If there’s anything that has become a worldwide icon of Australia, it’s definitely Uluru. The massive rock sitting in the desert in the centre of the country is the world’s largest single rock monolith. It marks the spiritual heart of Australia, with strong ties to Aboriginal culture and history. To experience the magic of Uluru, you have to see it for yourself.
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Inside and outside of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, there are amazing things to explore. If you’re yet to visit the sacred landmark, check out these phenomenal experiences to spark your Uluru wanderlust.
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Is Uluru Worth Seeing?
In short, yes! It’s an absolutely magical place that you have to experience in person to truly appreciate. Photos just don’t do it justice!
Uluru at a Glance
How big is Uluru? How tall is Uluru? In photos, the giant rock definitely looks pretty massive but how big really is it? For starters, it’s 348 m tall, which is comparable to the height of the Eiffel Tower. The large oval shape is 3.6 km long and 1.9 km wide, with a circumference of 9.4 km. With a circumference of nearly 10 km, Uluru can be circled in about 3-4 hours.
Where is Uluru Located?
Uluru is located in the southern part of the Northern Territory in Australia. It’s located in an area filled with dry desert plains where red dirt dominates the landscape. It’s no wonder they call it Australia’s Red Centre. The nearest major town to Uluru is Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway.
How to Get to Uluru
Alice Springs may be the nearest major town, but dont be fooled by its close proximity on the map. It takes around 5 hours (470 km) to drive from Alice Springs to Uluru, and that’s on sealed roads.
The small town of Yulara is much closer at 25 km away. The town is home to Ayers Rock Resort, which pretty much dominates the town. It has a regional airport with daily flights to Uluru from Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Because of the distance, many opt to fly or take a road trip out of it on the famous Red Centre Way.
Common Distances to Uluru Within Australia
Adelaide to Uluru: 2 hour flight / 17 hr drive
Brisbane to Uluru: 3 hour flight / 32 hr drive
Darwin to Uluru: 2 hour flight / 19.5 hr drive
Melbourne to Uluru: 2.5 hour flight / 25 hr drive
Sydney to Uluru: 3 hour flight / 29 hr drive
Best Time to Visit Uluru
The best time to go to Uluru is from May-September. The days are fresh and warm but comfortable at 20-30°C with very little rain. This makes for good hiking and exploring weather with vibrant colours and wildflowers dotting the park. That said, it can get pretty chilly at night in the peak of winter with temperatures dropping down to 0°C, so be sure to pack extra layers.
Uluru is located within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The park is home to as Uluru or Ayres Rock as well as Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas, another rock formation located some 30kms from Uluru. Entrance to Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park requires a park pass. The pass is $38 and grants you entry for 3 days—an ideal amount of time needed to visit both rock formations, enjoy all the walks within the park and catch at least one sunset or sunrise in the park. If that’s not enough, you’ll be pleased to know that the 3-day pass can be extended for free for anoth 2 days, giving you a total of 5 days to explore the park.
The grace extension period is not widely advertised, but ask for it at the ticket kiosk and you should have no problems. We definitely took advantage of the extra days during our visit!
Best Things to Do in Uluru, Northern Territory
Uluru has a stacked bucket list of extraordinary activities to explore, from riding a camel to sipping champagne at sunset,
See Uluru/Ayers Rock in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Any Uluru visitor should tick off their list by visiting Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. We recommend getting up close and personal with the rock by doing the 10 km Base Walk either on foot, by bike, or on a fun Segway Tour. Whichever adventure you choose, you’ll learn a lot from the experience about the nature, wildlife, and local Anangu culture of the region. The walk takes anywhere between 2.5-4 hours to complete and is best done in the early morning to avoid the heat of the day!
Our Tip: Do the Base Walk in the counter clockwise direction. This way, you’ll get to enjoy the best parts of the walk at the start of the 10km trail, get a chance to grab some great photos, before reaching the other side of the monolith, where sacred sites dominate the landscape and photography is largely prohibited.
Short on time? There are a couple of other shorter walks that may offer a good alternative.
The ranger-guided Mala Walk is a great alternative to the Base Walk. This guided walk allows you to discover more about the geology and traditional custodians of Uluru (Ayers Rock). You’ll journey through caves and admire Aboriginal rock art before reaching Kantju Gorge. The walk is 2 km and can be done with a ranger guide or as a self-guided trek.
Other walks include the Kuniya Walk to the Mutitjulu Waterhole and the North-east Face Walk that displays creation stories sacred to Anangu culture.
Note: Uluru is a photographer’s paradise but it’s very important to respect the cultural beliefs of its traditional owners. The Anangu people request that visitors are mindful of signs indicating what can and can’t be photographed.
The best way to experience the magic of Uluru is to see it at different times of the day. Watching it light up at sunrise and sunset is a colourful feast for your eyes. Expect fiery red and orange tones to light up the sky and the monolith with it. The sight is magical!
Visit Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
The other incredible landmark in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is the large domed rock formation called Kata Tjuta, or The Olgas. Kata Tjuta is the word for “many heads” in the local Pitjantjatjara language. Kata Tjuta is located 30 km from Uluru and is often an overlooked spectacle. The soaring domed rocks are actually taller than Uluru with the peak, Mount Olga, sitting at 546 m tall.
There are two sacred walks around the Olgas that boast stunning views and celebrated history. Our favourite is the Valley of the Winds Walk, which takes 3-4 hours to complete. If you don’t want to embark on the full circuit (which can be challenging in areas) there are shorter tracks leading to the two breathtaking lookouts.
Similarly, the Walpa Gorge Walk follows a flower-laden canyon around rocky ledges and trickling streams. Plus, it’s one of the few places in the national park where you can see wallabies!
Just like Uluru, the Olgas light up with the sun throughout the day and illuminate in vibrant shades of red and orange. Catching the sunset over the Olgas is an absolute must for any trip to Uluru.
Our Tip: Go a bit past the crowded sunset spot, park your vehicle on the side of the road and you can watch the sun set over Kata Tjuta without the crowds. Just be sure to respect the park notices and protect the vegetation, by not going beyond the road onto the grassy areas.
What Else Can You Do in Uluru?
Field of Light
Filend of Lights at Uluru is an extraordinary masterpiece of twinkling lights that has gained international recognition. This magical installation of 50,000 beautiful solar powered lights spans more than 7 football fields. You can wander through the glass spheres in the early hours on a Sunrise Tour or catch the evening glow at sunset. For an extra special experience, you can also join a Field of Light Dinner for a 3-course menu paired with delicious Australian wines and panoramic views.
Sounds of Silence Dinner
Spend an evening under the star-dotted Outback sky dining on local fare with the sound of didgeridoo in the background. The Sounds of Silence Dinner pairs champagne and canapes at sunset with a 3-course feast. You’ll get to admire the sheer beauty of Uluru as night falls and the sky lights up with stars. While we didn’t get to experience this magical dinner, friends of ours did and they raved about the experience! Their tip: Just make sure that the weather forecast doesn’t call for rain, or this magical experience will quickly become a very unpleasant one.
Sunset Camel Ride
Another fun activity at Uluru is ending a desert day with a sunset camel ride. If you are lucky, you’ll witness Uluru and Kata Tjuta changing colours from a unique vantage point. You’ll learn about the flora and fauna of the region while meandering through the dunes atop a camel from the Camel Farm.
Visit the Camel Farm
Sure, you’ve heard of horse racing, but camel racing in Uluru is certainly unique. The Camel Farm is home to Australia’s only camel track where racers ride camels every May for the Uluru Camel Cup. The farm is worth a visit to witness artisan saddle making, or for a chance to sip a cold drink at The Royal Mail Hotel or the iconic Old Tom’s Waterhole.
If you happen to be in Uluru during the annual Camel Cup, be sure to attend! It’s an event like no other. Expect camel racing, outback games, dancing, fashion shows, and more! And of course, if you are feeling lucky, don’t miss the opportunity to bid on a camel during the Camel Culcutta and try your luck at winning a big payout if your camel finishes in the top 3.
Free Cultural Activities in Uluru
One of the best things about Ayres Rock Resort is that they offer a number of free and fun activities for both adults and kids. Here are a few that were taking place at the resort during our visit:
Bush Food Experience
Dive into the culinary world of Indigenous Australians with the full Bush Food Experience. The presentation that takes place in the Arkani Theatre at the resort allows you to legain an insight into how local Indigenous groups have been hunting, gathering, and preparing their bush tucker for years. The cooking demonstration at the end applies some bush techniques and ingredients into yummy treats!
Paint Your Own Australian Animal
Similarly, you can create a one-of-a-kind Uluru souvenir at a Paint Your Own Australian Animal workshop. Choose from a variety of animal stencils to create a colourful masterpiece that will always remind you of your visit.
Watch an Astronomy Documentary
If you’re keen to marvel at the stars, visit the Arkani Theatre to watch the astronomy documentary, Capturing the Cosmos. The talk is all about the role that Australia plays in this fascinating field of science.
Join a Didgeridoo Workshop
If peaceful music is more your thing, join a Didgeridoo Workshop to try your hand at playing one. The workshop details the history of the uniquely Australian instrument with a cultural performance and takes place right on the grass in the town centre of the resort.
Finally, end your visit with a lovely walk through the gardens with an expert guide. You’ll learn about local flora and fauna and how Australians have traditionally used these for medicine.
Where to Stay in Uluru
Yulara is the closest and only town within 100km of Uluru. The town is home to Ayers Rock Resort, which offers accommodation options to suit any budget and style.
Ayers Rock Resort
There are a number of accommodation options at the resort ranging from camping and glamping to hotels and apartments.
Sails in the Desert: The most luxurious accommodation at Ayres Rock Resort is Sails in the Desert. The hotel features 228 lavish rooms paired with a swimming pool and restaurant.
Desert Gardens Hotel boasts jaw-dropping views and lush on-site gardens. The hotel is a desert oasis and the only place where you can watch the sunrise at Uluru right from your window.
Emu Walk Apartments offer a more private experience in the modern suites close to all the town amenities. These are perfect for families with full kitchens, bedrooms, and living areas.
The Lost Camel Hotel is a boutique-style hotel with a swimming pool and amazing Aboriginal artwork. It’s an intimate luxe accommodation option in Uluru.
The nearby Outback Pioneer Hotel offers a laid back experience at more affordable rates. This theme is echoed at the Outback Pioneer Lodge, which features dorm-style rooms and an outdoor Outback BBQ.
Ayers Rock Campground is probably the biggest and most popular accommodation at the resort as it offers hundreds of powered and unpowered campsites, along with cute desert cabins. In the high season, the campground tends to get booked up pretty fast, so if you are traveling in a caravan and need a powered site, we recommend booking early. Otherwise, you can pull up at any time without a reservation and stay at their Overflow Area.
We stayed at an unpowered site in the overflow section and had a great time during our visit. It’s a very social space, so we met new friends and got to know a lot of other campers around us. Personally, we prefer this over other campsites in the resort since you have more space and all facilities are still nearby. Just note that the generator can be a bit loud if you’re not in a self-contained vehicle.
Other FAQs & Essential Info
Getting Around Uluru
The grounds at Ayers Rock Resort are easy to navigate on foot as everything is within 15 minutes walking distance. There’s also a free shuttle bus that makes its rounds around the resort and to the airport.
However, there is no shuttle to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. You’ll need a vehicle, which you can hire in Alice Springs.
There is an IGA at Ayers Rock Resort, along with some souvenir shops and a few restaurants if you need groceries or supplies. You can visit the resort—also known as the town of Yulara—even if you’re not staying there.
How many days do you need in Uluru?
We recommend spending at least 3-5 days in Uluru to see the sites at your own pace. If you’re short on time, you can see the highlights in 2 days but it’s far better if you’re not rushed.
What is there to do in Uluru for 3 days?
The most popular itinerary for visiting Uluru is 3 days where you can see most of the top things. Spend day 1 in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park at sunset or sunrise and day 2 at the Olgas for sunset. Enjoy day 3 checking out the other activities noted above. This will line up perfectly with your 3-day park pass.