9 Ways to Experience the Magic of Uluru, Australia

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Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock in The Red Centre of Australia had escaped us for 40 years.

It’s not that we’ve never wanted to visit, it’s always been at the top of our Aussie bucket list, but with all our overseas adventures and the age old attitude of Australia will always be there, we put it on the back burner.

Don't miss Uluru in the Northern Territory of Australia
Uluru is a must see when you are planning a road trip in Australia

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.

Uluru has been a very spiritual place to the the Anangu people, the traditional owners, 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 metres high and is taller than The Eiffel Tower and 2.5 times the height of Sydney Harbour Bridge.

After spending a week here and getting to know the lands, I now know why this area is known as the heart of Australia.

1. Lasseter Highway Sand Dune

First glimpse of Uluru in the Red Centre of Australia

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 kilometres 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 of what’s yet to come.

2. Sunset at Uluru

Sunset at Uluru in the Red Centre of Australia

The are several lookout spots for sunset at Uluru 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 spot is the official Uluru Sunset Lookout about 10 kilometres 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.

Sunset at Uluru in the Red Centre of Australia

The other option within the National Park is the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku sunset and sunrise lookout.

There’s a tiered viewing platform here which offers uninterrupted views of Uluru and you’ll see the sun setting in the distance, with views of Kata Tjuta 50 kilometres away.

Sunrise at Uluru in Central Australia

Not as popular here at sunset as the first spot, but a totally different story at sunrise as you’ll read down below.

3. Uluru Sunrise

Sunrise at Uluru in the Central Australia

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.

Sunrise at Uluru - Northern Territory, Australia

HOT TIP:

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!

Sunrise at Uluru in the Central Australia

 

Caz even took a moment for a morning yoga session.

Yoga during sunrise at Uluru in Central Australia

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.

Sunrise at Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia

Sunrise at Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia

I used my 300mm canon lens to zoom in and get this amazing view of Kata Tjuta from the Ewing Lookout:

Sunrise over Kata Tjuta, Central Australia

4. Kata Tjuta dune viewing area

Sunrise at Uluru in the Northern Territory of Australia

Here’s an extra hot tip. For another brilliant sunrise silhouette of Uluru head to the Kata Tjuta dune viewing area.

We’ll be writing about Kata Tjuta in an upcoming post, but we were pleasantly surprised when we drove the 50 kilometres 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 being 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 walking around the base of Uluru. We’ve done some great walks on this trip around Australia but nothing quite like the one at Uluru.

Uluru Base Walk - Central Australia

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 sunrise we were off.

Uluru Base Walk - Central Australia

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.

Uluru Base Walk - Central Australia

Uluru Base Walk - Central Australia

Uluru Base Walk - Central Australia

Uluru Base Walk - Central Australia

Uluru Base Walk - Central Australia

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.

Uluru Base Walk - Central Australia

We did it. A priceless family pic at the end of the walk is compulsory

Uluru Base Walk - Central Australia

If you’re wondering about climbing Uluru, yes it’s still legal to do it and about 20% of all visitors do, but we chose not to out of respect for the traditional owners who request people don’t as it’s such an important sacred site.

Regardless, the 800-metre steep climb is actually quite dangerous, people have died, and it was closed due to the high temperatures. This is what the Anangu people have to say:

Uluru Base Walk - Central Australia

6. Cycle the base of Uluru

If you’re not up to walking the 10.6 kilometres around the base of Uluru, a great alternative is to hire bikes from Outback Cycling ($30 for three hours) or bring your own and bike it. (You can even do segway tours of the base which sound exciting)

Uluru cycle ride - Central Australia

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.

Uluru cycle ride - Central Australia

The 15-kilometre 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.

Uluru bike ride - Central Australia

7. Free Ranger Guided Mala Walk

Your third option if you don’t want to walk or bike the whole 10.6 kilometres of Uluru is to participate in the two-kilometre 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, rock art and how the park is managed. 8.00 am – October to April. 10.00 am – May to September.

You can even participate in this Uluru walk and then head off and complete the entire base walk by yourself.

8. Uluru sunset camel ride

Uluru sunset camel ride - Northern Territory, Australia

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. We’ve ridden camels at sunset before on Cable Beach in Broome, but I think this was better!

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.

Uluru sunset camel ride - Northern Territory, Australia

Uluru sunset camel ride - Northern Territory, Australia

Uluru sunset camel ride - Northern Territory, Australia

Uluru sunset camel ride - Northern Territory, Australia

As you can see everyone’s happy to be at 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.

Uluru sunset camel ride - Northern Territory, Australia

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.

Grab your camel ride tickets here. 

9. Sunset drinks with AAT Kings

Sunset drinks at Uluru - Northern Territory, Australia

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 of 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!

You can grab your champagne Uluru sunset tour tickets here. 

Sunset drinks at Uluru - Northern Territory, Australia

Sunset drinks at Uluru - Northern Territory, Australia

Cheers.

Sunset drinks at Uluru - Northern Territory, Australia

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.

On our bucket list is the Sounds of Silence dining experience under the stars (when the kids are a bit older) and a helicopter flight sounds amazing too! It’s included in this Uluru and Kata Tjuta tour. 

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”.

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.

Uluru Accommodation

Ayers Rock Resort Yulara 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!

Yulara Accommodation options:

Plan Your Trip to Uluru

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Accommodation

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Popular Tours to Uluru

We visited Uluru in partnership with Tourism NT as part of our Red Centre Way drive .

Have you visited Uluru? Share your experience or any tips in the comments below!

79 thoughts on “9 Ways to Experience the Magic of Uluru, Australia”

    1. I did this three years ago and stayed for three days. You can do sunset, sunrise and the basewalk in two days and one night. Some extra days will give you the chance to see kings canyon and kata tjutua aswell.

    2. I think 3 nights would be a good amount of time as this gives you 2 full days – 1 to explore Uluru and the other for Kata-Tjuta. It would also give you enough time for a photographic session during at least one sunset and one sunrise, as well as a chance to look round the cultural centre in the park too, which is well worth it.

    3. Hi Traveolani,

      If only you had more than 2 weeks for all of Oz right?! 🙂 I agree with the others, if you can make it 3 nights / 2 days and see at least one sunset, one sunrise and either walk or cycle around the base of Uluru. Hope this helps??

      1. Traveolani @ www.traveolani.com

        Thanks, Craig, that helps a lot. I think if I stay more than 2 weeks in Australia it will be very expensive :)!!!

  1. Great photos, Craig! I know what you mean about leaving Uluru for later in life because you know it’s waiting there, right in the middle of Australia and not too difficult to get to. I went there as a young child with my family but even still I really want to go back as I was too young to remember much. My mum took the most amazing series of photos at sunset where the rock changed from pale orange through to bright glowing red, to purple and blue.

    1. Hey Bonny,

      Seeing the colours change before your eyes is magical. And every sunset and sunrise is different. And there really is so much more to see. Hope you make it back soon!

  2. Awesome photos of Uluru, you did a great job of capturing the spirit of this site. Truly a magical place…

    I visited 2 days in October on my visit to Australia from the States, and this was one of the top highlights! I saw Uluru at sunset from the viewing area, and was doing walks in the morning, so missed that. I took the camel ride as well…great fun! I had to laugh when you said your camel was cranky, was its name Ned Kelly by any chance ?

    I spent 16 days in Australia, spent a few days each in Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, Uluru and Cairns, and I cannot wait to visit again, the country, people, sites and wildlife are just amazing.

    I

    1. Magical indeed. No our camels name was Norsman ha ha.

      So glad you visited from the states, and sounds like you got to do some cool stuff. Definitely come back for a longer stay!

  3. What a nice variety of ways to experience Uluru! It’s interesting to notice how big it is–it doesn’t seem so large in photos from far away, but seeing you guys up close next to it really shows the scale.

    1. BIG it is Jenna. When you come visit us from California, and you must come visit us, put some quality time aside for Uluru and the Red Centre, your family will love it, this is Australia right here! 🙂

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed following your journey on Instagram and Facebook! This is definitely a bucket list destination for me! The cycling and camel riding around it are Epic! What beautiful pictures also!

  5. With all the wonderful pictures, I just Uluru in my bucket list. I’ve never heard about it before you started to put photos on Instagram and I feel in love immediately! And the fact they offer so many activities is pretty cool too!

  6. With all the wonderful pictures, I just put Uluru on my bucket list. I’ve never heard about it before you started to put photos on Instagram and I feel in love immediately! And the fact they offer so many activities is pretty cool too!

  7. Hey guys, we visited Uluru as part of a big Central Australia road trip last year and were blown away by it too! The Base Walk is super, but definitely a good tip to start it early – we learnt that the hard way and made sure we didn’t make the same mistake with the Valley of the Kings walk at Kata-Tjuta and the Ormiston Pound walk in the MacDonnell Range. Enjoy it!

    1. Always best to start at first light Steph, especially if you’re visiting in summer like we did. We can’t wait to visit again in a different time of year.

  8. I am so glad you have written this post. It really showcases the area beautifully and the tips will make our experience better for sure when we do get there. It won’t be too long now in the grand scheme. Great Photos!

  9. You’ve really done Uluru and the Red Centre justice with this post and your Facebook/Instagram feeds – your photos are fantastic. How wonderful it will be to have them one day to look back on when Savannah and Kalyra are all grown up. Loved your descriptions of the area too, and your insider tips, which not everyone would know about. Gosh, I visited over 30 years ago, and from what I remember there was only a campsite and a pub – very little else.

    1. Priceless memories Joe! So grateful to be able to share this magical part of Australia with our kids.

      Yep, seems as though things have changed in 30 years, but you beat us to the punch ha ha.

  10. WOW! Uluru is so gorgeous! The camel ride looks fantastic. I guess I am going to go crazy here…wouldn’t stop taking pictures! It’s a unique site.

  11. You have taken some of the best photos of Uluru I have seen. Wonderful photography. We too respected the requests not to climb when we got there, although one of the reasons to go when we did was originally to ‘climb it while we were physically able’. I did not feel disappointed that we did not climb it. We took the full walk around, and the drove around the circuit.

  12. Yes, this is a great place that I recommend everyone who visits or lives in Aussie to get to. It is such an experience with the history, spirituality, and the obviously beauty. My favorite is the sunrise although it’s pretty early.

  13. Amazing, amazing photos! Uluru is so captivating and in a way, has such a mysterious air about it. It’s one of the places I was really hoping to visit when I lived in Australia for a short time but unfortunately I didn’t make it there. I’m keeping it on my “someday” list though, as I would love to see it with my own eyes!
    Jessica
    http://www.thebellevoyage.com

  14. Beautiful photographs! I especially love the shot of – is that yoga? – with the rock. I’m sure the air of that place is perfect for such a relaxing, grounding activity. Thanks so much for sharing.

  15. my husband and I visited this area for a week 15 years ago. Great memories. We now have 2 kids and are planning a trip to Australia for a month December 2015. We cant wait to show them this area. We are from New York and are looking forward to the adventure this December. Your site has been amazing for us. We got lots of ideas from your blogs. thank you very much. My question: Visiting in December (possibly during Christmas/New Years time, will this be crowded? Is it a big time to visit Uluru? Not sure if I should reserve camp site as we will rent a campervan. We will be flying in from Cairns before this. ANy suggestions are welcomed. Thanks.

  16. Hey Guys,

    My partner & I are leaving for our trip in mid-may around Australia 🙂
    all your photo’s are making me even more anxious to pack up & go straight away !

  17. We are off to Uluru at the end of June because of THIS post. Considering we have only been home from our big lap for 3 months too!!……you guys are inspiring. We will hire bikes from the same crowd. So much easier than dragging all of ours. Cheers

    1. Brilliant Tanya. Glad we’ve inspired you to visit. You’ll love every moment, and everything Uluru and the Red Centre has to offer. Enjoy 🙂

  18. We’ve just started planning our trip to Australia for July 2016. We’re planning on visiting Sydney, Tasmania, Cairns, and of course, the beautiful Uluru. I’m so excited

  19. This brings back memories! One of my first all out backpacking trips was around Australia. We camped out under the stars after watching the sun set on Uluru. The night skies out there are magical. Great post, and I’m glad you guys didn’t climb – we also chose not to, out of respect for the original people of the land.

  20. Hey Craig,
    What an amazing experience for you guys! It looks and sounds like it was such a memorable experience for all of you!

    If any of your followers are looking at doing a similar trip and visiting Uluru, then be sure to check out http://www.uluru.travel

    We have listed an entire list of tours that visit the region, with options catering for all budgets and itineraries.

    We also have a live chat function for anyone wanting to speak to a travel expert.

    Thanks guys! Looking forward to read many more of your blog posts!

    Tyson
    Uluru Adventures

  21. Richard oldham

    Agree with everything here, but it’s a sign of the PC age we live in that climbing the rock doesn’t get a mention. I lived there for 2 years and climbed it several times, it was amazing every time. You’ll be told the aboriginals get upset by people climbing the rock but I talked to so many of them while there – and they don’t really care, they are more offended by people photographing them than climbing the rock, it’s just a bit of spin for the tourists. So climb it, it’s incredible!

  22. Reading your blog is very inspiring. We are heading to Uluru from Rockhampton QLD via the dinosaur trail, in September this year. We have four children, aged 11, 9, 7 and 5. I have a silly sounding question for you….how does everyone hold onto their bladders for the 10km base walk around Uluru?

    1. Great question! I worried about it before setting off too. There are a couple of spots that have toilets to help you out. A few long stretches without it, but we didn’t need a pit stop!

  23. Hello! I just write to the camel companie and they say that kids under 5 years old cannot do the camel sunset? Is it what you did with your little girl at 3?

  24. Lorraine Anderson

    You mentioned taking the Red Centre Way, sadly there is not map for your Uluru/Alice Springs trip so I can’t find Red Centre Way. Google maps has it as Larapinta Dr, is this correct
    Many Thanks, you have a great blog

    1. Hi Lorraine, I have 2 links for you. Here is a link to more information on the Red Centre Way from the Northern Territory Tourism website. You can download a PDF which has a map and a suggested 6-day itinerary from Alice to Uluru (or in reverse). Link: http://adventurealltheway.com.au/itineraries/red-centre-way/

      And here is another helpful link with trip ideas and length: http://travelnt.com/en/things-to-do/self-drive-touring/red-centre-way

      I’m glad you like our blog!

  25. I live in Asia and I’ve always wanted to go to the Ayers Rock. However, my friends warn me that Uluru is the crime capital of Australia. Can someone please enlighten me on this subject?

    1. I’ve never heard of that before. We stayed there for nine days and never felt unsafe and did not experience anything negative. I don’t think this is something to concern yourself about.

  26. Great post! A friend and I are trying to plan a trip here in early June. What would you recommend for someone flying in on how to get there? I don’t think we’ll be renting a car, but would this be necessary, or are there other ways to get from the airport to the hostels/activities at the rock?
    Thanks so much!

  27. Fantastic read, fantastic photos, our Daughter and son in law live in NT we are about to go back for another visit, love love love the place, and we are about to revisit everywhere where you took us in your story, it’s a very emotional and spiritual place so Thankyou

  28. Love this post – there are so many ways to experience the magic of this special place without clambering all over it and disrespecting local’s wishes.
    We visited last August (2016) and the climb was open on our final day in the National Park.
    We chose not to climb out of respect for the local Anangu people.
    We felt so strongly about it that we also wrote a blog post that will hopefully encourage others to do the same!
    http://wanderingon.com/why-we-chose-not-to-climb-uluru-and-you-should-too/
    Such an amazing place!

  29. It’s this kind of thorough blog post with stunning photography that is helpful to travellers. Craig, this is awesome. I used the information in your post to guide my planning of a recent visit to Uluru. I’m pleased I cycled around Uluru; it was the highlight of my trip to Australia. While it pales in comparison to your post, in the event it’s useful to your readers, here’s a description of my experience on the cycle path: http://packinglighttravel.com/destinations/australia-oceania/australia/cycling-uluru/

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