forehead, bridge of the nose and cheekbones for a lit from within glow, and then run what’s left on your hands through the ends of your hair to tame any frizz or split ends you might have. This beauty oil also moisturizes and protects dry skin and has the most intoxicating scent of tuberose, jasmine, bergamot and ylang ylang. When I received this in the mail, I could smell it through the box! This is an absolutely stunning product, just like every single product Stephanie puts her heart and soul into at Kani Botanicals.


Plaine Products


Behind the Brand

Did you know that only 1 in 5 people recycle plastic bottles and items from their bathroom? And even when you do recycle, only 5-10% of the world’s plastic is actually reclaimed for recycling and of those reclaimed, only 10-20% of the actual bottle itself can be recycled. What remains then gets downgraded into yet another form of single use plastic. If we don’t change this, by 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish. It’s this problem that Lindsey and Alison, the sisters behind Plaine Products want to help educate people on and solve. They founded Plaine Products to be able to provide the first natural, quality products in sustainable packaging, which would make it easier for everyone to use a little less plastic in their lives. They sell shampoo, conditioner and body wash all available to use, refill and reuse over and over again.

Lindsey’s background is in non-profit management and her and her husband were living in the Bahamas for the past 10 years, as her husband is Bahamian. While they were there, she worked with and ran environmental education organizations and because it is such a small island nation, she saw first hand the problems that single use plastic was causing. She witnesses so much trash on the beach and in the ocean which was in turn, killing marine life. Just as she saw this happening on and near the ocean, she also saw it happening on land; plastic bags, bottles and caps everywhere. When Lindsey realized that plastic never really goes away, and how much of it we use once and throw out, she knew she wanted to try to live differently. As she was starting to change the way she was living, she also wanted to help others do the same. She finds it incredibly exciting to get people involved in creating less waste, and giving them a concrete opportunity on making that choice for themselves and for the planet as a whole. Lindsey, her husband and son moved back to the states in 2015 to Wilmington, North Carolina, where she’s been working on Plaine Products ever since. Her sister, Alison, is in Cincinnati, Ohio and she helped Lindsey get the business started and going. Alison helps with the design, packaging and distribution of PP, while Lindsey handles the rest. All PP products are high quality and chemical free, making them safe for adults and children alike. The name Plaine Products came from the sisters’ maiden name: Delaplaine.


Eco Friendly Packaging

While plastic makes life (and bottling) easier, Lindsey and Alison knew there had to be a better way. They decided to use aluminum bottles for several reasons. Unlike plastic, aluminum is able to be completely recycled without any loss in quality at a fraction of the initial production cost and energy requirements. The bottles are strong enough to survive a number of trips – so they will be well worn before they recycle them. Historically, aluminum has proven to be one of the most important materials in successful recycling programs. They are easily cleaned and sterilized, so they can ensure that our bottles are safe to use again and again. They chose to work with EcoEnclose, whose boxes are made from a mix of 95% post-consumer waste and 5% post-industrial waste. There are absolutely NO new materials used in the manufacturing of their green shipping cartons. Best of all, EcoEnclose worked with Plaine Products to develop boxes that will stand up to shipping refills and the return of empty jars to be refilled and reused.


Circular Economy & the Environment

In the past, it’s often been the environment versus the economy, but the Plaine Product’s model supports both. Plaine Products is designed to be part of the circular economy, which functions more like a natural ecosystem – nothing is ever wasted. Also, by cleaning and reusing the jars, Plaine Products is able to create jobs. Research indicates that reuse and remanufacture creates 8 – 20 jobs per thousand tons of material compared to 5-10 jobs created per thousand tons of material by traditional recycling.


The Products

Shampoo – the best organic ingredients combine to bring back manageability, sheen and softness to the hair

Conditioner – restores essential nutrients to the hair to enhance your hair’s texture which results in luminous, silky, smooth hair

Body Wash – gently cleanse your skin by restoring it with powerful nutrients and antioxidants

(click on pink text to shop the products)

All three of the above products have the same soothing and intoxicating scent: rosemary, mint and vanilla. Rosemary is healing, mint is uplifting and vanilla is comforting and calming. I have been using all of these products over the past few weeks and they are so simple but super effective. The shampoo and body wash do not strip the skin or scalp from natural oils. The conditioner does not weight down the hair at all. I’m actually not a huge vanilla person, but in this combination, the vanilla balances out the rosemary and mint. It is a total aromatherapy experience smelling and using these products that were made with so much love. All of these products are hypoallergenic, baby safe, color safe, biodegradable, vegan, cruelty free and Plaine Products never do any animal testing when formulating these products. Also, their products are great for all skin types and never contain any parabens, PEGs, sulfates, dyes, petrochemicals or synthetic fragrances. When ordering your subscription, you can choose between a refill once every two, three or four months. You can specify to get a pump included on your first initial order, and for refills thereafter, no pump since you already have the one you previously got, so even less waste!