Uluru under a rare cloudy sky! We were fortunate enough to see the heavens open and watch the rain strike this majestic monolith. It made the surface of the rock glisten and shimmer and really teased out the wildflowers and greenery in the surrounding desert-scape.
Uluru is more accessible now than ever and is doable in a long weekend due to both Virgin and Jetstar flying direct into Connellan airport (all via Sydney) which is mere kilometers from the rock. We took our tent and sleeping bags on the plane and checked one large bag to keep costs down. Just remember to pack your tent pegs into your checked luggage as they won’t let you past security if you carry the tent pegs in with your tent as cabin baggage!
Hotel prices at Uluru are outrageous however you can camp at the Ayers rock resort campground for $38 a night for 2 people. You can get flights for around $170 from the gold coast so it makes this spectacular part of the country well and truly more affordable than it used to be.
Ayers rock is part of the Kata Juta national park which covers an area of about 1400 km2. The best way to get around is to hire a car – a 4wd is not necessary, we had a tiny little toyota and it was fine. Book early because they can run out of cars and make sure you arrange a pick up right from the airport. Be aware that most companies charge a per kilometer fee which can really crank up the cost especially if you drive out to Kings Canyon which is about a 600km round trip. Most of the per km charges we saw were around 25c per km which really adds up quickly! We used Apollo for our car rental and they had a pickup at the airport and we didn’t have the per km charge!
Apollo did not allow us to drive after dark because of all the accidents with animals at night. So be aware of this it really is quite dangerous and most car companies will not cover any damage if you have an accident between dusk and dawn!
To access Ayers rock and the magnificent Olgas you need to buy a pass for the Kata Juta national park. You buy this at the park station on the main road into the park. It is $25 per person for three days. There is a cultural centre close to the rock which is worth a look.
Around the rock itself there is a choice of 4 walks. We did the base walk and I recommend it however be prepared to veer a long way from the base around particular sacred sections. It is a 10.6km loop and takes about 3 and a half hours. If you have less time at least do the Lungkata trail which takes about 1 and a half hours and incorporate the Kuniya walk which includes the magical Mutitjulu water hole. This is a very special place and it is worth waiting for other visitors to disperse so you can have a few moments to yourself. The Mala walk is also quite lovely and definitely recommended.
Climbing the rock?
It rained the whole 3 days we were at Uluru and so the climbing track was closed due to it being slippery and dangerous. This removed the moral dilemma for us as to whether we should climb Uluru or not. For arguments for and against this click here.I am not going to try and sway you either way!
So to recap:
2. Take your tent and sleeping backs on the plane but pack your tent pegs in your checked bag!
3. Check one big bag with all your stuff.
4. Camp at the Ayers rock resort Campground saving you approximately $300 per night in accommodation costs.
5. Book an Apollo car rental to avoid per km fees.
6. Spend at least day at the rock soaking in the energy, the history and the wonder and do as many of the walks as you can!
More to come including the Olgas and King canyon in my next blog!