One advantage of a 3D/2N package with tours (which I did) is that you get the relevant narration and explanations of the sights that you see. Otherwise, like a young woman in Sydney said of Ayer's Rock: "it's just a rock" and "there's nothing there", otherwise! ;-)
With such narration/explanatory notes on every nook and crevice on the famed rock, I began to see the meaning and significance of everything to the local aborigines - it all made sense! So much so that I was enchanted by "the rock"! If you see my Uluru pages you might appreciate what I mean..
Yes, appearance-wise, the Olgas may look more interesting. But aboriginal culture/story-telling wise, Uluru took so much more meaning, at least to me! :-)
Fondest memory: See my Uluru pages? :-)
Favorite thing: About 4 km south of Yulara on the Lasseter Highway, you come to the Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park toll booth. The Park 3-day use fee is 25 AUD per person. From the toll booth, it is 9 km to the sunset viewing area for cars, 13 km to the Cultural Center, 15 km to Uluru, and 48 km to Kata Tjuta (Olga Mountains). There is also a sign telling you whether the Uluru climb and the Kata Tjuta Valley of the Winds Walk are open. Please note that, although it is not forbidden except under bad conditions, the Aboriginal people ask that you not climb Uluru since it is a sacred site for them. There are also safety and environmental reasons.
Uluru is only a rock, but what a rock!Please be aware that Uluru is now often closed for climbing, due to the sensitivity of the local indigenous people and safety considerations. So don't expect to climb Uluru. It was always extremely dangerous anyway. Each year there were deaths from the climbing. This is a tragic fact of the steep and difficult climb and many tourists being not up to the effort and not admitting their lack of fitness. The walk around Uluru is easy and has plenty of points of interest. The round trip takes about two hours for fit people in a hurry, but can take three and a half / four hours if you like to dawdle.
Please note ; The Olgas are under rated so go for a wander around them, always take water.
If you wear glasses, even sunglasses, consider having a strap or strong thread connecting them around your neck. If you knock the glasses off when swatting at flies, you can lose or break them. Sunglasses are highly recommended in the Outback of Australia, all year round.
Consider a mesh face protecter that can hang from your broad brimmed hat. It may look unfashionable, but is a great way of protecting yourself from flies and sunburn.
Fondest memory: The vastness of the flat desert contrasts with the huge lump of Uluru, which is sitting at ninety degrees to the position that it was laid down hundreds of millions of years ago. What mighty force tipped this humongous rock on its side? How big was it when it was made ???
Also the red dust of the area for hunrdeds or thousands of miles around Uluru is the same stuff that Uluru is made of.So the erosion of millions off years has not erased this mighty rock from existence. The walk around Uluru is very good. Get there early, especially if travelling during the hotter months.
Go in the winter!
I went to Uluru and hiked its diameter on June 17... which is midwinter in Australia, practically the shortest day of the year and cooler than usual.
The black flies everyone complains about were practically non-existant. I didn't even notice any buzzing around until the last km of my 9 km hike around the rock when it was about midday. They were nonexistent at night at the sounds of silence dinner. I can't imagine doing the hike or the dinner with a net on and dozens of flies trying to go up my nose. Not a problem in the more winter months.
It was still very hot, another reason I can't imagine going in the summer. It was a nice warmish day oon my hike, even needed a light jacket until the end where the midday sun made it HOT. The night was cold, so do wear sweaters and jackets. multiple. But if you are at the sounds of silence dinner, there are heat lamps outside Sit under one and you'll be fine in a couple of sweaters.
Right at the main entry area to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta lands is a lodge, the Yulara Outback Lodge. There are also a couple of "malls" with grocery stores, snack shops and clothing outlets. This area is the civilized part of the park.
We were stuck around the Yulara Lodge one afternoon on our way BACK to Alice Springs. Due to the complications that often arise when travelling in the Outback, we had to wait about six hours for a bus service back to Alice. The folks at Yulara were friendly enough, but theres one very negative thing... You cannot buy a beer or any alcohol unless you are STAYING at the lodge. It's the rules laid down by the Anangu owners of the area. Gotta admit that it made very little sense to me, as a couple of beers would have made the hours go by more quickly.
One thing that IS nice is that there are public showers...we found it quite refreshing to slip over for a quick shower to get some of the Uluru camping dust from our bodies. I"m not sure if we were "allowed" to use these showers, as we were not guests. But enforcement on the showers is much more lax than the serving of alcohol.
Fondest memory: I can't imagine staying at the Yulara Lodge. If you came this far, you'd want to go out to Uluru itself and camp. And if you're into luxury camping, there is one place (Latitude something or other) that will feed your need for foo-foo camping and Zen to the tune of about $800 a night. But if you do want to visit the Outback Pioneer Lodge, to to www.voyages.com.au
Yulara itself is just a motel, albeit a clean and friendly one.
Then again, had we been stuck there for the night, I suppose I would have checked in and then RAN (not walked) back to the bar.
To visit Uluru or The Olgas, you have to have a park pass. They cost $25AUD and are good for 3 days.
I found that sometimes you can get a free "used" park pass from visitors that are leaving early. Some people only go for one day, so their park pass is still good for 2 more days.
The passes have an expiration date on them. The holder is supposed to print their name of them, I suppose to prevent the pass from being given to others.
Standing at the campground office waiting for a bus, I found that campers checking out would offer me their un-expired tickets.
So if you are on a really tight budget, then perhaps you can ask people checking out if you can have their ticket. They are easy to spot because they park their vehicals on the outbound lane and run into to check out of the office.
Although it is a little hazy as to whether or not the Aboriginal people saw this image and they made Uluru a sacred place. The image of the Mala man on the side of Uluru was instantly the first thing I noticed when I went to the Uluru sunrise tour.
Since I am sure that most Aboriginals did not have mirrors, do you think they knew this looked like them?
Points to ponder... in the meantime definitely turn up to Uluru to enjoy a sunrise, and a sunset!
One of the most intriquing things about Uluru is that from every angle and every direction, you will get a completely different view.
I really liked this position, because of so many different angles and colors of the rock at the same time. Rocks, fizzures, slow slopes, and then abrupt edges all together.
Make sure you take the opportunity to walk up close and also see it from far away, so you can see everything that is Uluru!
One of the most interesting things to learn about Uluru is actually why it has its red tinge to it.
The reason is because this is actually a grey rock with a high amount of iron inside it. When iron reaches the surface, it oxides, and Iron Oxide is better known as.... rust.
So this entire rock really is just one large rust-bucket!
If you walk up to the rock, feel free to actually rap your knuckles on a little of it, and you can feel a distinct hollowness to the top layer of the rock!
One of the great sites while looking at Uluru was the sighting of this cute little pigeon, known as the Spinifex Pigeon which is indiginous to the Northern Territory.
I can not find out too much more information about the pigeon on the internet to share here, so I guess it is best to just enjoy the picture of him!
Spinifex Grass (Spinifex Sericeus) is one of the best protectors in Australia's outback. Very painful to the touch because of its long stalk, then the sheer size and abundance of it throughout the country makes it the perfect way to keep the sand from blowing!
In addition to keeping the sand down, and poking larger animals and humans as it passes, it is also the home and shelter to many of the outbacks small animals who can burrow under it.
In my personal opinion - the rock is best at sunset.
I saw the rock both at sunrise and sunset.
It's freezing cold in the mornings and you have to get up really early
(and if you are not a early riser - i'm talkin like 5am) you're not going
to amused. We saw the sunrise after the sunset and it was dissapointing,
I was cold and tired and then had to go on a walk through the olgas - of
course in no time it got really hot and i had to take all the layers off that
I had worn in the morning.
Needless to say - the sunset is amazing - take lots of photos. The rock
really does change colours it is fantastic.
The amount is A$16.25 (circa Jun 2003) and is valid for 3 consecutive days. Children under 16, could enter the park for free.
Jun & Jul: 6.30am - 7.30pm
Aug: 6.00am - 7.30pm
Sep: 5.30am - 7.30pm
Oct: 5.00am - 8.00pm
Nov: 5.00am - 8.30pm
Fondest memory: You can email:
for more info.
The following are some general information on the Park and how to contact if need to do so...
Park use fee is AU $25.00 for Adults. Children under the age of 16 get in for free. The ticket is valid for 3 consecutive days at Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
The park opening hours are different on a month to month basis.. In Dec, Jan and Feb the park is open from 5am to 9pm. in March, 5:30am to 8:30pm. In April, 6am to 8pm. In May, 6am to 7:30pm. In June & July, 6:30am to 7:30pm. In Aug, 6am to 7:30pm. In Sept, 5:30am to 7:30pm. In Oct, 5am to 8pm and in November, 5am to 8:30pm.
The information Desk opening hours are from 8am to 5pm and they can be reached by phone by dialing +61 8 8956 1128 and by Fax +61 8 8956 2360 and by email firstname.lastname@example.org or their website www.deh.gov.au/parks/uluru
The cultural center hours are from 7am to 6pm
Location of Uluru or Ayer's Rock is about 335 km (450 road km) South West of Alice Springs.
The park itself is 1325 square km which is pretty huge and it includes the Olgas as well as the Ayer's Rock.
Uluru is 348 meters above the plain and 863 meters above sea level. Our tour guide told us what you see of the Ayer's Rock is actually 20% of the rock, the remaining is under the ground which is pretty amazing.. The rock's circumference is about 10 km.
There are 25 fauna species of mammals, 74 reptiles (thorny devil being my personal favorite), 178 birds and 4 frogs in the park.
The temperature can go up to 45 degrees Celsius (113 F) during summer and can drop down to -5 degrees Celsius (23 F) on winter nights.. The average rainfall the park sees each year is about 308 millimeters which is not very much at all be it a desert :) In the heat of the summer days, everyone should protect against the sun UV rays as it is pretty extreme on most days so don't forget to bring your UV BLOCK....