Uluru Australia, previously known as “Ayers Rock,” is a gigantic red rock formation within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. It’s located 450km from Alice Springs, in the middle of the Northern Australian Outback. Should Uluru be a part of your Itinerary? It depends on who you ask.
My earliest visual association with Australia was Uluru. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, people booked vacations using travel agents with actual shops. I used to glare at the photos in the window of Uluru with awe.
Almost every advertisement for Australia had two things on display – Uluru, and Koalas. I marveled at the big red rock, wondering what was so mystical about it, why people visited, and what all the fuss was about. Sydney, as a visual hook, came years later. Indeed, the Opera House is fabulous, and Sydney is a beautiful city – but it’s still a city. Therefore, this big red rock had my attention long before it was fashionable to travel to Sydney.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is the home of Uluru Australia. However, the park is home to both Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Uluru, the more famous of the two, is the most significant formation. Kata Tjuta, or “The Olgas,” is impressive but not the main attraction.
Most noteworthy, both are sacred to indigenous Australians. According to legend, the ancestral beings’ spirits continue to reside in these holy places, making the land a critical part of Aboriginal culture. The park is internationally recognized as a World Heritage Area. The park is owned and operated by the Anangu- Aboriginal people, who leased the park to Parks Australia under a joint management agreement.
Getting To Uluru Australia
Getting to Uluru is relatively straightforward. You can fly on any of these airline routes:
- Jetstar from: Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.
- Qantas from: Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney.
- Virgin Australia from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney.
All of these airlines fly directly into Ayers Rock Airport.
Flights are dirt cheap, $354 for two one-way tickets, and this was peak season. We flew out on Christmas Eve.
There is a free shuttle to and from the airport. Likewise, a free shuttle in the resort will take you from one hotel to another.
Map of Uluru Australia
Uluru Australia Accommodations
Let me save you some time here, and this is important. The park is owned and operated by the Anangu. The Anangu are indigenous; they own and operate the only resort – Ayers Rock Resort.
You can search every website known to man, and this is your only choice period!
This being said, Ayers Rock Resort offers various types of accommodation. The accommodations range from camping and shared hostel rooms to five-star luxury and back.
We chose the Desert Gardens Hotel, a 4-star hotel.
Here is a list of all the accommodations available at Ayers Rock Resort:
- Sails in the Desert
- Desert Gardens Hotel
- Emu Walk Apartments
- The Lost Camel
- Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge
- Ayers Rock Campground
Book Your Uluru Hotel Here:
Before you even look, be warned that the accommodations are not budget-friendly. All of the accommodations are exceptionally overpriced for what they are.
Our stay cost us way over $500 for two nights! Once on-site at the resort, be prepared to spend, spend, and spend – lavishly! For example, a buffet meal for two will quickly run you a couple of hundred dollars without trying.
A grocery store is on-site to save money, but you will drop some cash while visiting Uluru, Australia; it’s unavoidable.
There is a free shuttle to and from the airport. Likewise, a free shuttle in the resort will take you from one hotel to another and around the resort area.
Things to Do At Uluru Australia
Some people are skeptical of Uluru Australia’s remoteness and immediately assume there’s nothing to do other than gaze at the big red rock. There’s a fair amount of things to see and do. Not weeks’ worth unless you like baking in the sun for hours, but there is plenty to do.
Explore the base of Uluru
By far, the most popular thing to do is explore the base of Uluru, Australia. After all, that’s why people visit.
The most common way to explore is a traditional walking tour with an operator. Or you can take an ATV tour, bike, motorcycle, or segway. All base tours require that you leave at 5 am.
5 am was the middle of the night for us, so this was out of the question. We rented a car and explored on our own. A wise choice because we could drive from site to site in comfort. We also enjoyed not being a part of a group on a schedule.
I should tell you that renting a car is a great choice, and it’s more expensive than taking some tours. Renting a car, like accommodations, are astronomically costly in Uluru, Australia. For us, it was worth it as schedules are not for us.
As you explore the base, search for Aboriginal rock art everywhere. Or, try to find the watering holes hidden at the bottom. You can also visit the Cultural Center and learn about the culture and traditions.
TIP: If you’ve never taken a segway tour before now is the time. Manufacture of these two-wheeled phenomenons ended in July of 2020.
Explore by Air
You can also take a helicopter ride within the park and catch an aerial view of Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Learn to Play the Didgeridoo
The Ayers Rock Resort offers free didgeridoo classes that are a blast! While I expected this to be a brief “blow in the pipe” type experience, I was shocked at how educational and fun this was. Almost every aspect, from history to use, is covered along with practical instruction. So, take part in a class if you can.
Take a Camel Ride or Visit The Camels
You can also take a camel ride and admire Uluru from a distance. You can also go down to the Uluru Camel Farm, the largest in Australia. Take the free shuttle bus down there.
The farm welcomes visitors daily between 9 am and 3 pm in the colder months (April to October) and 9 am to 1 pm in summer (November to March).
Farm entry is FREE.
Sunset View of Uluru
A trip to Uluru, Australia, would not be complete without a sunset view. While you can take any of the tours mentioned above mid-day to achieve this, or you can self-drive. I think the best way is to take a tour combining the sunset viewing with an Aussie barbecue dinner under the stars. Hence, this was by far the highlight of the Uluru experience.
Another costly tour will set you back at least $150pp, but it’s worth it. If you choose to do this, you will have options from the Sounds of Silence to Uluru Sunset with Dinner from various vendors. We picked the Aussie Barbecue Dinner under the Stars Plus BBQ with AATKings.
During the sunset viewing, you will munch on cheese and veggies and drink wine or champagne. You will then be whisked off to the Cultural Center for dinner. Dinner is a buffet that also includes alcohol. You can try traditional fares such as kangaroo or lamb sausages.
Explore Kata Tjuta
Few people know about or take the time to travel out to Kata Tjuta. Otherwise known as The Olgas, which translates to “many heads.” While the 36 domed heads of Kata Tjuta are taller than Uluru, and you can walk between many of them, assuming you can stand the heat. Almost all take a famous walk called the Valley of the Winds. We skipped this because of the heat and flies.
Travel Essentials You Should Pack for Uluru
If you are planning to travel to Uluru while visiting Australia, there are some items you should pack. Most of these items can be purchased on-site but at a premium price. Setting out to conquer the big red rock without the right supplies will ruin your experience. Here is what you need to pack and why.
The absolute DO NOT LEAVE HOME WITHOUT:
A head net is probably the most critical thing you will need while visiting Uluru. The flies are relentless and will chew away at you all day. Bug spray helps, but it’s challenging to protect your eyes.
I think this is essential for any trip, but it’s beyond necessary for Uluru. You need this even if you get head nets! Not only will you get eaten by flies at the rock, but you will also encounter hungry bugs all over the resorts. Spray this over your clothes to ward off as many pests as possible. You will also need this if you plan to spend any time at the pool.
You may still get bitten even with a head net and insect repellant. Be prepared after Bite Advanced Formula is a portable solution that relieves the itch and sting from mosquitoes, flea, and other insect bites.
The NICE TO HAVE
Most people visiting Uluru will hike. Having a walking stick will be very helpful for many of the hikes. These walking sticks collapse and are sold in pairs, perfect for traveling with.
You could opt for a flashlight, but let’s assume you plan to tackle the rock at dusk. Or, you get stuck there at sunset. A headlight enables you to be hands-free. This headlight is also USB chargeable.
Water, water, water! You will need lots of water. Plan well in advance and take advantage of having a foldable water bottle.
This gadget will come in handy if you run out of water. However, only if you can find a source of water. The main natural one is The Mutitjulu Waterhole, which lies at the Uluru foot – follow the signs. LifeStraw is a cheap and eco-friendly way to get water if you are in a jam.
*Note: You can get water at the visitor’s center.
The YOU SHOULD CARRY THESE EVERYWHERE
Everyone needs a first aid kit when they travel. We also have one on our boat. This particular one is perfect for travel because it’s small, light, and clipped onto a belt or luggage. This little set contains a whopping 92 items, only 0.35 pounds!
You will need this for your lips! And, if you’re running around in the head net, you might as well have some sass on your lips! Zinka Colored Sunblock Zinc is waterproof, moistening while protective, and looks great!
Sunscreen, this might seem obvious, but there is little shade at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. If you are hiking, you will need a lot of powerful sunscreens. Yes, you can buy it at the resort but at four times the cost.
What you need to know about visiting Uluru Australia
- Two nights/three days is enough time to explore and take in the main highlights.
- There is a free shuttle to and from the airport. Likewise, a free shuttle in the resort will take you from one hotel to another.
- Skip the balcony view or garden view because it’s pointless. You cannot possibly open your patio doors due to the sheer number of bugs. Yep, everywhere by the thousand!
- If you walk around the base of Uluru, it’s about 5.8 miles. I seriously do not recommend this unless you are into chaffed legs.
- It’s blazing hot, blisteringly painful—over 100 degrees daily. Even in the early hours, it’s sweltering; hence, all organized tips leave in the early morning or at sunset.
- It would help if you had a mosquito head net. Not for mosquitoes, for flies! You will be eaten alive by flies without the net, and repellent does not work! These suckers are immune. I know this from experience. As ridiculous as these things look – pucker up and get one. If you don’t, well, I did warn you!
- Do not climb Uluru out of religious respect. As of 2019, climbing Uluru Australia is officially illegal.
- Do not photograph the aboriginals without consent; it’s incredibly disrespectful.
- The resort has a grocery store; you can save money by buying food and drinks.
Should Uluru be on your Itinerary? From my perspective, yes! First of all, this was a bucket list moment for me. The sheer size alone should captivate you; if not the size, the striking burnt red colors of the outback should. Uluru is a historical and cultural experience that embodies the bush and is a glimpse into one of the oldest living cultures. I don’t regret it at all and would go again. For me, this was a must. The iconic red rock symbolized Australia for me and was worth the cost.
Finally, Brian would tell you it’s a giant big red rock in the middle of nowhere, rendering it somewhat pointless. Furthermore, he will also tell you it was overpriced, overrated, and painful.
Looking for more posts to inspire you? Start here:
- 15 Hidden Gems in Hobart, Tasmania
- All You Need To Know About Rotorua – New Zealand
- Cairns, Queensland – Australia
- The Hobbiton Movie Set – Auckland, New Zealand
- The Waitomo Caves of New Zealand
- Why Australia Should Be On Your Bucket List
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