In those posts I showed beautiful pictures of the amazing scenery, punctuated every so often with our smiling faces.
In reality, it was more like this…
Yes we went round the whole time with these nets on our heads, occasionally whipping them off for a quick photo before quickly putting it back on again. Yes we looked like dicks (you will blend in with everyone else), but without them you have got flies on your face, trying to fly in your mouth, have a party up your nose, practice tap-dancing in your ears… it is revolting. So here is my first tip to make your visit to Uluru way more enjoyable:
Tip #1 – Buy head fly net thing as soon as you land!
They cost about AUD$10.00 for one, or AUD$15.00 for two. You can get a variety of different colours too, Andrew chose orange, and I had nude… Unfortunately when the sun shines on the net, it makes it really hard to see, so we found that wearing our caps over the top helped to alleviate that problem. Apparently the flies aren’t that bad all year round – we travelled in April, but I am not sure when the fly reason runs. The bonus is that they disappear when it gets dark, and they don’t seem to come inside.
Tip #2 – Rent a Car
We hired a Toyota Corolla car from Thrifty Rental Cars, which cost us AUD$40.00 per day for four days. This includes 100km per day, and we ended up doing about 900km, so we paid an extra .28c per km – or about another AUD$150 on top of that. Plus fuel – about another AUD$120.00
So a total of AUD$430.00 ish for our four days of transportation. Compare that cost with what it would have cost for us to do it with one of the tour operators:
- Airport transfers – free (there are no taxi’s)
- Kings Canyon – day trip, transfers and walks – AUD$219.00 per person
- Uluru Sunrise and base walk – AUD$145.00 per person
- Uluru Sunrise – AUD$99.00 per person
- Uluru Sunset – AUD$59.00 per person
- Kata Tjuta Valley of the Winds walk – AUD$145.00 per person
We did two sunrises and two sunsets, so if we had paid for a tour operator instead of taking our own car it would have cost AUD$726.00 per person – or AUD$1452.00 – so about AUD$1000 more expensive!!
The roads are wide, flat and easy to drive on – it is sealed all the way to Kings Canyon, and we got to do our own thing, and not be dictated by a bus schedule.
Uluru is about 15km from the town, so it isn’t something you can easily walk to from your hotel!
Yes we probably missed a bit of commentary – but the free Cultural Centre inside the park gave us lots of information, as did all the signs all around Uluru.
Tip #3 – Things to do
Sunrise and sunset at Uluru is not to be missed. The colours are amazing. Uluru and Kata Tjuta are located in the National Park. It costs AUD$25.00 for a three day (72 hour) pass and you can buy this at the park entrance. Be prepared for the crowds of people…
Visit the free Cultural Centre in the park, to get a better understanding of the history and significance of this place to the Aboriginal people. There is also a cafe in the park at the Cultural Centre.
In the town there is a free cultural theatre, a museum, and an information centre which are all worth a look. There are also a few souvenir shops and a bank in the shopping centre, and further down the road there is a medical centre and a petrol station.
There is an astronomy centre too offering night sky tours, but we didn’t do this. Again we have been spoilt by the absolute darkness of being at sea with so many stars
Base track – you can walk or cycle around the base of Uluru on a flat sandy/shingle track. Walking on your own is free – cycling cost us AUD$45.00 per person. It is about 15km and it took us about 3 hours to ride around (which looked like much more fun than walking), stopping for lots of photos and to read the information boards along the way. You can also drive around it on the road, or you take take a tour on a coach, ride round it on a Harley Davidson, fly around it in a helicopter, even ride a camel past it.
There are some sacred sections where they ask you not to take photographs. The markings on the rock depict various legends. They also ask you not to climb Uluru, but people still were. It is super steep and we chose not to climb, it just felt like the right thing. You don’t see people climbing all over other culturally significant sites around the world…
Kings Canyon is spectacular and is a three hour drive away. You can do a number of different walks or just relax at the Kings Canyon Resort. There is fuel available, a bar, restaurants and a small shop for supplies. Kings Creek Station and Curtin Springs are also on the way and offer food, fuel, and accommodation.
Kata Tjuta – The Olgas, are about 50km from Uluru. The sunrise here was amazing – better than at Uluru in my opinion. There are a few walks here as well – see below, and less people. It is stunning.
Tip # 4 Accommodation
The whole town is owned by one company – Voyages Indigenous Tourism. They have got a college that trains people in hospitality and then employs them in the resort. There is a campground, backpackers, budget hotel, apartments and a couple of flash resorts. Everything is expensive! We stayed at the basic hotel, which was fine but a bit tired, and it was still AUD$240 a night.
The whole resort town was built back in the 1990’s and it all just feels a little strange. It is all spaced out around a ring road, and there is a shuttle that runs around so people can get from one place to the other.
We spent one night at Kings Canyon and three nights at Uluru. We could have spent another night at Kings Canyon, but after three days at Uluru we felt like we had done everything we wanted to. If I was going again, I would get a 4WD car and drive through to Alice Springs – another few hundred km away.
Tip #5 – Eating Out
There is a well stocked supermarket in the shopping centre, where we bought snacks, fresh rolls, ham and cheese to make ourselves lunches. We bought croissants and juice for our breakfasts.
There are a couple of cafe’s/restaurants in the shopping centre and a noodle takeaway shop. All the other restaurants are located within the hotels.
You can buy takeaway alcohol from the Outback Pioneer Resort.
Tip #6 – Hiking
There are some fantastic walks to do – particularly at Kings Canyon around the rim, or the easier option up the creek in the valley below. At Uluru you can walk around the base – about 15km which is flat all the way, or drive to various parts and walk just to the interesting bits – like waterholes etc. There are two walks at Kata Tjuta – an easier Walpa Gorge walk, or the 7.4km loop of the Valley of the Winds which was spectacular.
Start early! We started all our longer walks by 7am to avoid the heat. They close some of the walks by 11am if the temperature exceeds 36 degrees.
Stay on the track. With the huge volumes of people visiting the park every day, if people started trampling over all the foliage nearby there would be nothing left to see. Respect the signs and the cultural significance of the beautiful place you are visiting, and take all your rubbish away with you.
If you are walking make sure you take:
- Decent hiking boots – the tracks are quite rocky and rugged.
- Lots of water – they recommend 1 litre of water per person per hour!
- A reasonable level of fitness. The tracks weren’t overly hard, but in the heat it did become quite challenging.
- Sun protection – sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat etc.
There are some emergency radio stations located along the tracks and there are also a couple of water stations where you can refill your water bottles in an emergency. There are toilets provided in the car park areas as well.
Tip #7 – Bring Lots of Money!
Being so remote, it is understandable that things are going to cost a bit more out here. With the one resort owning all the accommodation, restaurants and many of the tour activities, there is a monopoly on all the people visiting and the prices reflect that. By renting the car, and buying some of our food from the supermarket, we managed to avoid blowing the budget completely.
Tip #8 – Enjoy
This is a spectacular place. Full of spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people. The scenery is amazing, the colours are incredible. The landscape is massive. It is well worth a visit. 🙂