My adventure started quite a long way from home :
- Kuala Lumpur fly to Darwin
- Darwin fly to Alice Springs
- Rent car and drive to Ayers Rock
- Drive to Kings Canyon
- Drive back to Alice Springs
- Drop car and fly back to Darwin
- Pick up another car in Darwin
But that's another adventure in the Northern Territory (coming soon!). Really the best way to see Australia is by car. All you need is full tank of petrol, loads of drinking water, sense of adventure and plenty of time as it's a big, big country!
The Greyhound/McCafferty buses come into Ayers Rock Resort and pick up folks who wish to travel to Alice Springs from Yulara. (I think there are 2 or 3 such buses a day) Mine picked me up outside the Pioneer Lodge. The journey takes about 5-6 hours with a change of buses mid-way through at this lonely stretch in the middle of nowhere (very surreal). I grabbed the 12.30pm bus and I reached Alice Springs at about 6pm. Along the way, I was treated to scenes of the vast emptiness of the Australian desert (red-orange as far as you can see) and possibly one of the most beautiful sunset I have ever had the fortune to enjoy as the day slowly died away, setting the sky and clouds on fire. I sat in stupor as I watched the ambers slowly fickled away and finally darkness came to claim victory. It was a very beautiful way to end the day after my 31st birthday.
The bus journey cost me A$74 (circa 2003).
There is a free shuttle bus inside the huge resortplex of Ayers Rock Resort, allowing you to move from section to section. There is a bus-stop practically outside each accommodation so all you need to do is to find a comfortable place to sit down and wait for the bus. The wait usually lasts a maximum of 15-20 minutes.
I saw Uluru by taking Northern Territory tour called the 3 day Uluru Safari. The first day we visited Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). The second day we went to Uluru and the third day we went to see Kings Canyon. At night we slept in camp grounds, where we had the option of sleeping in a tent or in a swag. I slept in a swag which I recommend. A swag is a large sleeping bag with a mattress inside. You put your sleeping bag inside it and you are all set for the night. There is nothing like sleeping outside with the stars. We heard some animals in the distance, like dingos, but nothing to worry about. My guides for the tour were Rew and Jess. They were great guides, tons of fun, Rew kept us laughing the whole trip.
Just to add to previous comments about Uluru Express, I found that they were the cheapest and most flexible way to get around if you don't bring your own car. I also took some guided tours of Uluru and the Olgas, and found these tours overpriced -- if I had just taken Uluru Express shuttles everywhere on my own, I would probably have attained close to the same benefit as I got with the guided tours.
as the resort is some distance away from Uluru you will need some form of transport, we used Uluru Express, not only were they the cheapest option but they were the most flexible, as we didnt want a `guided tour`
the shuttle picks you up at your hotel and takes you to Uluru leaving you free to walk and explore at your leisure, they operate from sunrise to sunset
they also operate a service to Kata Tjuta [ the Olgas ] or you can combine both sites
If you are backpacking through Australia, the best value and best way to see Uluru (Ayers Rock) is through Mulga's Adventures. They offer a 3-day tour that also visits the Olgas and King's Canyon, called the Ayers Rock Experience. It costs about $250 - $300 AU and is well worth it! The drivers are great, and you make plenty of friends, in addition to seeing some of the best sights in Australia. If Drasko is still a driver there, try to get on one of his trips.
The trips start at Annie's Place in Alice Springs, which is also a great hostel to stay at, with cheap food, a great staff, and air conditioned rooms.
To travel from Alice Springs to Uluru and back I chose Kings Canyon, Ayers Rock and the Olgas Tour with Adventure Tours which was great. In 2000 this two-day trip cost me AUD240.
Tour departs from Alice Springs 5.30am daily. Maximum number of people on the tour is 22. Transport fully airconditioned small bus.
Drive through the James & Waterhouse Ranges
The Hugh & Finke river systems
Climb and explore the spectacular Kings Canyon North and South walls, the Amphitheatre, Lost City and the Garden of Eden
Journey to Uluru for overnight camp
Sunrise and optional climb of Uluru
Base Tour and visit the Aboriginal Cultural Centre
Tour returns to Alice springs Approx 7.00pm
A straightfoward tip - hire a car! For about A$60 -70 per day (taking into account insurance, petrol etc) you can hire a standard new saloon car. It is so worth it!
We paid approx A$140 for the 48 hours we were at the Park. As we arrived lunchtime and departed lunchtime, we had two sunsets and two sunrises as well as any other visits we wanted to take.
A simple excursion out of the resort was a minimum of A$80 per person running to full day trips at around A$200 per person. Maths and your own freedom would make it obvious what the best thing is to do!
Rent a car to move around in Uluru National Park is the best way to save your money and time. Ths cost about A$95 per 24 hours.
3 hours flight from Perth and Sydney.
The flight is almost full, must make your flight confirm in advance.