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Uluru / Ayers Rock is one of the world’s natural wonders, and it’s hard to find anyone who’s been disappointed by it.
If you’re one of the many that still have it on your list of places to visit, you’ve got a good excuse:
Uluru isn’t a cheap or easy place to get to.
So when you do go, you’d want to make the most of it.
Here are some things that we wish we’d known before we embarked on this leg of our big adventure:
Uluru is a really long way from Alice Springs
Uluru is 468km from Alice Springs:
That’s you driving for about five and half hours if you have a bladder of steel and don’t need a pit-stop.
To put it in perspective that’s the same as if you drove from the very top of Tasmania to the bottom… then back again… then a few more km’s just for fun.
We towed a caravan with young kids that needed a break, so it was a 7-hour journey.
Get there early if you plan to walk around the base of Uluru
Uluru is big. Really big.
The walk around its base is a long 10.6km, and takes around 3.5 hours.
That may seem slow, and it is. For good reason:
Even though the track is good (even pram-friendly), you’ll be stopping a lot to admire Uluru’s unique characteristics and cultural significance.
You will be lulled into a false sense of security of what you think will be a gentle stroll because the desert mornings can be quite cool.
Before you know it, the day will be heating up.
Walking around the red centre any time after around 11am is not fun (especially if you’ve already been on your feet for a couple of hours).
So leave early.
That being said…
Go to the Cultural Centre first
Uluru is more than just the world‘s largest rock (or some physical challenge to conquer):
It has cultural significance.
Even just the way it was used practically by the Anangu people is amazing.
Stop by the Cultural Centre first.
Because when you walk around Uluru you will have a greater appreciation for each of the many caves, the markings, surrounding vegetation, etc.
Start training now if you’re planning on climbing Uluru
The reason Uluru dominates the skyline is because it’s a whopping 348m high.
- The average 87 story building is this height
- Uluru is almost as high as the Empire State Building (381m)
- The Statue of Liberty is 93m high
- The Sydney Harbour Bridge 134m, and
- The Great Pyramid of Giza 139m
Uluru is also very steep.
People are on their hands and knees trying to summit it.
And crawling backwards to try to get down.
Many people get about 1/4 of the way up:
And then realise it’s not for them.
When we were there?
There were some people that just looked at it and realised it was out of their league.
Plan on staying for several days if you want to climb it
The Uluru climb usually opens at 8am each morning:
It stays closed if it’s too windy.
If it is opened?
Rangers conduct 2-hourly checks and close it if they assess that it becomes risky (windy or any sign of rain).
When we visited the climb had been closed 6 out of 7 days.
There were a lot of sad-campers. People who had allocated themselves one or two days.
The campground was filled with people extending their stay in the hope to scale it.
This may seem overkill, but…
Make sure your ambulance cover (and life insurance!) is up to date
If you plan on trying to climb Uluru you should know that it’s quite dangerous.
Over 35 people have died attempting it.
That’s not to mention the amazing number of people that have been seriously injured or lost a lot of skin sliding down the steep rocky face.
From the Parks Australia website:
The climb is not prohibited but we ask you to respect our law and culture by not climbing Uluru. We have a responsibility to teach and safeguard visitors to our land. The climb can be dangerous. Too many people have died while attempting to climb Uluru. Many others have been injured while climbing. We feel great sadness when a person dies or is hurt on our land. We worry about you and we worry about your family. Our traditional law teaches us the proper way to behave.
Uluru will be closed to climbing from 26 October 2019
The Anangu traditional owners ask that you do not climb.
It will be closed to climbing from the 26th October 2019.
If it’s that important to you?
You now have a due date.
Don’t bother bringing your drone to Uluru – Kata Tjuta
Parks Australia prohibit flying drones in the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park.
The resort township of Yulara is mostly yellow on the CASA ‘Can I Fly There?’ app…
…but the sky is filled from sun-up to sun-down.
There’s hundreds of low flying helicopters, light aeroplanes, and… zeppelins!
* There are a few Sensitive Sites around Uluru where it is requested that you don’t take photos. It was sad to see so many people ignoring this request, especially considering the amount of it you could freely photograph. Please don’t be “that person”
You MUST include The Olgas on your itinerary
Your 3 Day Park Pass also includes Kata Tjuta (also known as The Olgas).
These are magnificent.
If it wasn’t for Uluru then The Olgas would be considered THE natural wonder to come and visit.
This is a pretty special place which has everything from an all access boardwalk to difficult (Grade 4) 7.5km loops.
Prepare to spend a lot of money
The Park Pass is 3 days minimum (no day pass), $25 per adult, or $65 per family.
You cannot camp within the park.
Ayers Rock Resort in Yulara is really the only place you can stay. We paid $30/night for just an unpowered site for our caravan in the ‘overflow’ area (that’s code for ‘red dust paddock’). It was $500/night for a basic room in the resort.
[Accommodation is pretty tight at the moment because there’s the rush to get in before October… check availability on the dates you’re planning and get in quick]
When we filled up in Alice Springs diesel was $1.53/L… and $2.21/L at the one petrol station in Yulara.
That’s why a Jerry Can is one of our Top 20 Items Under $20.
It’s an ongoing debate whether or not you’re paying a premium for their additional costs of doing business…
…or they’re just making the most of a captive audience.
Either way it’s definitely not a cheap exercise.
Is the cost and effort worth it?
If you don’t climb Uluru… is it still worth it?
Our entire family all agree it was special and a highlight of our lap of Australia.
* Different members of our family were divided as to whether or not we should climb. None of us did it in the end because of either personal choice or wind closures.
This is why it’s in this list: The 20 Best Holiday Destinations in Australia
Please share this information with anyone you know who is planning a trip to Uluru!
You might also be interested in our 8 Tips to Help You Plan Your Trip to Kings Canyon