You’ve seen it on tea towels, TV advertisements and kitschy souvenirs. But it surely’s guess that you simply haven’t seen it up shut and private in all its red-earth glory. Uluru is sort of a sufferer of its iconic standing. We Australians comprehend it so effectively that many people don’t comprehend it in any respect.

Whereas worldwide travellers circle the globe to marvel on the icon of the pink centre, Australians are typically blasé about what’s in their very own yard. Maybe we reckon it’s not going anyplace, and it’ll nonetheless be standing after we lastly get round to visiting. Or maybe it’s the price of touring to the center of the nation which retains it on the again burner. It could, in spite of everything, appear cheaper to go to Fiji.

However we shouldn’t depart it on our to-do listing. Uluru is the geographic and non secular coronary heart of our nation. Greater than that, it’s gobsmackingly awe-inspiring. Nothing can put together you to your first encounter.

Visiting will be costly, however it’s value it. Whereas there’s probably not an inexpensive approach to do it, there are many cheaper choices and methods it can save you if you happen to plan forward.

Getting there

Uluru is severely distant, and the gateway is Yulara, the city that was established within the Seventies to assist tourism to the rock. It’s grown right into a village that gives each vacationer lodging and dwelling quarters for the employees who service it.

Should you’re flying, request a window seat to get a terrific aerial view of Uluru. Return flights with Jetstar will be discovered for as little as $270 from Melbourne and about $350 from Sydney, however can soar to $800 and above within the August and September peak interval. Cheaper choices can commonly be discovered as long as you’re versatile through which days you fly.

Dreamliner aircraft flies close to Kata Tjuta in the NT.
Dreamliner plane flies near Kata Tjuta within the NT. {Photograph}: James D Morgan/Getty Photographs

Should you’re attending to Uluru by automotive, be ready for a street journey with little or no between stops. It’s four-and-a-half-hours drive from Alice Springs.


Whereas attending to Uluru will be costly, to really step into the Uluru-Kata Tjuta nationwide park prices solely $38 for 3 days. Entry is free for beneath 18s. The 2 websites, Uluru and Kata Tjuta rising majestically out of a seemingly barren panorama, sit only a 40-minute drive from one another.

Uluru is less complicated to soak up, and is extra accessible given its proximity to Yulara and the wealth of excursions and choices for navigating it.

At Uluru, getting up earlier than dawn is not only mandatory (temperatures turn out to be too sizzling for lengthy walks in the midst of the day), it’s breathtaking.

Whatever the time, you’ll additionally wish to deliver a fly web to your hat – because the solar rises, flies can turn out to be insupportable (nets promote for $10 in Yulara). I’d additionally suggest shopping for fly repellent cream to dab on the again of your ears.

Out of the warmth of the day, even a reasonably match individual can do the flat 10km stroll round its base. You’ll be able to’t get misplaced since you’re mainly strolling round in a circle, although a information (Seit tours run several trips, their sundown tour begins from $73, as much as a trekking tour for $177) will have the ability to enrich the expertise.

Tourists take pictures of Uluru just before sunrise.
Vacationers take photos of Uluru simply earlier than dawn. {Photograph}: Lukas Coch/AAP

Should you choose to do it totally free by your self, and stroll round at your individual tempo, plaques put in by the nationwide park give insights into the cultural significance of varied caves and waterholes. In addition they inform a number of the tales treasured to the native Anangu conventional house owners, akin to on the Kapi Mutitjulu waterhole, the place it’s mentioned that the spirit of Minyma Kuniya mixed together with her nephews to turn out to be Wanampi, a watersnake.

For these averse to strolling, you may pedal a motorcycle ($60 for 3 hours rent from Outback Cycling), experience a Segway (from $149) or mount a Harley Davidson (from $139).

One go to to the rock is probably not sufficient, and also you would possibly end up racing again in time for sundown, when temperatures turn out to be bearable once more. Should you do, you’ll be a part of a contingent of sightseers by their vehicles and campervans, all with cameras, patiently watching as the colors of Uluru remodel within the fading gentle.

“Lots of people don’t realise that as a result of many elements of Uluru are delicate websites on account of Anangu perception, a lot of it isn’t within the pictures most individuals can have seen earlier than coming right here,” notes Steve Baldwin, a park ranger.

Kata Tjuta

Kata Tjuta (previously the Olgas) is usually the Cinderella sister. Many guests make it to Uluru with out taking place the street to see the equally placing domed rock formations. And that’s a mistake.

As with Uluru, visiting Kata Tjuta is greatest at dawn or sundown, away from the height of the warmth. Given this, you’d be hard-pressed to do complete treks round each websites in the identical day, however may feasibly spend a couple of hours at Kata Tjuta in a morning and see Uluru at sundown.

The Katja Tjuta red rock formations.
The Katja Tjuta pink rock formations. {Photograph}: Gonzales Photograph/Alamy

As you strategy, the positioning seems to be one among improbably massive, rounded boulders, leaning collectively and impregnable. However for the intrepid adventurer – and also you do must be dedicated for this typically tough three-hour self-navigated, free stroll – there’s the magical Valley of the Winds, that spreads out earlier than you when you’ve scaled the jagged and steep incline. By the way in which, it’s not referred to as the Valley of the Winds for nothing. Be ready to be actually blown away. It will get fairly chilly.

Most vacationers accept a peek at Walpa Gorge, which is its personal sort of particular: two large going through partitions of sheer rock providing a small slice of sky above.

Getting round – do I want a automotive?

Uluru will not be inside strolling distance, so it’s your automotive or a tour bus.

Should you’re travelling solo, the Uluru hop-on hop-off service gives a return journey to Uluru, for $49, and $80 to Kata Tjuta. These bus journeys run for the dawn and sundown timeslots.

For extra flexibility, you may hire a automotive from Yulara airport. Having your individual wheels (you should ebook upfront) means you may trip to the nationwide park at any time when the temper takes you.

Whereas offers will be had, most automotive rental firms’ least expensive choices will price about $320 per day. (Like the remainder of the nation, rental automotive firms have been stung by quick provide all through the pandemic, and rental costs in Uluru are additionally greater than common.)

What else is there to do?

One attraction that received’t price you a cent is the model new Gallery of Central Australia (Goca) in Yulara. It’s a platform for native Indigenous artists, entry is free, and there are each day excursions from 10:30am. Goca is genuinely spectacular – the colourful use of colors within the works on its partitions make this a rewarding place to go to. The gallery showcases works from rising and unbiased artists from throughout Central Australia, with work and a few sculptures obtainable to buy.

There are a selection of free experiences obtainable on the resort which vary from didgeridoo workshops and dot portray lessons. The Bush Meals expertise, a guided stroll by the resort of native elements – akin to candy bush plums utilized in meals and medication . Tour guides give a rundown of when and the right way to choose fruits, to the cultural and dietary significance of the vegetation.

Nevertheless, you might simply wish to spend any downtime escaping the warmth in one of many a number of swimming swimming pools all through the complicated – that are free for these staying on the resort.

Lastly, lookup. Away from the sunshine air pollution of a metropolis, gazing up on the night time sky looks like watching a film, as layers of stars and patterns turn out to be seen. There are a number of stargazing excursions obtainable however the secret is actually to simply drive slightly out of Yulara, flip off all automotive and cellphone lights, and lookup. It’s additionally free.

The place to remain

The Ayers Rock Resort complicated in Yulara is the (solely) place to remain. Resort choices have a two-night minimal, beginning with the luxurious Sails within the Desert (from $475/ night time) and Desert Gardens (from $400/ night time) which sports activities views of Uluru from rooms.

Yulara village and Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park.
Yulara village and Uluru-Kata Tjuta nationwide park. {Photograph}: David Wall/Alamy

The most affordable choice is the three.5 star cabin-style Outback Pioneer Resort (from $300/ night time). The Emu Stroll flats (from $420 per night time for a one bed room residence that sleeps 4), fits households and teams wanting cooking services of their room.

For travellers in campervans and people seeking to economise with tents, there’s a campground on the resort, with communal cooking and bathing services, which begins at $43 per night time.

The place to eat

When you’ve booked lodging, it’s value placing thought into a few of your meals. For the intense and cashed-up foodie, there’s the Tali Wiru expertise, a $380 a head “gastronomic journey” served in a non-public dune beneath the celebs.

There are many far cheaper eats obtainable across the Yulara city sq.. The Kulata Academy Cafe trains the resort’s employees and sells pies and sandwiches ($10.50, served with facet salad). There are a number of different takeaway and cafe choices within the sq., and an IGA grocery store for provides (they do takeaway BBQ chickens for $11). The pub on the Outback Pioneer Kitchen, close to the tenting website, gives pub fare with burgers for $18 and pizzas for $25.


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