It took more than 6 hours driving from Alice Spring through the red center before we reached the Uluru information center. Luckily we left Alice Springs early that day and arrived just in time to look for accommodation and be at the Ayers Rock aka Uluru for sunset.
Many people asked me if it is worth to travel through half of Australia to see a big sandstone and I always say yes. But it is not only the Uluru that makes this are worth a visit, there is much more.
Uluru aka Ayers Rock
Uluru is one of Australia’s most famous natural landmarks. The sandstone formation is about 20 kms away from the information center where most hostels and resorts are located but you will have a first glimpse of the rock from the outlook platform. I would recommend visiting the rock during sunrise or sunset but always plan a couple of hours after sunset or before sunset to actually get close to the rock and walk around. You will find some nice aboriginal paintings at the rock. Be warned that it’s full with flies and you will get very annoyed quickly, might be worth to invest some dollars into an anti-flies hat.
Many people hike up the Uluru to see the views of the red center from above. The aborigines however don’t appreciate it when people do this as the rock is a spiritual site for the natives who are also the owners of the Uluru. You can already see a mark which is left by the thousands of people who climb up there every year. Here is the official message from the aborigines!
When I travel I always try to respect the wishes of locals and therefore also didn’t climb up the rock. I heard that the view isn’t that spectacular anyways. An alternative to see the country from above would be with a helicopter flight.
Kata Tjuta aka The Olgas
Surprisingly, Kata Tjuta or the Olgas are listed as number one thing to do at the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National park at Tripadvisor. When you drive down the little street from the Ayer Rock toward The Olgas you will see the rock formations already from far away. They will suck you in with their presence in this untouched and dry country. If you have time you should go for a walk through the rocks and visit the Walpa Gorge. It’s a little billabong (water whole) where you will find some amazing animals if it isn’t too busy and you have a lot of patience.
How much time to plan for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park?
Personally I think that two days is more than enough. One day for each attraction should gives you enough time to enjoy both rock formations. I would drive out to Uluru on the first day before sunrise and spend all day there and drive around the country and return for sunset and would do exactly the same thing on the second day at Kata Tjuta.
How to get to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Flying to Uluru
There are two Airlines which offer direct flights to the little Conellan Airport close to the Ayers Rock.
Virgin Australia flies directly from Sydeny and Qantas flies from Sydney, Perth, Cairns, Alice Springs and Melbourne to Conellan.
Driving to Uluru
I would recommend everybody with time to rent a car and drive your way up the red center. The streets are deserted but you will see many little stops along the way. From Adelaide to Uluru it’s about 1600 kms and takes a full day of driving if you don’t stop. I would recommend planning about 4-5 days and drive around 300-400 kms a day.
From Darwin to Uluru it’s 2000 kms. Here I would recommend much longer than 5 days. Take at least a week or 10 days. There is so much to see in the northern Northern Territory.
From Brisbane to Uluru you have to either drive north through Mount Isa or South through Adelaide. It’s about 3500 kms and you should plan a month at least and travel up or down the east coast before taking the Sturat Highway. If you want to surf I would drive down south the east coast since there is not surfing after you pass the Town of 1770 in the north.
From Perth to Uluru it’s 3700 kms and there are also two options. You can either drive south through Adelaide or North through Broome. The Northern drive is very dry with warm weather and beautiful beaches. If you drive along the southern coast you will drive through thick forests and beautiful cliffs.
Bus to Uluru
There are some bus companies and tour operators that provide bus tours up to the red center.