The best things to do at Uluru – Australia: A complete guide. Everything you need to know about visiting one of Australia’s most famous sites.
The best things to do at Uluru
If there’s one reason people flock to Australia’s Red Centre, it’s to see Uluru. And rightfully so. As one of Australia’s most famous landmarks, seeing Uluru up close for the first time is a jaw dropping experience. We spent 3 days in and around Uluru, but could have easily spent more days exploring the area. There’s plenty of things to do here, depending on your interests. We’ve listed the what think are the best things to do at Uluru below, along with some additional options and information.
Witness Uluru at sunset & sunrise
Sunrise and sunset are both key times to see Uluru in all its glory. As the sunrises and sets, the rock glows different hues of orange and red for which it is famous for. Of the two, we preferred sunset.
During our visit, the sky had a nice smattering of clouds, which illuminated shades of pink and purple as the sun dropped, contrasting beautifully against the red hues of the rock. Most people, ourselves included, head to the popular sunset viewing carpark for this experience. There’s plenty of parking spots here, however it gets really busy during peak travel times so it’s possible to miss out on a parking spot. We recommend getting there early, setting up some chairs and having a beer whilst you wait.
Although this is the official sunset viewing area, there are nicer and quieter places to watch the day turn to night. Drive a short distance past the viewing area and you can pick any spot to pull up along the side of the road! Just make sure it’s not along the yellow lines and that you don’t wander into the vegetation. After getting some snaps at the sunset carpark, we found a great spot along the roadside with better, unobstructed views.
There is an official sunrise viewing area which most people head to. Unlike the sunset viewing area, the sunrise viewing area is made up of kilometres of walking tracks and one viewing platform perched on a hill. If you’re into photography, you’ll definitely need to get to the viewing platform early to claim your spot as it does get busy. There is one space to the right corner of the middle of the platform from where there’s unobstructed views of Uluru with Kata Tjuta in the background. We think this offers the best views but despite arriving in the dark, well before sunrise, someone was already there. We underestimated the size of this whole area, so recommend arriving really early to navigate your way around and find somewhere to hunker down!
It’s safe to say we got a little unlucky on our sunrise visit as the cloud cover blocked the sun a little too much after the sun rose. As a result, we didn’t get to see the rocks colours changing in the morning light. But we still think its worth visiting for sunrise and would recommend to everyone.
Do the Uluru Base Walk
One of the best things to do at Uluru is the Base Walk. There’s nothing quite like seeing Uluru’s changing shapes and textures close up and from every angle! Starting at either the Mala or Kuniya carparks, follow the flat track 10.6kms right around the rocks base. As Uluru is a sensitive sacred site for the Anangu people, photos are restricted at certain points. You’ll need to start the walk early in the hot summer months before the temperature soar and take plenty of water with you. There are toilets and drinking water available from the Mala Carpark and a secondary water station located half way around the track.
Explore some of the shorter walks
If the 10.6km Base Walk seems a bit too much, you can always do some of the shorter section that make up the Base Walk. These include:
- Mala Walk: 2km return (Grade 1 – Easy)
- Kuniya Walk: 1km return (Grade 1 – Easy)
- Lungkata Walk: 4km (Grade 1 – Easy)
- Liru Walk: 4km Grade (Grade 1 – Easy)
Depending on the walk, you’ll see Aboriginal rock art, caves, waterholes and the beautiful textures that make Uluru so special. Learn more about the Anangu people by joining the free daily guided ranger walk along the Mala Walk. Departing at the Mala carpark, the free guided walk lasts about 1.5hrs, departing at 8.00 am (October – April) and 10.00 am (May – September). Otherwise, complete the self guided walk by following the informative signs along the way.
Take a scenic flight
One of the best ways to experience Uluru is from the air. Activities like this is usually don’t fit into our backpacker budget and when they do, we generally cringe at spending this much cash! But for the penultimate night of Our 14 Day Red Centre Road Trip, we decided to splash out and book a flight. There’s a few different companies to choose from along with different flight options. We booked the ‘Uluru & Kata Tjuta Sunset Grand View Experience’ with PHS and it was amazing. We didn’t quite get the clear sky that we were hoping for, but the experience was amazing all the same. If you can stretch your budget, we highly recommend a scenic flight over Uluru.
Visit Kata Tjuta (The Olgas/Mt Olga)
Kata Tjuta, also referred to as The Olgas or Mt Olga, is located within the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park, approximately 50kms from the Ayers Rock Resort. Although it’s a 40-45min drive from Uluru, it’s worth taking the detour out to Kata Tjuta. Aside from seeing these stunning dome shaped rocks from various viewing platforms, we definitely recommend doing the Valley of the Winds walk, along with Walpa Gorge. For us, this was one of the best things to do near Uluru.
Read the full blog: Hiking the Valley of the Winds – Kata Tjuta
Other things to do at Uluru
Although we think that the best things to do at Uluru are listed above, there are a few more options available:
- View Uluru by a Camel Safari
- Cruise around Uluru by hiring a bicycle
- Witness the Field of Lights
- Experience the Sounds of Silence
- See Uluru by a Segway Tour
And in case you are wondering, climbing Uluru was permanently closed in October 2019.
Entrance fees to Uluru
Although many of the major attractions in Central Australia are free, unfortunately Uluru is not one of them! You must obtain a Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park entrance pass, which can easily be done online at Parks Australia. Passes cost $38 and are valid for 3 days, giving access to both Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Alternatively, annual passes are available for $50. It is possible to buy tickets at the entrance to the park, however, during peak times, there can be long queues which may delay your visit. Therefore, we recommend purchasing your pass online.
Where is Uluru
Uluru is found within the Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park, which is located in Australia’s Northern Territory state. The park is situated in a region referred to as the Red Centre or Central Australia. The nearest township is Yulara, which is a small town catering to tourists visiting the park and other parts of Central Australia. Yulara is located approximately 25kms drive to Uluru.
Getting to Uluru & Kata Tjuta
If you’re booking a flight to Central Australia, there are 2 airports near Uluru – Ayers Rock Airport and Alice Springs Airport.
From Ayers Rock Airport
The closest airport to Uluru is Ayers Rock Airport, located about 30kms from Uluru and 8kms from Yulara. From the airport, the best way to get around is by hiring a car. There are only 3 rental car desks at the airport which are Hertz, Thrifty or Avis. Hiring a car offers the most flexibility and allows you to travel at your own pace. It’s worth noting that you will pay a premium location surcharge here and the cost of car rental is higher here than at Alice Springs. Fuel in this part of the Australia is also very expensive at almost $2p/l for diesel.
If hiring a car isn’t for you, there’s a couple of other options available:
- You receive free airport transfers if staying at the Ayres Rock Resort.
- From the Ayres Rock Resort, jump on the Hop on Hop off Bus which visits both Uluru & Kata Tjuta. This is the next best way to visit Uluru at your own pace.
- Join an organised tour
From Alice Springs Airport
The Alice Springs airport is located about 15km from Alice Springs and about 460kms from Uluru (about 4.5-5hrs drive). From the airport, the best way to get around is by hiring a car. This again offers the most flexibility, allowing you to travel at your own pace. There are more car rental companies to choose from in Alice Springs and rental prices are generally cheaper. Fuel is also cheaper in Alice Springs than Yulara, at around $1.40 p/lt for diesel.
If you don’t want to hire a car, AAT Kings or Emu Run operate shuttle buses between Alice Springs and Yulara. From the Ayres Rock Resort in Yulara, jump on the Hop on Hop off Bus which visits both Uluru & Kata Tjuta
Visiting Uluru via organised tour
There are several companies operating short tours to Uluru, Kata Tjuta Kings Canyon and the West MacDonnell Ranges. These are great if you are short on time, prefer to be in a group environment or just want someone else to organise everything for you! Check out tours from Intrepid Travel, Emu Run and Adventure Tours Australia.
Where to stay when visiting Uluru
There’s limited accomodation options available when visiting Uluru. In the small town of Yulara, the only place to stay is the Ayers Rock Resort. Within the resort there’s a range of accommodation options available, from camping grounds, apartments to hotels.
Other budget options include:
- Camping at Curtains Springs approximately 100km drive from Uluru. There’s cabins available along with free camp sites. Showers cost $4.
- You could also camp at the FREE roadside stop around 40km drive from Uluru.
Best time to visit Uluru
Visiting Uluru is possible all year round. Each season offers different temperatures and a different experience.
In our opinion, the best time to visit Uluru is between May-September. Theses months offer cooler temperatures, typically reaching a maximum of 20°C and 30°C during the day. The cooler weather makes it much more pleasant and safer for hikes and walks. There’s generally little rain during these months too. Overnight temperatures however can get super cold. So make sure you pack some warm clothes! The parks wildflowers are usually blooming between August and September.
Daytime temperature can exceed 35°C between October to March, making it extremely hot and uncomfortable. These months also see storms and rain which can result in waterfalls flowing off Uluru. If visiting during these months, make sure you drink loads of water and don’t attempt any walks after 11am. Many people have become dehydrated and by doing this, so it’s really important to stay safe during the heat of the day.
It’s worth noting that these summer months also bring masses of flies to the area! Buying a fly net to protect your face will help so you to stay sane! These can be purchased on your arrival.
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