The largest sandstone rock on the planet, the red centre of Australia and some of the most majestic natural sights in the world. This giant rock is as old as time and of massive cultural and spiritual significance to the native aboriginal people. Located 335 km from Alice Springs, and while the main attraction is Uluru it is far from the only thing to see in the area. So what else is there to see in the area? The National Park is a UNESCO world heritage site and home to Uluru, The Olgas (Kata Tjuta), many different types of flora and fauna, ancient caves that showcase cave paintings of an indigenous population that is over 50,000 years old… And I could go on!
The 550 million year old monolith is home to 46 native species of mammals, plenty of reptiles, and even amphibians. Believe it or not there are even 4 species of frog that are abundant at the bases of Uluru and the Olgas. While not so common in the dry winter, they can be found living a vibrant life in and after the summer rainy months.
So while you are drawn to the region by Uluru, there is so much to see while you are there!
As a lot of people know as of October 2019 the Uluru Climb is closed which means your only ways to see it are to hike around it, drive around it or our favourite way; fly over it!
It is being closed for a variety of reasons from safety, to preserving the natural structure of the landmark. The most significant reason being it is sacred to the local indigenous people and simply put, it wouldn’t be acceptable to climb a church for fun so it shouldn’t be to climb Uluru for fun.
The first thing we need to tell you about visiting this area is that you do need a good few days to see it all. A good length is 3-5 days. Just to ensure you have enough time to take in a few of the magnificent sunsets, hike around the 348m tall monolith, visit the Olgas and if you are one of the lucky ones catch a scenic flight of it all.
Most of the accommodation is listed on the official resort website which includes camping from around $43 per night all the way up to the more expensive luxury accommodation for a few thousand a night. It is important to note that all of the accommodation is more or less all part of the one complex. This was done to minimise any damage done to the surrounding environment and ecosystem.
It is also useful to note that the temperature can vary out in the desert dramatically. With peaks of around 45 Celsius during the summer days, and lows of -3 Celsius in the winter nights. So if you are going to camp make sure you have some good clothing and camping gear to keep you warm during the cold nights.
Ayers Rock is a sacred place to the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people. To them it is not just a rock but a sacred site that was created at the beginning of time. According to the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people it was made by great ancestral beings. That being said Uluru os only one of about 40 different sites in the Kata Tjuta National Park that is sacred to the traditional land owners. The other prominent sacred site in the region is Kata Tjuta or The Olgas are a range of incredible rock formations that are situated in the same national park as ayers rock. There are a wealth of walking trails around these massive structures that make for a special adventure. The aboriginal culture surrounding these says that an ancient king lived atop them.
Along with the sacred sights there are a number of dreamtime locations also. It is something that is not really understood by people that have not grown up in the culture. The dreamtime is said to be at the beginning of all time when the spirit ancestors created the world. This is something that you can often see depicted in their art.
This is a must do when you are visiting the area. In most cases it is not hard, just set an alarm and walk out the door of your accommodation to marvel at the colour changes as the sun rises. There is also a lot of great viewing areas around the rock itself. The reason it is an absolute must to do is because the colour of the stone changes depending on the intensity of the light that is shining on it. When standing on the eastern side of the rock the during sunrise you will see the colours change from a dark, crimson red to a bright red. From the same side as the sun is setting it goes from the normal colour becoming a bit pink and almost reaches a purple before it becomes a total silhouette. Quite an incredible sight, the biggest silhouette on Earth perhaps?
Uluru is a remote place so it can be hard to make your way there. Below are some of the ways that you can get to Uluru to experience this great place.
There are commercial airline flights from almost all Australian Capital Cities to the red centre. If there isn’t you can make a connection. While this is a quick way to get to the final destination you might want a more scenic adventure by driving. Depending on where you are it will cost anywhere from $300 to $900 to fly there. The airport is located just a 10 minute drive from the Yulara resort. Which makes it very easy to get to your accommodation!
There are bus trips from many cities and regional centres. Some of them lasting a few days to a week will take you from your starting point to the red centre. With a heap of sensation stops along the way! You will get to sit and relax and watch as the landscapes change into the great Australian deserts!
If you love the open road, then drive there! If you are driving there it is interesting to know that you will be using part of Highway 1. Which is the longest highway in the world. At a staggering 14,500 km long it connects all the Australian Capital Cities including Hobart (you just have to make the connecting barge). This makes it possible to drive from Hobart to Uluru without ever having to leave the highway! It is important to carefully plan you trip if you are going to drive. As you can end up stranded and many miles away from the nearest petrol station and grocery store.
The site Uluru is located on is 515m above sea level. The top of the monolith itself is 348m above the desert. Which mean that Uluru stands 863m above sea level. Which is really just a long way of saying it is 348m tall. It is also interesting to point out that this is taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris. And The Great Pyramids of Giza and the Statue of Liberty. In fact if you put the Statue of Liberty on top of the Tallest Pyramid of Giza, Uluru is still taller!
Uluru is actually not the biggest rock in the world, while it is the biggest monolith in the world. The actual title holder is Mount Augustus over 1000 km away in Western Australia. But geologists still debate this point. Who would think people argue about who has the bigger rock!?!
The best times to visit we would say are between March and October, simply because it is not as hot during those months.
It does not matter what time of year you visit. You will need comfortable cool clothing for the days and warm clothes for the night. This is because the deserts don’t get much cloud cover. So all the heat escapes at night and comes in during the day. It is also important to have some good sunscreen and some insect repellent.
Short answer: YES!
Uluru is the indigenous name and Ayers Rock is the name it was given by British settlers. When the monolith was surveyed by William Gosse he assigned it the name Ayers Rock. In reference to the Chief Secretary of South Australia, Sir Henry Ayers in July of 1873. Since then both names have been used.
According to some geologists the amount of Ayers Rock that you can see from the surface of the desert is only one eighth. The rest of the sandstone monolith is actually under the ground! It can be kind of mind blowing to know that the bulk of the structure is actually underground!