. An Uluru travel guide for budget travelers : Budget Travel Adventures

An Uluru travel guide for budget travelers

Uluru travel guide sunset

The Budget Travel Guides are travel tips to help you save money and enrich your travel experiences.  Many people love Australia.  However, this country offers one of the most unique outdoor experiences in the world.  Linda shares her Uluru travel guide and tips for this famous red rock.

Uluru is Australia’s most iconic landform. Situated in the heart of the arid red centre the majestic monolith rises 348meters (1142ft) above the surrounding spinifex plain. It has a circumference of 9.4km (5.85miles).

Most popularly photographed at sunrise and sunset to capture the rock’s changing hues of rust, crimson and purple, Uluru has much more to offer the visitor than just a souvenir photograph.

Uluru is a world heritage site for both its natural attributes as an impressive geological landform (listed 1987) and for its traditional (Tjurkurpa) significance to the Indigenous Anangu people (listed 1994). The first European to sight it was William Gosse in 1873 who named it Ayers Rock (after Henry Ayers, the Chief Secretary to South Australia). Today it’s known by its traditional name Uluru.

An Uluru travel guide

Now that people are familiar with Uluru, here are some tips to help you save money and how to travel to and around Uluru.

When is the best time to go to Uluru?

April – October are the more favourable months to visit when the days are sunny and warm, and the clear desert air turns crisp and cold at night.

The summer months (November – March) are hot, so activities are best organised for early morning and late afternoon/evening.

Average Monthly Maximum temperatures:

Temp

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

36

35

33

28

24

20

19

23

27

31

34

35

97

95

91

82

75

68

66

73

81

88

93

95

The average rainfall is 307.7 mm (12”) per year

Uluru travel guide - There are areas where the rock folds softly with a surface smoothed by wind and water, and areas where boulders are piled high.

How to get to Yulara at Uluru

Yulara is the name of the resort settlement 8km (5miles) from the entrance to Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park. The Park is open to visitors only during daylight hours – A little before sunrise, to just after sunset each day.  Ayers Rock Resort at Yulara is the sole provider of accommodation for Uluru.

  •  Air to Yulara

Two airlines fly direct into Yulara – Qantas & Virgin.
Fares start at about Aus$250 one-way from Sydney, increasing at prime times and closer to the departure date.
Bear in mind when comparing prices that Qantas include a luggage allowance in the quoted price - whereas Virgin (during the booking process) add on Aus$15 for checked-in baggage (or if you leave it till you’re at the airport – Aus$20). Virgin also charge for refreshments on board – Qantas offer a complimentary drink and snack.

Flying time from Sydney to Yulara is 3 hours, from Darwin it is 2 hours.

  • Road to the Red Centre

Uluru is the central heart of Australia.
As the crow flies it’s between 2000km and 2800km (1250miles and 1700miles) from all the coastal state capitals but by road it’s 2800km (1700miles) from Sydney and 3600km (2225miles) from either Brisbane on the east coast or Perth on the west coast.
Coming by road requires time!

The nearest town to Uluru is Alice Springs (pop 27,480), which is 460 km (285miles) to the north-east.

  •  Rail to Alice Springs

The closest railway station to Uluru is at Alice Springs (460km/ (285miles) so if coming by train you’ll need to make further arrangements for a flight, a bus, a tour or a hire car.

The Ghan (named after the Afghan cameleers who traversed the same route) is one of Australia’s great train journeys traversing the country north – south between Darwin and Adelaide, total distance 2979km (1846 miles), and takes 48 hours, with Alice Springs being about mid way –
A one way fare on the Ghan train either Darwin – Alice, or Adelaide – Alice, starts at Aus$390 for an adult seat, and goes up to over Aus$2000 for a platinum sleeper.

  • Bus to Yulara

Bus from Alice (as Alice Springs is locally known) with AAT coaches is Aus$149 one way

Greyhound offer a 3 day/2 night tour from Alice for Aus$355 incl all meals, camping, and tours of Uluru and Kings Canyon on the way

  • Air & Coach Summary sheet:

Ayers Rock Resort put out this handy pdf summarising air and coach transfers to Yulara.

How to get to Uluru

While the Resort provides a complimentary shuttle bus service for getting to and from the airport, and around the accommodation options, restaurants and shopping square, additional transportation needs to be arranged for getting out to the Rock, which is 18km (11miles) away.

  • Bus to Uluru

The Uluru Express bus service operates a shuttle for Aus$50 return. But if you want to see the sunset or sunrise or drive all the way around the Rock there’s an additional selection of tours to choose from for Aus$60 each.

  • Hire Car

I’d strongly recommend hiring a car for flexibility, convenience and in the end – it is a money saver. There’s a lot to see and do spread over a wide space and a vehicle is the most enjoyable way to make the most of your time, having come all this way.

Vehicles can be rented at Yulara airport, or one way rentals can be arranged collecting and/or dropping off from either Yulara or Alice –

  • Avis Tel: (08) 8956 2266
  • Hertz Tel: (08) 8956 2244
  • Thrifty Tel: (08) 8956 2030

Uluru travel guide Yulara camping ground

Where to Stay

There are seven accommodation options at Ayers Rock Resort.

The starting price for two people on an unpowered site at the camping ground is Aus$36 per night.
The top of the range is 5 star glamping at Latitude 131, which costs in the region of Aus$2,000 per night.

  • Camping Ground Cabins

For the budget conscious the best option after camping (or if you’re not travelling with a tent) is one of the 14 air-conditioned campground cabins that sleep 6 and cost Aus$150 per night.
Here, you also have the advantage of being able to self-cater to keep costs down further.
Cabins are compact with a double bed at one end and 2 sets of single bunks at the other end with a small kitchenette/diner in the middle.
Shower and toilet are in the campground amenities block.
There’s also a swimming pool.

  • Dormitory Accommodation

The Outback Pioneer Lodge offers what they refer to as backpacker dormitory accommodation.

For Aus$38 per person you get a bed in a 20-bed single sex dormitory.
For Aus$46 per bed there are mixed 4-bed dorms (Aus$184 for the room).
Both have shared bathroom amenities and a communal self-catering kitchen. All facilities of the resort are included.

  • 2 star to 5 star

Moving up from this is the:

Here’s a link to Ayers Rock Resort accommodation options

Where to Eat and Drink
  • Self-Catering

The cheapest way to eat and drink is to self-cater.

There’s a small, but comprehensive supermarket in the equally small Yulara shopping precinct. This is the most economical place to buy food and drinks where, considering the distance the products have travelled are competitively priced to the rest of Australia.
Water, out here, should always be top of the list and the supermarket, like the petrol station, sells cartons of water to allow regular water bottle fill ups!

The shopping centre is about a 10 minute walk from the Outback Pioneer Hotel or the Camping Ground.

Uluru travel guide Ayers Rock Resort Map

 

  • Economic Eating-Out Options in Yulara
  • Gecko’s café (and take-away) and the
  • Red Rock Deli (for gourmet sandwiches and snacks) are both in the Resort Shopping Centre/Town Square.
  • At the Outback Pioneer Lodge there is a do-it-yourself Bar-B-Q (meat must be purchased from the BBQ bar).
  • The Outback Pioneer Kitchen offers a cheaper alternative to the Resort’s restaurants/buffets.

Here’s a comprehensive list of Ayers Rock Resort dining options.

 

Out in the National Park at the Cultural Centre the Ininti Café serves light snacks in air conditioned comfort with views to Uluru.

What to Do

Entry to the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park costs Aus$25 per person for a 3-day consecutive pass. The Park is closed at night.

A souvenir hard copy of the wonderfully informative 44-page Visitor Guide: Palya! is given with each ticket.

The iconic view of Uluru at sunset (or sunrise) is just the start of your visit to this remarkable place –

1. The Cultural Centre offers a truly enlightening experience. It is located at a viewable distance to Uluru (about 1.6km (1mile) away), 13km (8miles) in from the National Park entrance.

Built from locally made mud bricks the organic flowing shape represents two ancestral snakes – Kuniya the woma python woman and Liru the poisonous snake man. Their stories are told in the Tjukurpa tunnel as you enter the building – Tjukurpa (pronounced ‘chook-orr-pa’) being the traditional law that guides the lives of the local Anangu (pronounced arn-ung-oo) people.
The Cultural Centre offers a wealth of knowledge regarding Indigenous culture via wall displays and film footage including a film showing an inma (Pitjantjatjara for ‘ceremony’).
Also information on the local flora (over 400 species) and fauna of which there are 21 species of mammals, 73 different reptiles, 170 varieties of birds, and 4 types of frog.

2. Drives

From Yulara to the Rock is 18km (11miles). The drive around Uluru (which is one-way, in a clockwise direction, at the far end) is a further 11km (6.8miles).

Kata Tjuta is 25km (16miles) to the west of Uluru and well worth a visit. Read my post about Kata Tjut

Uluru travel guide map

 

3. Walks

There is a FREE ranger guided tour along the Mala Walk every day at 10am May – September and the earlier time of 8am during the warmer months of October – April. Starting at the Mala car park the ranger takes you part way along the north side of the rock offering insights into traditional Anangu culture and interpretations of rock art seen on the underside of overhangs.

All the walks at Uluru are stunning. Getting up close and personal the Rock takes on many guises, so different from the distant image seen in sunset photographs. There are areas where the rock folds softly with a surface smoothed by wind and water erosion, and areas where boulders are piled high. From a distance one has the impression it sits on a sparsely vegetated plain yet, in places, there are river red gums tucked into its base.
The short Kuniya Walk on the south side is a delight, as you penetrate a gully that opens up to a tranquil waterhole at the Rock’s base – Read my post Did you know there were waterholes at Uluru?.

Uluru travel guide waterhole

  • The Uluru Base Walk is 10.6km (6.5miles) and takes about 3.5hours.
  • Liru Walk from the Cultural Centre to the start of the Mala Walk is 4km (2.5miles) return – allow 1.5hours.
  • Mala Walk to Kantju Gorge is 2km (1.25miles) return – allow 1.5hours
  • Lungkata Walk is 4km (2.5miles) return – 1.5hours
  • Kuniya Walk to Mutitjulu Waterhole is 1km (0.6mile) return – allow 0.75hour

A little away from the rock is Talinguru Nyakunytjaku (‘place to look from the sand dune’), which is an area newly opened up in the park and a perfect spot for watching the sunrise. There are two short walking loops here -

  • Minymaku Walk 1km (0.6miles) and
  • Watiku Walk 1.5km (0.95mile) both lovely to do as the sun comes up over the horizon and starts to warm the rock for the day.
  • Kata Tjuta Walks – There are two walks here – The Valley of the Winds 7.4km (4.6miles) and Walpa 2.6km (1.6miles)

4. Here is a pdf listing additional tour options offered by Ayers Rock Resort for a fee.

5. And a must read link explaining why it is important not to climb Uluru.

Uluru travel guide - The Rock

Who to meet

For a better understanding of the local Anangu Indigenous culture spend some time at the Cultural Centre in the National Park.
There’re also a few shops selling Aboriginal works of art, where sometimes the artists can be seen working on their paintings.

As Ayers Rock Resort is a subsidiary to the Indigenous Land Corporation they have a commitment to employ the Indigenous community. Taking on 50 trainees a year their aim is to be employing 350 Indigenous people by the end of 2018.

There aren’t many places you can say
It doesn’t disappoint‘…

Uluru is one of them!

If you enjoyed this Uluru Travel guide, check out more Budget Travel Guides for Romania, Australia, and more.

Linda Fairbairn

 

Linda Fairbairn founded Journey Jottings in 2004 when she created the first pictorial Australia Journal Map for helping highlight your holiday adventures. Join her on Journey Jottings’ Facebook page or follow her on Twitter.

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RSSComments (12)

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  1. Pretraveller says:

    Thanks Linda for a comprehensive guide to visiting Uluru. I will add it to my trip file…

  2. Uluru’s on my list so I’m definitely bookmarking this page.
    Thanks, Linda!

  3. Simon says:

    What an amazing and comprehensive guide. Apart buying the flight ticket and putting a few things in the backpack, the only thing left is just… going and following all these tips!

    • Thanks Simon!
      I hope this guide does make it as simple as just buying a ticket and throwing a few things in the backpack :)

      I spent ages on line prior my trip trying to ascertain the full range of economic accommodation options not realizing that Voyages are the sole provider so the choice is quite cut and dry – Its camping, cabin or dorm – and then you’re up into the hotel range.

  4. Travel says:

    Really beautiful images. It is better to choose travel guide to visit places like this so that we no need to face lot of problems.

  5. Debbie says:

    Have wanted to go there for a long time — great tips for when we get there! Thank you! Beautiful photos, too!

  6. It was on my list for way too long too!
    But the wait was worth it :)
    Hire a car to really enjoy this majestic monolith and experience the expanse of the outback.

  7. I like the first and the last photo from Uluru, Australia!

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