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Uluru is one of Australia’s instantly recognisable landmarks and a destination loved by travellers from home and abroad. This world famous attraction is a natural canvas for the sun as it casts a rainbow of colour across Uluru’s time worn and battle scarred exterior. Our first glimpse of Uluru was thrilling and up close we were awe inspired by the sheer size as photos do not do justice to the massive proportions of this ancient monolith.
There is so much to do at Uluru, learn about Anangu traditions and culture during an Uluru base walk, capture the glory of an Uluru sunrise from the back of a camel or watch the sun set over Uluru with a glass of bubbles and an outback barbecue. For everything you need to know about planning a trip to Uluru look no further than our ultimate Uluru travel guide.
Uluru (formerly Ayres Rock) and Kata Tjuta (formerly the Olgas) are in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park which is 467 km south west of the city of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. Entry fees apply to enter the park below are the rates at the time of our visit.
- $38: Adult pass valid for three consecutive days
- $50: Adult annual pass
- $109: Northern Territory annual parking pass
This iconic sandstone rock rises dramatically to a height of 348 metres and has been towering above this red centre landscape for around 550 million years. Uluru has a base of 9.4 km and incredible as it may seem most of Uluru’s mass remains lying hidden underground.
Uluru is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a deeply spiritual place to the local Anangu people who are the lands traditional owners. It is believed that people have lived in the Uluru region for at least 30,000 years. At first glance the rock may seem devoid of life, but it is home to a diverse range of wildlife and plant life.
Best Time to Visit Uluru
The best time to visit Uluru is between May and September when maximum temperatures during the day reach a warm 20 to 30 degree Celsius. The weather is cooler this time of year making exploring Uluru a pleasant experience. Make sure to rug up at night as temperatures can plummet to below zero Celsius during winter (June – August). The parks wildflowers are in bloom from August to September.
Between October to March daytime temperatures soar and often reach the late 30 to 40 degree Celsius. During this time, the fly population increases to annoying proportions and the heat makes exploring Uluru more demanding. Start Uluru walks early and wear sunscreen and a hat (with fly nets if possible) and take plenty of water and snacks.
How to get to Uluru
When planning your trip to Uluru there are a few options to choose from, which you decide to take will depend on the length of stay and travel style you prefer. Here are the best choices from our ultimate Uluru travel guide.
Flights to Uluru
Most people visiting Uluru will fly in from one of Australia’s major cities, this is the quickest and easiest way to enjoy your Uluru holiday. Both Qantas and Jetstar have services to Uluru/Ayres Rock.
Tours from Alice Springs
Another popular option is to combine a holiday at Uluru and Alice Springs. There is an Ayers Rock Resort Bus Transfer and shuttle between both destinations and a choice of day or multi day tours from Alice Springs to Uluru. This is a great way to get the best out of the Northern Territory’s stunning attractions.
Uluru Self Drive Itinerary
Driving to Uluru is a great option for those wanting time to explore Alice Springs and Uluru at a leisurely pace. Here are our ultimate Uluru travel guide tips for an Uluru road trip.
Alice Springs to Uluru
Uluru is 467 km south west of the town of Alice Springs and takes around 4 hours and 50 minutes on the Stuart and Lasseter Highways. You can drive straight through or break your journey at the Erldunda Roadhouse at Ghan.
The Erldunda Roadhouse is a large service station with motel and camping accommodation. The Roadhouse has a restaurant and bar area which serves a fantastic range of meals for those wanting to stay overnight.
Ghan to Uluru
Ghan is located at the intersection of the Stuart Highway and Lasseter Highway and is a good place to stop and refuel. Turn onto the Lasseter Highway and continue the 267 km drive to Uluru which should take around 3 hours.
As you drive from Ghan to Uluru make sure to stop at the Mount Conner (Atila) lookout. Here you will see spectacular views of Mount Conner. This massive mesa stands out amid the plains and is often mistaken for Uluru.
Best Uluru Tours
The beauty of Uluru is that you can select which travel option you want, you can explore Uluru independently or take one of these unforgettable Uluru tours and experiences, the choice is yours.
Imagine the fun of exploring Uluru on a Segway and seeing a new day dawn over Uluru. Marvel at the colours of the desert on a sunset camel ride. Discover the culture and sacred sites of Uluru with an Aboriginal guide. Enjoy an Australian sunset barbecue dinner in Uluru. Or for the ultimate Uluru experience, take a scenic flight over Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Make memories that will last a lifetime with one of these fabulous Uluru tours.
What to see at Uluru?
While Uluru is one of the most impressive rocks in the world it also tells the cultural history of the Anangu people and is home to a variety of wildlife. Hidden in Uluru’s dry landscapes are a host of natural features including scenic waterholes and gorges.
In the evening you can witness the spectacular beauty of the Field of Light which adds another dimension of colour to this already popular attraction. Below are our ultimate Uluru travel guide tips for what to do at Uluru.
Uluru Viewing Areas
Standing out against a sky of soft pinks, purples and golds, the rich hues and silence of an Uluru sunrise and sunset adds a mystical air to this world famous attraction. During these times, the rock can change colour from dusky pink, blazing orange to intense shades of red.
The national park has three viewing areas which are the perfect place to capture the beauty of an Uluru sunrise and sunset.
If you miss sunrise and sunset do not despair as Uluru still puts on a show as sunlight continues to transform the colour of the rock throughout the day. The viewing sites can also be used for daytime visits.
**The Uluru bus sunset viewing area is accessible to all visitors until 4 pm after which they are reserved solely for buses and coach tour viewing.
The Talinguru Nyakunytjaku Sunrise Viewing Area
The main sunrise viewing area for Uluru is Talinguru Nyakunytjaku. From the viewing platforms you can watch the first rays of sunlight ripple across the weathered surface of the rock. This is the time to marvel at Uluru’s immense size and watch the light and shade highlight the texture and grain of its towering slopes.
Talinguru Nyakunytjaku Walks
From the viewing area you will find short walks that will give insight into the culture and survival skills of the local Anangu people.
Anangu culture is divided into women’s business and men’s business, both have individual rolls that are played within the community. These walking tracks highlight these rolls and visitors are welcome to explore both tracks.
Minymaku Walk (Women’s Walk)
The Minymaku Walk is a wheelchair accessible 1 km loop track which takes around 30 minutes to complete. This is the place to learn about women’s business such as the collection and processing of bush foods.
Watiku Walk (Men’s Walk)
To learn more about men’s business, take the Watiku Walk. This wheelchair accessible track is a 1.5 km loop where you can learn about tool making and hunting.
The Car Sunset Viewing Area
The car sunset viewing area is the place to get that Instagram worthy shot that Uluru is famous for. Nature performs her handiwork as Uluru is draped in a colour palette of pinks, orange and fiery red. This is Uluru at its most dramatic and a truly memorable once in a lifetime experience.
When visiting Uluru, you will find a range of walks which cover sections or the entire base of the rock, which you choose will depend on the weather, your fitness level and length of stay. Most of the tracks are wheelchair accessible when dry and range from easy to moderate.
When up close to Uluru you will find that the rock is filled with interesting imperfections. Deep gashes scar its surface, and it is pockmarked with holes and caves. Wave like patterns swirl and plunge down its slopes and large boulders litter its base.
The walking tracks are surrounded by red dirt and bushland which is home to a variety of animals and birdlife. As you walk you will discover hidden features such as the ancient rock art of the Anangu people.
Walking With Culture
Uluru and Kata Tjuta hold great spiritual significance to the Anangu people, the traditional owners of the land. As you walk in the footsteps of the Anangu people you will discover the Tjukurpa, the Anangu creation stories which have been passed down through the generations.
As you trek around Uluru you will see ancient rock art which were used for storytelling and teaching for thousands of years. Pigments were made of natural materials such as ground minerals, charcoal and ash mixed with water and animal fat.
Uluru Base Walk
The Uluru base walk is a 10.6 km track which takes in the circumference of Uluru. The track incorporates the Mala walk, north east face walk, Kuniya walk and Lungkata walk. The base walk is a moderate grade walking track which takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete and has wheelchair access during dry weather.
We advise starting the base walk early in the morning and finishing before 11 am to beat the heat of the day. Start from the Mala carpark and head clockwise around the base. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, take plenty of water, use sunscreen and take a hat. If you are visiting during the warmer months take fly mesh head gear as the flies will drive you crazy.
Throughout the walk the landscape changes with wide open sections with little shade, grassy claypans, bushland, woodlands and waterholes. There is plenty of opportunity to see wildlife and plant life while taking in the grandeur of Uluru.
There are a few choices when it comes to the Mala walk, you can do it on your own, take the ranger guided walk or visit on a tour. Ranger guided Mala walks start at 8am from October to April and 10 am from May to September.
The Mala walk leaves from the Mala carpark and is a 2 km easy grade walking track. The walk should take around 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete and is wheelchair accessible.On the walk you will visit Kantju Gorge which transforms into a waterfall when it rains.
Explore the ancient campsites and caves that tell the story of how the Anangu people lived their life in the shadow of Uluru. Admire the ancient rock art and peaceful beauty of Kantju Gorge. Visit the Kulpi Nyiinkaku a teaching cave where elders once taught young boy survival and hunting skills.
North East Face Walk
The north east face is home to numerous Anangu sacred sites and is the keystone to many creation stories. The north east face is a deeply spiritual place for the Anangu people so be respectful to Anangu culture as you walk around this area.
The walk takes you along lengthy pathways that are unshaded, make sure to start your walk early especially during the warmer months between December and February. There is wheelchair access during dry weather.
The Kuniya Walk
The Kuniya walk is a 1 km easy grade walking track which takes around 45 minutes to complete. The walk begins at the Kuniya carpark and is wheelchair accessible.
The walk takes you to Mutitjulu Waterhole which is one of Uluru’s permanent water sources. The waterhole is shaded by the deep ochre walls of Uluru and leafy trees turn the area into a much sort after green space for local animal and birdlife. At the Mutitjulu Cave you will learn about the day to day family life of the Anangu people. This fascinating history can be seen in the rock art of the area.
The Lungkata walk is a 4 km easy to moderate grade walking track which connects the Kuniya walk to the Mala carpark. The walk takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete and is wheelchair accessible in dry weather. Here you can get up close and personal with the rock as you pass a striking series of weathered caves and crevices that play host to an abundance of bird life.
The Liru walk is a 4 km easy to moderate grade walking track which connects the Cultural Centre to the base of Uluru. The walk takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete and is wheelchair accessible during dry weather.
Cultural Centre Activities
The cultural centre is a fascinating place where you can learn more about the Anangu culture. Here you will find a range of exhibits and free presentations that tell how the Anangu survived in this harsh environment for 30,000 years.
After visiting the cultural centre relax with a coffee at Ininti Café or pick up a souvenir at the gallery gift shop. The centre also has sheltered picnic areas with gas barbeques.
Field of Light Uluru
The Field of Light is and art installation by artist Bruce Munro. See Uluru under a blanket of stars while watching 50,000 spindles of light transform the desert into a magical fairyland of violet, blue, ochre and white.
Many people wonder where to stay in Uluru, when planning a trip to Uluru you will find a variety of accommodation options that will suit most budgets. It should be noted that all Uluru accommodation is in Yulara which is 25 km from Uluru.
Yulara is home to Uluru hotels, apartments and Uluru camping grounds. For those staying in Uluru apartments and campgrounds there is a IGA supermarket to pick up any last minute needs.
Our ultimate Uluru travel guide has some great suggestions for Uluru accommodation.
There is a choice of hotels at Uluru but Sails in the Desert is consistently on the top of the list of places to stay at Uluru.
Sails in the Desert
Sails in the Desert is a 5 star hotel which takes its inspiration from Aboriginal culture. Rooms and public areas are decorated with Aboriginal artworks. Rooms have a minibar, tea and coffee making facilities, a private bathroom with bathrobes, a hairdryer and free toiletries. Some rooms also come with a private balcony.
The hotel has a bar and a range of dining options, an outdoor swimming pool, a tennis court and a relaxing day spa. The hotel is a 5-minute walk from the Uluru lookout, the perfect place to watch a desert sunrise or sunset. Uluru is a 20 minute drive and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) is a 40-minute drive from the hotel.
Holiday apartments are ideal for families and those wanting a self-catering holiday.
Emu Walk Apartments
These self-contained apartments have a separate fully equipped kitchen, living and bedroom areas. One bedroom apartments contain an extra-large double bed and two sofa beds. For those wanting to eat out the apartments have two restaurants on site including the White Gums Restaurant and the Arnguli Grill.
I cannot imagine a better way to get an authentic Uluru experience than camping under the stars at Uluru.
Ayers Rock Campground
Things to do in Alice Springs
Tacking on Alice Springs to your Uluru itinerary is the best way to get an impression of life in Australia’s red heart.
Alice Springs is full of historical sites that pay homage to the tough breed of pioneers who tried to tame this arid land. Surrounded by the beauty of the MacDonnell Ranges you will find many natural wonders on its doorstep.
Anzac Hill is in the centre of town and pays tribute to those who lost their lives in war. This peaceful setting is also one of the best places for panoramic views of Alice Springs and the MacDonnell Ranges
Araluen Cultural Precinct
A visit to the Araluen Cultural Precinct is a must when visiting Alice Springs. The precinct has a variety of interesting and informative museums and art galleries throughout the vicinity, and the place to learn more about the history, wildlife and culture of the region.
Museums and galleries on site include:
- Araluen Arts Centre
- The Museum of Central Australia
- The Strehlow Research Centre
- The Central Australian Aviation Museum
- The Kookaburra Memorial
- Central Craft
- Public Art & The Yeperenye Sculpture
- Yaye’s Café
- Sacred Sites
Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum
The Royal Flying Doctor Service was founded by the Reverend John Flynn (1880 – 1951). Flynn had a vision to provide medical care to the people of the outback and with it the Royal Flying Doctor service was born.
These days it is almost impossible to imagine a time when there were only two doctors serving an area of 300,000 square kilometres in Western Australia and 1,500,000 square kilometres in the Northern Territory.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum is housed in the original Radio Station House and tells the story of Flynn of the Inland and of the pilots, nurses and patients of the RFDS. Here you can see a collection of historical radios and medical equipment and much more.
John Flynn’s Grave Historical Reserve
Set at the foot of the MacDonnell Ranges is the grave and resting place of the ashes of Reverend John Flynn. The memorial reserve acknowledges Flynn’s establishment of the Australian Inland Mission and founding of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
For those wanting to explore the MacDonnell Ranges the grave site also marks the start of the walking track to the summit of Mount Gillen.
Simpsons Gap is a picturesque gap in the MacDonnell Ranges. Located a short 18 km from Alice Springs, Simpson’s Gap is an easy grade walking trail which takes you past steep canyon walls, sandy riverbeds and quiet bushland to a peaceful waterhole setting.
Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve
When driving up to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station you will be astounded by the rock formations that surround the site. All is quiet apart from the buzzing of cicadas and the landscape could be mistaken for Mars.
The telegraph station was established in 1871 and was the first European settlement in the red centre. You can explore the historic buildings that are scattered around the site, have lunch in the shady picnic area or relax in the café.
Alice Springs School of the Air Visitors Centre
The Alice Springs School of the Air was the first school to use two-way radio broadcasts to educate students in the outback and has students living in an area of around 1,300.000 square kilometres. A visit to the Alice Springs School of the Air Visitors Centre will tell the history and give insight into remote education.
Alice Springs Tours
There is a lot more to see and do in and around Alice Springs and the best way to experience them is by taking a tour. Here are just a few of our favourites.
Explore the beauty of Standley Chasm, Simpsons Gap and Mount Sonder in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Discover the highlights of Alice Springs including the historic Telegraph Station, Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum and the Alice Springs School of the Air. Take an Alice Springs camel tour or for the ultimate catch an Alice Springs sunrise from a hot air balloon.
Best Uluru Tours From Alice Springs
For those visiting or making their base in Alice Springs there is a selection of Alice Springs to Uluru tours. This is an ideal opportunity to see the absolute best of the Australian outback.
Here are our choices for Uluru trips from Alice Springs.
Uluru (Ayres Rock) Day Trip from Alice Springs
This destination packed day trip from Alice Springs takes in many of the Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park attractions. Here are just a few of the attractions you will see.
- Uluru (Ayres Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas)
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre
- The Mala Walk
- The Mutitjulu Waterhole
- Uluru sunset barbeque with bubbles
2-Day Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) from Alice Springs
When looking for extensive Alice Springs Uluru tours this 2 day tour should be considered. Highlights and experiences on this tour include the following.
- Mount Conner
- Uluru–Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre
- Kuniya Walk Uluru
- Mutitjulu Waterhole Uluru
- Uluru Sunset Viewing
- Uluru Sunrise Viewing Area
- Kata-Tjuta (the Olgas) Dunes Viewing Area
- Walpa Gorge
Alice Springs Accommodation
There are a lot of Alice Springs Accommodation options, here are two places we stayed during our visit to Alice Springs.
Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters
The Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters is huge and incorporates restaurants, bars and Lasseters Casino. The hotel is next to the Alice Springs Convention Centre and Alice Springs Golf Course.
Room décor is desert inspired with rich accents and room choices include Deluxe Queen Room with Two Queen Beds to Two-Bedroom Suites. There is a pool, full-service spa, nightclub and 24-hour health club.
Desert Palms Alice Springs
Desert Palm Alice Springs is set in a peaceful tropical setting with individual villa accommodation. All villas are air-conditioned and have private terraces, ensuite bathrooms and kitchenette. Facilities include a guest laundry, BBQ area and secure off-street parking directly outside each villa.
Last Words on the Ultimate Uluru Travel Guide Australia
Visiting Uluru has always been a bucket list dream and one that well and truly lived up to the hype. The thrill of seeing the rock for the first time and the sheer size will always stay with me as will the time worn scars that tell the tale of 550 million years.
If you have time make sure to tack on a trip to Alice Springs, the city embraces the pioneering history of the region and reminds us that Australia is filled with vast empty spaces.
We have fallen in love with the Northern Territory’s red centre, the colours and textures of this arid land have filled us with joy and will stay in our memory forever.
Have you visited Uluru or Alice Springs? What are your favourite memories of your visit? Feel free to leave a comment.
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