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Exploring the Red Centre with an ‘own’ car is the ideal way to get the most out of your days. We decided to do it one way, which meant from the Alice Springs (airport) to Uluru (airport).
We got the best quotation through the Visitor Information Centre in Alice Springs for a car from Thrifty. They could offer us ‘unlimited km’s’, where we got from Thrifty itself 100 km’s a day free !! Just quite a difference as we drove more than 860 km’s in three days.
There is no ‘one way fee’ if you rent your car for 3 days or longer. In Alice Springs we had to do a lot of paperwork and placed 6 signatures on the rental agreement. And it was rather strange that we could drop off our car in Uluru without any check at all. To fill up the petrol of the car tere is a station in the Ayers Rock Resort.
We rented a 4WD Kia Sorrento, although I’m not sure if it was absolutely necessary to drive the gravel roads in the desert and the Mereenie Loop Road. On the other hand it was quite comfortable having some extra power on bad parts and side roads.
All together we had to pay AUD 376,- for our three days and 860 km’s through the desert. Well worth the money for this adventure.
Central Australian Tourism Industry Association:
Updated Mar 5, 2007
One less conventional way of travelling around is by motorcycle. The view you get is simply breathtaking. Having the benefit of 360 degree vision somehow makes an amazing difference. The cool breeze counteracts the heat just nicely too. I had entered the National Park some 500 times before first going in on a bike during the time that I lived there, and it was like the first time all over again.
There are a couple ways to do it.
1. You could buy a motorcycle in one of the big cities (Adelaide, Melbourne) and ride it up. This is obviously a bit time-consuming.
2. You can also hire a motorcycle (Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail) when you get there. There is motorcycle rental company at Ayers Rock Resort.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Renting a car when at the Rock is the only chance to enjoy the scenery to the fullest. It gives you the flexibility to visit with the bus hordes at dawn without them at sunset and avoid them altogether if you opt for an off-beat visit. Moreover, part of the park is the Olgas and this means that you do not have to stuff everything in one day in order to fit into a “tour”. If you decide to save same serious money by going to Curtin Springs for a sleep, the car comes more than handy since this cattle station is 100km away from the Rock itself.
Written Sep 4, 2007
My friend and I, budget travelers that we are, opted to just take the Uluru Express Shuttle into Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park instead of going with a guided tour group. Compared to the huge air conditioned tour buses, their shuttles are meager Toyota Hi-Ace vans, but they were also air conditioned and were comfortable enough for the drives out to the monoliths.
Our shuttle drivers were very friendly and were extremely knowledgeable about Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and the local Aboriginal culture, so I think we probably learned even more than if we had taken one of the big tours, since we were able to ask our drivers a lot of questions, which I don't think we would have been able to do on the big tour groups.
They have several trip options, and we opted for the drive out to Kata Tjuta and Uluru for sunset viewing, and we also purchased the Uluru at sunrise trip. For the sunrise viewing of Uluru, they also provide hot coffee and cocoa, as well as a yummy assortment of Arnott's biscuits.
In addition to paying for the Uluru Express shuttle, you also have to purchase a Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park park use ticket that is good for three days. The shuttle will stop by the entrance to the park so that you can purchase tickets on your first trip into the park, and you will need to hold on to the ticket for any subsequent visits during the three days that the ticket is valid. When we went in September 2006, the park entrance fee was $25 AUD.
Written Jul 23, 2007
The Ayres Rock Resort has a free shuttle bus from the airport to the resort. I flew in to the Ayres Rock airport with my camping gear and was dropped off in front of the campgound by the bus. Nice of them to do that!
Written Apr 21, 2006
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
Written Jan 26, 2005
Phone: 08 8956 2152
This is a great website for people traveling by car. excelent tips and advice and even a free e-book to help you plan.
Written Nov 1, 2009
If you want to hire a car they are available. . The tours can be expensive so for those who want to go to lots of sites and often, the car is a cheaper alternative.
Theres not the abundance of street signs and directions you're probably used to.So factor that and the the rental costs and fuel costs in , then make a choice.
Unless you're sure of where and how you want to sightsee, or you have a specific need to have a car, you're better off let someone else drive
My opinion is the best way to get around is simply to join a tour. They know where they are going and the commentary is great. I hate reading all those info things. I'd much rather sit back , relax, take me there and tell me all about it.
Out of respect for the owners of this land, we used Anangu tours as our first choice.They deserve to benefit from the tourism and they have more local knowledge for sure.
Updated Jun 14, 2008
I just returned from Uluru. Flew in and camped for 3 days. While there I noticed some other campers had Ford station wagons from "Alice Camp 'n' Drive". I talked to them about what it was and I really wish I had known about them. I will use them next time. The campers I spoke to were very happy with them.
They are a small company in Alice Springs run by two guys. They rent you a station wagon with all the camping gear packed in. All you need to do is buy the food and fuel and head off to explore Uluri and King's Canyon. They told me that the company has a fleet of about 6 wagons.
What the camper's I spoke to liked was that is only cost about $125 a day and they don't have the 7 day minimum like the RV camper companies have. They also liked the fact that the wagons got much better mileage. You can sleep in the back of the wagon.
The wagons aren't brand new. But they seemed in excellent shape. I was very impressed. They seem to have hit upon the perfect solution for people like me who are on a tight budget and have to fly in Alice Springs or Uluru to visit.
Written Apr 21, 2006
Definitely the best way to fully experience the outback is to drive around trhough it. You get a unique sense of the landscape and animals. They drive on the left side of the road which does take some getting use to. However, since the driver is sitting on the right side ofthe car, it seems almost natural. Our biggest problem was turning on the windshield wipers instead of signalling.
Its easy to drive in the outback, especially because there are so few people on the roads. Even if you were on the wrong side, there woudlnt be anyone there anyway.
Written Sep 14, 2006
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