Uluru is more than 600 million years old. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage area that should be on everyone’s bucket list, but before you dive head first into a trip to the outback, here’s a few tips to ensure you make the most of your visit.
Ayers Rock Airport is the closest spot to fly into when you’re visiting Uluru. Virgin and Jetstar fly in here but if you’re flying Qantas or other aircraft carriers, you’ll arrive in Alice Springs. The city is 450km from Uluru. It’s worth spending a few days in Alice Springs to get used to the heat and to check out the local galleries and museums. If you want to stay closer to the rock, there are plenty of Uluru hotels.
2. Inside the Park
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park covers 1,325 square kilometres. It’s home to the iconic Uluru monolith and the Olgas. You need a pass to enter the park, which can be purchased at the Entry Station or in advance. Children under 16 are free. If you don’t have a car, there are plenty of day trips from Alice Springs which include entry into the park. The standard passes are for three days so make sure you get your pass date stamped when you first enter. The park opens just before sunrise and closes after sunset every night. Check with the rangers for seasonal time changes.
3. Visiting Uluru
Once you’re in the park, follow the signs to Uluru. The Mala car park sits at the base of Uluru. Each day at 8am there is a free Mala walk led by a ranger. It takes about an hour and a half and is good for first timers. If you want to walk around the entire base of Uluru, allow 3.5 hours for the 10.6km loop. You’ll be surprised by the diversity of the landscape. There’s plenty of bushland, birds, even a waterfall if you’re there on the rare occasion it rains. The rock itself is not one solid lump. The pitted surface curves and undulates, with overhangs sweeping along like a wave and enormous boulders sitting at its foot. Make sure you respect the signs designating sacred areas where photographs aren’t allowed. Take plenty of water, a hat and be prepared for lots of flies.