Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) is one of the main draws of any backpacking stint in Australia. However, you have to earn your stripes with this one as it’s in the middle of bloody nowhere. Although everyone visiting Oz seemingly wants to see it, only a small portion of the backpackers every make simply because it’s such a mission to visit. When I was there, it was a huge priority for me and it may have cost me a bomb but it was well worth it. Let’s have a look at your options on how to visit Uluru:
How to get to Uluru: There are two ways to visit Ayers Rock in Australia.
Either you bring your own transport, or you don’t.
Public Transport: From the east coats or west cost (Perth, Sydney, Melbourne etc.) you’ll have to fly, either to Alice Springs Airport (5 hours from the rock) or Uluru airport (15km from the rock but only Qantas fly and it’s very pricey). These flights don’t come cheap, there’s no such thing as cheap airfare to Uluru so be prepared to spend upwards of $500 for the return flights. Ouch!
What I did: Flew Sydney to Alice Springs and booked a 3 day tour which picked me up in Alice Springs, this is a common choice and if you don’t have your own transport it’s the easiest thing to do too.
With your own transport: Ayers Rock is roughly at the centre of Australia, and is about 1800km from Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin and Perth. Driving to Uluru from the East cost takes around 4 days, so be prepared. Direct from Sydney for example, in perfect conditions, requires 35+ hours driving, so on 9 hour driving days, that’s 4 days!Top up with petrol and every available opportunity and make sure you’ve got provisions, people die every year from lack of preparation. Once you get to Alice Springs, it’s a walk in the park.
Anywhere from around Sydney, I’d recommended taking the great ocean road and heading via Melbourne and Adelaide, give yourself about 5 days for this.
Should you climb Uluru: In my opinion, absolutely not. Uluru is a sacred site and the Aboriginal owners ask you to respect their law and not to climb it. The climbing route is a sacred path of spiritual significance that is only taken by few Aboriginal men on special occasions. I certainly opted not to climb it.
However, there is no law against climbing Uluru. So ultimately it’s your choice. Uluru is 348 metres high (that’s a 95 story building). The climbing path is about 1.6 km long and can be pretty treacherous. The first part has a chain to hold on to. It is a very strenuous climb (most of the over 35 deaths at Ayers Rock were due to heart attacks) and takes about two hours to complete. If you are fit I’d say half an hour up, half an hour across the top, some time spent up there and the way down.
Also, the option to climb Uluru is often closed due to high winds, excessive temperatures etc so don’t get your heart set on going up. Often it’s not even possible. Oh, and the Australian Government have been talking about banning all climbing anyway so this all may be a moot point soon regardless!
Instead you can walk around the whole rock, the ‘base walk’ is about 10km and takes around 3 hours. Just bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
When’s the best time to visit Uluru: If you just want to see the Rock then the Australian winter is best time (April to October) because the temperature is cooler and the tropical climate is dryer. The area is often plagued with millions of flies (literally, it’s crazy) but in the Ozzie winter there are a lot less.
That being said, I went in the peak of summer so it was 40 degrees in the shade! Still awesome though! Regardless of when you go, sunset and sunrise at Uluru are two amazing sights to behold, it really is mesmerizing.
Kata Tjuta (also known as “The Olgas”) is a collection of 36 variously-sized rock domes 36km to the west of Uluru. Here you can take the ‘Valley of the Wind’s Walk’. The walk consists of a single path to the first lookout point. From this point, the walk enters further into Kata Tjuta, where a loop trail brings you to the second lookout point, it takes about 3 hours in total so leave the flipflops at home guys.
Ok folks, that’s Uluru for you. I had an amazing time there but it certainly doesn’t come cheap. With the strength of the Australian dollar, without your own transport you’re looking at a minimum of $700 to visit it (flights included) but it’s well worth it. It had been a dream of mine to visit Uluru and it was worth all the effort, happy travels!