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Uluru, commonly known by its English name, Ayers Rock, is the iconic red rock formation and sacred aboriginal site in the vast Australian outback.
Nestled in the Northern Territory’s The Red Centre of Australia, it’s one of the most iconic landmarks in the country and one of the main reasons to visit this dry and arid landscape.
For many visitors to Australia, Uluru is at the top of their Aussie bucket list, and it’s easy to see why. Uluru is not just about the red rock formation, it’s actually part of the wider Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and there are many things to do in Uluru that you may not know about.
But what are they? This guide will tell you everything you need to know about what to do at Uluru.
- Is Uluru Worth Visiting?
- How to get to Uluru
- Things To Do In Uluru
- 1. Lasseter Highway Sand Dune
- 2. Watch the Sunset at Uluru
- 3. Catch Uluru for Sunrise
- 5. Do the Uluru Base Walk
- 6. Cycle the Base of Uluru
- 7. Take a Free Ranger Guided Mala Walk
- 8. Take an Uluru Sunset Camel Ride
- 9. Enjoy Sunset Drinks with AAT Kings
- 10. Dine with Sounds of Silence
- 11. Check out Walpa Gorge
- 12. See the Rock Domes of The Olgas
- 13. Visit the Town of Curtin Springs
- 14. Check out the Fields of Light Art Installation (Tali Wiru)
- FAQs About Visiting Uluru
- Final Thoughts on Things to Do At Uluru
- More Red Center Inspiration
Is Uluru Worth Visiting?
Uluru has been a very spiritual place to the local Anangu people, the aboriginal/indigenous people/traditional owner of the area, for thousands of years. Ask most people who visit and spiritual experience is the word they often use to describe it.
Made of arkosic sandstone, Uluru stands 348 meters high and is taller than The Eiffel Tower and 2.5 times the height of Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s a massive monolith and an incredible site to behold, not to mention it’s sacred.
For these reasons, Uluru is 100% worth visiting.
How to get to Uluru
Uluru is not an easy day trip from anywhere. It’s really at the center of Australia in the middle of the desert. The nearest major town is Alice Springs, which is at least a four hour drive. You can either fly direct to Alice Springs, or there are some direct flights from major Australian airports into Uluru (but usually expensive).
Things To Do In Uluru
After spending a week here and getting to know the lands, I now know why this area is known as the heart of Australia. Here are all the top things to do in Uluru and activities to enjoy.
1. Lasseter Highway Sand Dune
The anticipation was building as we turned off the main Stuart Highway and headed along Lasseter Highway in the direction of Uluru.
There’s this unofficial lookout at the top of a small sand dune. You’ll come across a free roadside campground approximately 20 kilometers before you enter the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park boundary, you can’t miss it.
Even though you are still quite a distance from THE ROCK, that first sighting is something special and you can feel its presence and what’s yet to come.
2. Watch the Sunset at Uluru
The are several lookout spots for sunrise and sunset at Uluru, especially around the town of Yulara and within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Every lookout and sunset offers a different perspective of the vibrant and ever-changing colours.
The most popular sunset-viewing area is the official Uluru Sunset Lookout about 10 kilometers down the road through the entrance gates of the park (entry fee $25 for three days).
This is where we had our first up close and personal experience with Uluru, I’m sure you’ll recognize this profile shot, and like us, you’ll be overwhelmed by its incredible size, presence, and spirituality.
We visited in late February (out of peak season) and sunset was around 7.10pm, and it was still quite busy.
If you come in peak season get here early. Set up your camp chair and tripod, bring some nibbles and cold drinks, and enjoy the magical transformation as the sun sinks below the desert horizon.
The other option within the National Park is the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku sunset and sunrise viewing area. This is more of a sunrise spot, which offers a totally different story at sunrise as you’ll read down below.
There’s a tiered viewing platform here that offers uninterrupted views of Uluru and you’ll see the sun in the distance, with views of Kata Tjuta 50 kilometers away.
3. Catch Uluru for Sunrise
We dragged the kids out of bed at 5.am each day and jumped in the car for the 20-minute drive from Yulara into the park (sunrise was around 6.20am).
It’s the best time of day at Uluru, especially if you come in summer like us and need to beat the heat. Regardless of what time of year you visit Uluru, seeing the desert and the rock come alive is an unmissable moment.
For our first Uluru sunrise, we headed back to the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku lookout. Be warned, this is where hordes of people and tour buses converge and was very busy even in the off-season. Again, get here early unless you like people in the foreground of your photos.
To escape the bulk of the crowd and for a closer sunrise view of Uluru, walk down to the track a little in front of the viewing platform, set up your tripod and self-timer, and snap a priceless family portrait.
For a great Uluru sunrise silhouette, on another morning head back to the sunset lookout spot and you’ll get the rock blocking the sun as she rises.
Whilst almost everyone headed to the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku lookout for sunrise, we had this sunset spot all to ourselves, and this magnificent silhouette!
Caz even took a moment for a morning yoga session.
Outside of the park and in the town of Yulara, another good Uluru sunrise option is the Ewing Lookout near the camel farm.
You’re much further away from Uluru, but if you don’t feel like getting up as early to drive into the park it makes for a nice option, also with distant views of Kata Tjuta.
I used my 300mm canon lens to zoom in and get this amazing view of Kata Tjuta from the Ewing Lookout:
For another brilliant sunrise silhouette of Uluru head to the Kata Tjuta dune viewing area.
We were pleasantly surprised when we drove the 50 kilometers out from Yulara to watch the sunrise over Kata Tjuta, and then looked back and saw this.
Again I used my 300mm lens and tripod, but even to the naked eye, this perspective turned out to be one of my favourite spots in the whole park!
5. Do the Uluru Base Walk
One of the best things we did as a family was walk around the base of Uluru. We’ve done some great walks on our trip around Australia but nothing quite like the one at Uluru.
The loop walk is 10.6 kilometres around the whole base of the rock and it took us 3.45 hours, and that’s with a three and seven-year-old and taking lots of photos.
The walk is completely flat with one short sandy section but otherwise solid footing underneath.
Remember though you’re in the Outback so it’s best to start this walk early at first light to beat the heat. The park opens daily at 5am and as soon as we watched the sunrise we were off.
We suggest starting at the Kuniya walking point and heading anti-clockwise. The back face of Uluru doesn’t get any shade so it’s best to walk this section early. In fact, if the temperature forecast is for 40 degrees celsius they close this walk from 11am.
Take lots of water, snacks, and short breaks. There are a few drinking stations around the loop and don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat, comfortable walking shoes or sandals, and sunscreen.
There were quite a lot of flies at the time of our visit, but a head net soon took care of that.
Our kids, aged seven and three, did great. We had to carry little Savannah part of the way sharing the load but it’s all part of the family adventure.
We did it. A priceless family pic at the end of the walk is compulsory
If you’re wondering about climbing Uluru, as of 2017, it’s no longer legal to climb Uluru…and for good reason.
Not only is it an important sacred site, but it’s also an 800-meter steep climb that is actually quite dangerous, people have died, not to mention the high temperatures you get here.
6. Cycle the Base of Uluru
If you’re not up to walking the 10.6 kilometers around the base of Uluru, a great alternative is to hire bikes from Outback Cycling ($60 for three hours, or $45 for kids) or bring your own and bike it – which is much cheaper.
You can even do Uluru segway tours of the base which sound exciting!
We had a tag-along for Kalyra who enjoyed the relaxation of letting daddy do most of the peddling, and little Savannah took in the sights in a baby seat on the back of Caz’s bike.
The 15-kilometer track took us about two hours, again stopping for more photos and drink breaks, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable family experience, not to mention another much-needed workout.
7. Take a Free Ranger Guided Mala Walk
Your third option if you don’t want to walk or bike the whole 10.6 kilometers of Uluru is to participate in the two-kilometer return walk (1.5 hours) free ranger-guided Mala walk.
A ranger will take you along the base of the rock, stopping to tell the story of the mala (rufous hare-wallaby) people. Learn about traditional Anangu culture, creation stories, rock art, and how the park is managed.
These talks take place at 8.00 am – from October to April, and 10.00 am – from May to September.
You can even participate in this Uluru walk and then head off and complete the entire base walk by yourself.
8. Take an Uluru Sunset Camel Ride
Looking for someone else to carry your load whilst you sit back and marvel at the landscape, then one of the unique ways to take in Uluru is on the back of a trusty camel.
Our kids, and us big kids, absolutely loved this experience.
Little Savannah rode up front like a boss and I shared a camel with Kalyra. Our camel was a bit of a cranky bum to start with but soon fell into line, as they do.
As you can see everyone’s happy to be in Uluru. They’re a funny animal the old camel, always up for a pose and why wouldn’t they be with this as their backyard.
At the end of our one-hour ride again we had amazing views all the way over to Kata Tjuta, and a nice touch was the beer, wine, and nibbles back at the camel farm.
9. Enjoy Sunset Drinks with AAT Kings
A fitting farewell to our time at Uluru was sipping on a few glasses of champagne with the folks from AAT Kings.
By now we’d spent seven days by ourselves in and around Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and it was nice to mingle with others from around the world and share stories and feelings about what it’s like to take in the wonder of Uluru.
It’s a sight you never get tired of seeing, an experience you never get tired of feeling, and funnily enough, looks and feels even better after a few glasses of the old bubbly!
10. Dine with Sounds of Silence
On our bucket list is the Sounds of Silence dining experience under the stars (when the kids are a bit older).
It’s an evening of dining under the dazzling outback night sky, which is full of stars. The experience offers canapes and chilled sparkling wine, whilst you sit on sand dunes that overlook the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
The idea is to watch the sunset view and as darkness falls, listen in silence for the sound of a didgeridoo and the still outback ambiance.
After dinner, listen to an astronomer paint a map of the night sky for you and learn about planets and star constellations.
11. Check out Walpa Gorge
Nearby the Kata Tjuta area, you’ll find the stunning Walpa Gorge. This scenic landscape is known for being a desert refuge for wildlife, such as wallabies, as well as native plants and fauna. You can see clusters of pink daisies sprinkled across the ground in the winter.
There is a 2.6km out and back hiking trail through the sandstone domes, which passes by a seasonal stream and rare plants.
It’s one of the most beautiful natural sites near to Ayres Rock.
12. See the Rock Domes of The Olgas
If hiking is your thing, then a visit to Kata Tjuta, or The Olgas, is definitely worth adding to your list of activities for Uluru.
The Olgas are a collection of ochre-colored rock formations that rise out of the Earth in a dome-shape, and they are even known to glisten and change color during sunrise and sunset.
These unique rock formations are just 40km west of Uluru and is also a sacred site to the Anangu people. In aborigini, the name Kata Tjuta means many heads, and it’s a reference to the number of formations that reside here.
It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Area and praised for both its natural and cultural value.
It’s possible to walk around the domes on a 7.4km trail known as the Valley of the Winds Walk. The trail is moderate difficulty and takes around 4 hours to complete.
13. Visit the Town of Curtin Springs
Curtin Springs is a family-owned ranch owned by the Severin family, who have made the arid Outback desert their home.
You can visit Curtin Springs and learn about paper-making through workshops and demonstrations using local grass.
You can also visit their million acre cattle station, stay at their inn, or enjoy private walks of their land.
14. Check out the Fields of Light Art Installation (Tali Wiru)
Another one of Uluru’s top attractions is the Field of Light art installation created by British Artist, Bruce Munro. The installation has 50,000 solar-powered spheres of light that illuminate an area the size of a football pitch.
In the Pitjantjatjara language, it’s known as Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku or simply in English; looking at lots of beautiful lights.
Join a guided sunrise tour to Field of Light, an immersive art installation featuring 50,000 solar-powered stems and globes that resemble a field of glowing flowers, with transfers from Yulara included. Book your tour here.
FAQs About Visiting Uluru
Here’s what people usually ask us about visiting Uluru.
When is the best time to visit Uluru?
Every season offers something different in Uluru, and we believe it is worth visiting whenever you can make it happen!
We visited during the hottest month of the year, and while it was uncomfortable at times, we still had the most amazing time and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
The winter months are typically the most popular time to visit Uluru as the temperatures are much cooler and the flies not as intense.
The colors of the rock are more vibrant and you have more chance of seeing abundant waterfalls (yes, it’s amazing how much water you find in the desert)
But, visiting Uluru during the winter months will mean you’ll be dealing with higher crowds and prices.
You can look towards more of the shoulder months: April – May, Sept- October for more ideal conditions.
How many days do you need in Uluru?
You’ve probably seen hundreds of photos, postcards, and TV commercials of Uluru, but it’s a place you have to see and feel, for yourself.
To really get a feel for the place, and to do all the activities around Uluru, you should spend at least 3 days here. This will allow you to explore the area at your own pace and really come away having fulfilled a once in a lifetime experience.
Where to Stay in Uluru?
Ayers Rock Resort in Yulara is really the only place you can stay near Uluru.
It has everything you need from hotel restaurants, cafés, a mini-mart, and the only petrol station.
The accommodation options for Uluru range from $30/night for an unpowered camping site, or up to $3,000/night for the Longitude 131º Luxury Pavilions. There are 2, 3, 4, and 5 star options.
In the busy periods, expect to pay up to $500/night for a 4 star option.
We experienced both camping at an unpowered site, which was killer during the hot summer months. We had 43º C – 45º C temperatures every day, which made sleeping very difficult, as did the crazy flies!!
Thankfully, camping at Yulara gives you access to the Ayers Rock amenities so during the heat of the day we could swim in the pool or sit inside the foyer in the AC.
We also had two nights in an Emu Walk Apartment, which was total bliss! We had loads of room and plenty of cool temperatures with the aircon.
I highly recommend it if you are visiting during the summer months or visiting Uluru on a short term holiday rather than as part of your long term caravanning trip around Australia!
Another popular area to stay near Uluru is in the region’s capital, Alice Springs.
Yulara Accommodation Options:
Here are some options for accommodation in Yulara:
- Emu Walk Apartments
- Sails in the Desert
- Desert Gardens Hotel
- The Lost Camel Hotel
- Outback Pioneer Hotel
- Outback Pioneer Lodge
Final Thoughts on Things to Do At Uluru
We had the most amazing time exploring Uluru. It was everything we imagined and then some.
No, we didn’t do every experience on offer at Uluru, and it still amazes me how much there really is to do around the National Park and Yulara.
You can be sure it won’t be another 40 years until we return.
Don’t just come for a day, stay a while and really get to know what I now know to be truly the “heart of Australia”.
More Red Center Inspiration
Are you visiting other parts of The Red Centre region? Then you may find these guides helpful:
- You can walk the Kings Canyon Rim with kids
- 34 experiences to have in the Northern Territory
- Surprised by the West Macdonnell Ranges
- 12 Natural Wonders of Australia
- The Best National Parks in Australia
Can you think of any more things to do in Uluru? Share your experience or any tips in the comments below!