Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, wasn’t number one on my Australia must-do list. In fact, it wasn’t even in the top 3. However, after spending time there, it’s a must-see if you make ity down under.
What people will tell you before you go to Uluru
“It’s a long journey” – if you’re driving or decide to get The Ghan (train) it is yes, if you fly it’s a lot quicker. But if you only visited places in your vicinity, who would travel?
“There are lots of flies” – yes there are, a lot in fact, but there are many more during the warmer months but less during winter. So bare this in mind when choosing to visit.
“It’ll be very hot” – it’s the centre of Australia, of course it’ll be hot, so be prepared!
“It’s just a rock” – technically yes, but it’s also a 395m high and spans 3.6kms. That’s almost four times the height of Big Ben.
“Don’t drive in the outback at night” – this is a sound piece of advice, it is NOT SAFE to drive in the outback at night. Trust me, I almost hit a black cow on a black road due to the black sky.
How to get there
1) Fly to Alice Springs and either rent a car or go with a tour group to Uluru. Remember Alice is 447km’s away though.
2) Fly to Yulara and get picked up from the airport by Ayers Rock Resort and stay there. They have daily free busses to take you to Uluru and Kata Tjuata.
3) Catch The Ghan and allow a train to take you across the outback ending in Alice Springs.
4) Rent a car or campervan and drive across the outback.
We opted to drive and hired a campervan from Adelaide. This was the cheapest option for us and the most exciting. While the road is long and somewhat boring, it is an experience in itself.
I wouldn’t advise doing it alone, the drive from Adelaide takes just under 17 hours and covers 1,571kms.
It’s wise to stop every few hours, there aren’t many towns but there are plenty of rest stops.
Whenever you do find a ‘town’ I’d reccomend getting fuel, while it can be costly it’s defintely important to always have a full tank.
The largest town along the way and the best place to stop halfway is Coober Pedy. 85% of the worlds opals are mined here, tours are offered to visitors to explore the mines which would be a good idea to break up your drive.
Petrol prices increase a lot across the outback and the closer you get to Uluru the more it costs. To give you an idea, below is how much petrol cost per litre along our route. (Prices as of March 2019)
Where to stay
Yulara is the closet city to Uluru. It is also the location of Ayers Rock Resort where there are plenty of hotel options as well as a campground. However, even the cheapest option is still a bit pricy so just bare that in mind when it comes to accomodation.
The food situation
If you are driving to Uluru then there are not many places to eat along the way. Petrol stations and road houses sell food but there’s not always a great selection or healthy options.
Your best bet is to stock up on food before you travel if driving. We used the fridge in our van to keep the few perishables we had cold.
Once you get to Yulara there are a a good amount of options to eat ranging in price. It will cost you more than making your own and on average is higher than in other cities.
Uluru Kata Tjuata National Park
Ayers Rock Resort is 17 minutes from Uluru and 45 minutes from Kata Tjuata (The Olgas). Both attractions are wonderful to see at sunrise and sunset. These are also the best times to do any walks in the park as it’s the coolest times with the least amount of flies.
Entrance to the park is $25 per adult and the ticket will give you unlimited admitance for three consecutive days.
Below is our itinerary for what we did over three days at the park:
Day 1: Arrived at around 6pm in time for sunset at Uluru. We had driven eight hours from Coober Pedy the same day.
Day 2: Awake early to watch the sunrise over Uluru, I’d advise going to the Dune Viewing Area for this. Then make your way to the cultural centre to understand the heritage of Uluru before joining a guided walk at 8am by the Mala.
Head back to Ayers Rock Resort around lunchtime to a free aboriginal cooking demonstration which highlights how people used to cook and what local foods they used. Then make your way to Kata Tjuata at 5pm to start one of the self-guided walks and watch the sunset.
Day 3: Wake up early to watch the sunrise over Kata Tjuata before driving back to Coober Pedy or make your way to the airport in Yulara or Alice Springs.
The overall experience
Uluru Kata Tjuata National Park should definitely be on your Australia bucket list. It’s an experience unlike any other, please don’t underestimate this and think of it as ‘just a rock’. It really is so muh more than that.