Ayers Rock: as majestic as you imagine. No, better.
Named after Sir Henry Ayers by William Gosse in 1873, tourists with a sense of adventure – and Aussies whose life mission it is to finally tick this place off their bucket list – are the kind of like-minded souls you’ll meet in Uluru.
Let’s cut to the chase: Ayers Rock was created over some 600 million years, originally sitting at the bottom of a sea – incredible to imagine as today it stands 348m above ground. Another gape-worthy fact: around 2.5km of its bulk is in fact underground.
Located west of the Simpson Desert, it’s about 335km south-west of Alice Springs, and 463km by road. It’s one of the most imposing natural wonders on the planet, but not the biggest: Mount Augustus in Western Australia is the winner of that title.
There is so much to experience in this vast, world-renowned expanse. It almost didn’t make the cut on Oprah Winfrey’s epic Australian itinerary, until music icon Paul Simon told her she simply must visit. Oprah took his advice, and found her connection to the Indigenous community was one of the most important spiritual experiences of her life.
Things to do
Uluru is a walker’s heaven. The Liru Walk opens in new window is the area’s second-longest hike, and it’s a 4km jaunt (1.5 hour) from the Cultural Centre to the base of Uluru, showing off NT’s native flora and fauna along the way. The Mala Walk, meanwhile, is a stroll that takes you to the edge of the beautiful Kantju Gorge.
The Ayers Rock Resort Campground opens in new window has backpacking, caravanning or camping accommodation to suit the back-to-nature traveller. Tent sites, powered sites and air-conditioned cabins are located within the Ayers Rock Resort complex. It’s the perfect base from which to discover the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
That iconic image you’ve seen of white tablecloths, full glassware and crockery, with the Red Centre as the backdrop? You can do it! It’s called the “Sounds of Silence” opens in new window and it is four hours of bliss. The food and drink is just part of the evening: canapés, a three-course “bush tucker” buffet, beer, wine, non-alcoholic drinks, tea, coffee and port, then desserts. But also thrown in are Indigenous dance and didgeridoo performances, a guided night tour and return transfers to your hotel. It operates daily and can be booked 24 hours prior at a rate of AUD $195 (adults) and AUD $96 (children from 10-15 years inclusive). Also see their website for info on guided camel rides (AUD $295 per adult, and AUD $147.50 per child).
This has to be top of the list. How long does it take to walk this red beauty? The Uluru base walk is a 10km hike along a flat dirt path, and takes three and a half hours to complete. Sturdy walking shoes are a must! There are various walking tours opens in new window to choose from, pick the one that suits your ability.
Under one roof
The Ayers Rock Resort opens in new window offers self-contained apartments and lodges, you can also access incredible experiences such as dot painting workshops, 4WD cave tours and bush tucker tours. You can even learn traditional bush skills and hear stories from a local Anangu guide.
Ayers Rock Resort 6km
Travel time 10 minutes
Bus Complimentary shuttle buses to Ayers Rock Resort meet every flight
Taxis not available
Car hire Available at the airport and resortBack to top
When to go
Ayers Rock has a desert climate, with average temperatures ranging from approximately 22°C (72°F) in winter to 35°C (95°F) in summer. However, nights and mornings during winter are cold – the monthly averages for June, July and August temperatures are between 4°C and 6°C, so definitely pack warm clothing. Be mindful, too, that because of the lack of rain it is also the dustiest time of the year. In spite of this, the colder months see more tourists flocking to Uluru to avoid the heat. April and September have been identified as the months when tourist numbers are down, perfect for non-fans of crowds.
Daytime temperatures during summer can exceed 40°C (104°F), so packing heavy-duty sunscreen and a hat is imperative. The summer months of December to February also bring torrential tropical storms.
There are events all year round, and highlights include the Ayers Rock Resort’s Astronomer in Residence Program in November, as well as the free Weekend Sundown Sessions from June until October.Back to top
There are no public buses operating from Connellan airport. There are, however, several bus options opens in new window. A free bus runs every 15 minutes from the airport to resorts and hotels in the Uluru area until 12.30am every day. There is also a free shuttle from the airport to Ayers Rock Resort (three hotels and one camping ground). And if you want to take the shuttle direct to Ayers Rock itself, unguided, you can: the fee is from AUD $60 return, and you can stay as long as you like (fees also apply to enter Ayers Rock).Back to top