In May 2019, I took my Grandmother with me to Uluru as we were lucky and got cheap flights with Jetstar. We decided to go for a long weekend and left Friday morning from Sydney and came back Monday evening. We left Sydney at 10am and flew direct to Ayers Rock Airport. Both Jetstar and Virgin Australia fly daily directly into Ayers Rock Airport from Sydney. Flight time is around 3 hours. The flight itself shows some absolutely stunning landscapes. We flew over Lake Eyre and were lucky to see it actually with water! A small amount of water fills Lake Eyre every 3 years, with a large flood every 10 years and completely full only 4 times each century!
Uluru is the second largest Monolith on Earth! It is 348 meters high above the sea level and approx. 2.5 kms of it is believed to be underground! It is also estimated to be around 600 million years old. The first human settlement around Uluru was thought to be over 10,000 years ago! It was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Uluru was named “Ayers Rock” by Europeans in 1873 when William Gosse gave it its title after Sir Henry Ayers, the Chief Secretary of South Australia at the time. The landmark has been officially known as “Uluru / Ayers Rock” since 2002 and stands as one of the few dual-named geographical features in Australia.
This place is absolutely magical and should be on everyone’s list when visiting Australia! When you arrive at Ayer’s Rock airport, there are options to hire a car. There are also shuttle busses waiting to take you to your resort. These are free, you just walk out the front doors and there are buses waiting. Look for the sign of the hotels on the boards in front of the bus and jump on board. These are complimentary services provided by The Ayer’s Rock Resort.
We stayed at the Lost Camel Hotel in the Ayer’s Rock Resort! The resort itself is made up of 6 hotels/apartments and a pub. There is a free shuttle bus that is constantly looping around the resort area, although it is all flat and easy to walk around. There is a beautiful viewing platform in the centre that is perfect for Sunrise and Sunset and Star Gazing. There are all kinds of options for accommodation here, from 5 star all inclusive at Longitude 131, from $3000 , min 2-night stay, to the campground- where you can stay on an unpowered site for as little as $43 per night. There is something for everyone here and I suggest booking in advance directly through the Ayers Rock Resort website- https://www.ayersrockresort.com.au/accommodation . There are some great deals and offers available through here for 3-night getaways, and the customer service team is fabulous to deal with if you have any questions.
When you arrive at Ayer’s Rock airport, there are options to hire a car. Please note that it is more expensive to hire a car here at the airport than in downtown. You MUST book in advance, especially if going over a weekend. We did book our car in advance and lucky we did, because when we arrived and went to collect our keys, there was a line of unhappy people who didn’t book in advance and there were no cars left. I did quite a few comparison quotes and they were all very similar in pricing, but I booked directly through Ayers Rock Resort Official Website as they offered unlimited kms. There is one Shell petrol station in the town centre, and the car must be filled back to full before returning the car. The best thing is that even if you pick up a car downtown, you are able to return and do a key drop at the airport.
Parking is free everywhere and there is plenty of it. There is a large carpark behind some of the hotels and IGA, some around near the Outback Pioneer Lodge and on the streets. Hiring a car is a great idea too, for easy driving to Uluru, Kara Tjuta and Kings Canyon! The National Parks pass is $25 per person for 3 days and is required if wanting to visit Uluru and Kata Tjuta ( The Olga’s ). Entry is free for kids under 5. The rangers do patrol the area inside the National Park, so please do the right thing and make sure you purchase a pass per person to avoid a fine! You can pre purchase your pass below: https://book.parksaustralia.gov.au/passes/uluru/
Note that the National Park hours change during the seasons. This is the most recent time table direct from their website.
For driving around Ayer’s Rock and surrounds, the roads are all sealed and suitable for even the smallest car . The car that we had was a Mitsubishi ASX and was very comfortable and great on fuel consumption. We made full use of having the car and drove into the National Park every day. The town centre is approx. 20kms from Uluru.
The rock itself is so much bigger than I thought ! It stands taller than The Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower !
Watching the sun set over Uluru is a magical experience, watching the rock glow, and change many different colours as the sun sets. Something not to be missed ! Pack a picnic and some champagne and watch from the Sunset Viewing Car park! The car park strip is much longer than you think, so don’t grab the first park you see. It is always really busy/full as you first enter, but there are loads of car parks down towards the exit of the car park. The best part about this car park is that there are no big tours busses , they’re just not allowed. In fact, they have their own area for viewing, which is further away than the car park. I would still recommend getting there early to grab a good spot, especially if you plan on doing a photo shoot/using a tripod.
You can exit the car park and continue to drive closer to the rock, and you may wish to pull over on the side of the road. This is fine to do so in some areas, read the road signs and stay out of the grass/shrubs as this is all off limits . There are plenty of viewing platforms before the Sunset Viewing Car park if you wish to pull into one of those, the view is equally as stunning. Here is a time lapse video that I took from the Sunset Viewing Car park. It really is amazing!
To play this video, view this post from your live site.
Note that the flies are horrific !! So, purchase a fly net for your face before heading out there, or buy one at one of the many souvenir shops for $10. They’re super attractive as you can see
The choices are endless for lots of fantastic tours and things to see out here, but the cultural centre is a must ! It talks about how the Aboriginals live, how they hunted for food, kept warm and survived! It also talks about the important of not climbing the rock ( this walk officially closes on the 26th October this year- however it is extremely frowned upon for people to walk up the rock , please read the background information before deciding to do this ). Besides the fact that it is considered extremely disrespectful to climb the rock, the walk itself is actually pretty dangerous. 37 people have died since 1950. Some of the reasons why the climb can be closed includes when the temperature reaches 36 degrees or above during summer, when there is a greater than 20% chance of rain within three hours, when there is a greater than 5% chance of thunderstorms within three hours and if the estimated wind speed at the summit reaches 25 knots or above.
There are many fantastic walks around the rock itself and personally, once you get up close to this big beautiful formation, you will get this incredible spiritual feeling over you. Take 5 minutes to sit or stand and just immerse yourself in all the beauty that is standing right in front of you. I think that it is incredible important to learn about the culture and just how significant the rock is to the traditional people, the Anangu People. There is a local community nearby, this area is off limits to tourists. Please respect this.
One of the activities that i would highly recommend whilst it’s still showing is The Field of Lights. It is an art display of 50,000 solar lights that has now been extended until December 2020 and well worth visiting ! You can do the sunrise or sunset tour, but you must book with a tour, you cannot drive here and do/see this yourself. We did the sunrise tour where you finish by watching Uluru change colours as the sun comes up, enjoying a cup of tea or coffee to keep warm. The pick up time is 105 minutes prior to sunrise from Ayers Rock Resort , so you are able to have plenty of time to explore in the dark. We booked direct through AAT Kings, $75 for adults, $38 for children and $68 for concession, and this includes transfers to and from your hotel. You must book in advance to avoid disappointment. Here is the direct link if you would like to make the booking: https://www.aatkings.com/tours/uluru-ayers-rock/sunrise-field-of-light/
Kata Tjuta, or ‘The Olga’s’ are another incredible landmark located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. To drive here from the Ayers Rock Resort complex, will take around 45 minutes (55kms) Remember that if you are visiting here from the town centre, you must cross into the National Park where you will need to scan your pass to get in past the boom gates. Remember that everyone in the car must have a pass even if you are only scanning the one pass, as rangers patrol the roads and viewpoints. The drive out to The Olga’s Is stunning, once you turn right and head down the long road to get there, you can see Uluru to the left and The Olga’s to the right. There is a fantastic viewing platform about 20kms away from Kata Tjuta that gives you incredible panoramic views of The Olga’s and is a great spot to stop for photos before continuing to the start of the walking track.
We spent Mother’s Day weekend out at Uluru and on Mother’s Day we decided to do the 20 minute scenic helicopter flight. It was such an incredible experience and one i would strongly suggest doing. The company picks you up from your hotel and takes you to the departure point. There are 5 seats in the Helicopter alongside the Pilot. Every seat gives you a stunning view. Uluru is officially a No Fly Zone , so you can’t fly over it, but you can fly around it. You can also see Kata Tjuta from above and all of the land around. The time felt like it was longer than 20 minutes, and was certainly a great way to get a better perspective of the size of Uluru. We booked through Adventure Free Bookings and the cost was $150 each. There are also options to do a scenic plane flight if you prefer over a helicopter.
Once again. A truly beautiful part of the world, that will leave you speechless. A part of the world so immersed in culture and tradition and it is important that we acknowledge the Anangu people of the land whilst visiting Uluru and Kata Tjuta.