The great thing about Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is that there is truly something for EVERYONE’S travelling style. From adventure, to luxury, to budget and it’s not hard to get the big bucket items ticked off in a few days! Here are some ESSENTIAL tips and tricks to make your ultimate Uluru trip!
For us, 4.5 days was perfect and a relatively relaxing trip in comparison to our previous road trips – this meant we could easily fit in MULTIPLE sunrise/sets in Uluru and Kata Tjuta, along with a trip to Kings Canyon, which I think is HIGHLY WORTH especially because you’re already making the effort to fly out so far. That said, we could have squeezed our trip into 4 days for those on a tighter timeline, or if you skip Kings Canyon, then a trip to just this massive red rock could warrant a 2 day trip.
Everything in Uluru is monopolised by Ayers Rock Resort located in the tourist town of Yulara – you can pretty much ONLY book through their Voyages website. And when I say tourist town, I mean it, Yulara is about 10 minutes away from Ayers Rock Airport, and 20 minutes from the rock, whose SOLE PURPOSE of existence (no offense) is to provide about 10 different accommodation options with restaurants, spas, pools, tour operators etc. for those taking a trip to Uluru. If you come to Uluru, you can ONLY stay in here.
But this doesn’t mean there aren’t a huge variety of options to stay in. Budget options range from camping (not recommended in the 40 degree heat though… not sure how you would survive) well under $100 per night to the honeymoon-level LUXURIOUS Longitude 131 degrees up to $1.6k where you wake up to floor-to-ceiling windows watching the sunrise over Uluru, that is reminiscent of the stereotypical wooden bungalows in the Maldives overlooking the ocean.
REMEMBER when you stay in Yulara, YOU CAN’T WALK TO THE ROCK – unless a 5 hour, 16 kilometre stroll in the Australian dessert is your vibe.
The temperature gods were in our favour because when we took a stab in the dark and booked tickets for JANUARY – a low season time in Uluru we knew to expect 40 degree + temperatures everyday, with the park closing closing at 9am to prevent heat exhaustion. But in a COMPLETELY unexpected turn, the rain on our first day meant we ended up with temperatures in the cool and balmy mid-20s, with us resorting to use heating at night when the storm raged outside. Also as Uluru is NOTORIOUS for its tiny, annoying flies that STICK TO YOU, we had fly nets ready but apparently the week before we came was TOO HOT that the flies couldn’t even survive so lucky us again 🙂
Otherwise, if you go in summer, it’s REALLY IMPORTANT to plan your itinerary so that you start your hikes around dawn or even earlier, because I guarantee – firstly, you won’t be allowed to start later, and secondly, you will literally be a crispy, charred potato chip.
Flying into Ayers Rock airport is the most convenient option, Alice Spring is a good one day drive away on a decent 4WD vehicle, whereas there are almost daily flights from major Australian cities that land here.
Rental car is our favourite way of getting around, and with a group of 4, it’s definitely the cheapest. But in comparison, prices here are quite high, and get ready for the highest fuel prices you’ve seen in Australia – I’m talking $2.10 a litre for unleaded. PRO-TIP if you go to Kings Canyon, the Kings Creek Station fuel pump is actually quite a bit cheaper than Yulara at $2.00 a litre. 4 WD is NOT NECESSARY because the roads here are probably some of the EASIEST you’ll ever drive, like I’m talking a baby learner driver could probably cruise down the road at 100 kph and not expect to encounter any problems – there are minimal cars, wide lanes, and NOT A SINGLE traffic light! But if you’re making the long trip to Alice Springs, then you need a 4WD because part of the road is unsealed.
For solo travellers or non-drivers, there are plenty of tour operators with their own coaches, and also a hop on hop off bus that takes you into the National Park for $49/day.
As expected, there is just a single IGA that has most groceries one would require and honestly it’s not as overpriced as you would think. We happily lived off garlic bread for breakfast that left our Ayers Rock Campground cabin smelling a delicious toasty and cheesy aroma every morning. There are plenty of different restaurant options, and from award-winning fine dining options, such as Arnguli and Uluru-based outdoor dining experiences like Sounds of Silence (which Tourism Australia LOVES marketing) and Tali Wiru costing well over $200 per head that makes it seem like a worthwhile splurge for some special celebration in future. Otherwise, cheaper options include Outback Pioneer BBQ, Gecko’s Café and Ayers “Wok” (haha) – about $20 for a bowl of stir fry noodles.