We arrived at Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park via the Great Central Road coming from Western Australia. About 70km after the border you reach the National Park. It is at that point that you also hit the sealed road, which was a relief for us to say the least. You can read in more detail about our experience in our Weekly Updates, particularly Week 2 and Week 3.
National Park Pass
When you arrive via the Great Central Road to the National Park you do not immediately need to buy a National Park pass, however there is a large section of the road that is ‘no stopping’ as the NT government does not want you to get a ‘freebie’ pic of Uluru or Kata Tjuta. Fair enough really, it is their greatest drawcard.
If you are doing more than just passing through you will need to buy a National Park Pass. It is $25 per adult and $12.50 per child for a 3 day pass. Any longer than that and it is $32.50 per adult for an annual pass or $15for a child. You can purchase them from a window at the entrance, or online here.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta NP
I personally don’t believe that 3 days is enough time to see and experience the National Park. We stayed for 3 nights and we felt rushed to try and see as much as we could and did not leave satisfied.
We do like to travel slowly and have plenty of downtime to relax and enjoy ourselves (and we were exhausted after constant driving across the Great Central Road). I know not everyone is like that, so if you are a more active traveler then 3 days may be more than ample for you. If you want to read more about our trip through this section you can read Our Big Lap updates.
There is plenty to do around the National park, but the 2 main attractions are Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Uluru is only about 20km from Yulara and all your accommodation options. It is a hard sight to miss on the horizon as it dominates the landscape. Seriously, that is one huge rock, jutting out in the middle of nowhere.
Uluru is the name given to it by the traditional owners, while it was named Ayers Rock by the European Explorer Willian Gosse. Today, it’s name has been returned to the original Uluru, however many use the two names interchangeably.
Walks in the Area
There are 4 main walks that you can do around Uluru. We did 2 of them the Mala and Liru Walks. We learnt about the Mala and Liru stories at the cultural centre and then did the walks from the cultural centre and then back. Liru walk is about 2 km and Mala is about 1km, but then we had to return as well so it was about 6km in total (maybe a little bit more).
The Liru Walk
The Liru walk is the furthest from Uluru which means you get a good view of it from afar (which is good to notice some of the features of the rock that are mentioned in the story). If we had to choose again we would probably skip this walk and do the ones that are closer to the rock itself.
The benefit of the Liru walk is you get to see ‘the other side’ of Uluru, which is the less frequently photographed side.
The Mala Walk
The Mala walk is right along one little corner of Uluru and explores some of the women’s cultural areas. There are some caves with some aboriginal rock art and a peaceful water hole. A part of this walk is a sacred area and the traditional owners request that you do not take any pictures. There is a sign notifying you when you reach the culturally sensitive areas.
The Base Walk
Is a 10.6km loop that goes around the whole of Uluru. We did not do this walk on this visit because we were really just testing out my sprained ankle, but we would love to return and do it another time. This does seem to be the most popular walk, with most visitors choosing to do this walk. The traditional owners also request that you choose to do this walk instead of the climb.
The Lungkata walk
This walk also follows a tiny section of the rock. Again, this was a walk that we missed on this visit. If you did not want to do the 10.6km Base Walk, I would recommend doing this walk and the Mala Walk to see the best parts of the rock that you can.
The Uluru Climb will be closed by the end of October 2019. At the time that we visited, it had been announced that the climb would be closed but it was still open, so it was very busy. It looked like a line of ants climbing up a hill.
We chose not to do the climb ourselves and understand that the climb was closed because the numbers of people climbing it had declined dramatically as more and more people chose to respect the wishes of the traditional owners.
Sunset over Uluru
Everyone makes a big fuss about watching the colours change on Uluru as the sunsets. It really is a great thing to watch and a Must Do for your trip. They print the sunset and sunrise times in a little booklet so make sure to pick one up and get there at least half an hour before the sunsets. If you want a great spot try and get there 1-2 hours before.
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
Kata Tjuta is located about 50km away from Uluru. It is the first thing that you see as you enter the National Park via the Great Central Road.
Kata Tjuta is a jumble of huge rocks – the highest one being almost twice as high as Uluru.
Walks at Kata Tjuta
There are 3 or 4 walks that you can also do through Kata Tjuta.
Walpa Gorge Walk
We did the Walpa Gorge walk which was just over 2km long. We loved the short walk as we walked over the rock from full sunlight into the cool shade of the rock itself.
The Valley of the Winds Walk
Is a 6km trail and the longest of the walks through Kata Tjuta. We didn’t do this walk ourselves but others that we met told us that it is amazing. If we had more time we definitely would have got out early one morning and done this one. Oh well, it is always a good idea to save something for next time.
There are a couple of other walks you can do through Kata Tjuta. For a full list and information on all the walks through the National Park, follow this link to the Parks Australia website.
The Cultural Centre tells the stories of the traditional owners of Uluru. All of the stories that it tells are to do with Uluru, there are none about Kata Tjuta.
There is a video about the handing back of Uluru to the traditional owners which plays on a loop that is quite interesting.
There is also a display on bush tucker that can be found in the area.
In the same area as the cultural entre is a small café and a couple of shops selling local aboriginal art and other tourist items.
Yulara is the town that has been created to service the tourism around Uluru and Kata Tjuta. It is now the 4th largest township in the NT after Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs.
All of your accommodation and dining options are located in Yulara. There is a full range of different options available from Villas to 5 star hotel to cabins and campgrounds. You will pay a premium for all options.
We stayed at a powered site at the Ayers Rock Campground as we have our own camper trailer. The campgrounds are huge with heaps of powered and unpowered sites and a huge overflow area.
The facilities of the campgrounds are fine. Large toilet and shower blocks. There is not really a camp kitchen but some barbeques are provided in under shelter areas. There is a pool, kids playground, mini golf and some scenic lookouts.
Yulara has a small IGA which is well stocked but very busy. Fresh fruit and vegetables can sell out in the afternoons though so if that is what you are after head in early to stock up.
There is a post office, newsagency and a couple of other gift and specialty stores there as well.
Yulara is also where you will find the only petrol station in the area.
The Visitor Centre
The Visitor Centre is also located in Yulara and offers regular free activities. They print an information sheet with the dates and times of the different cultural activities that they offer, which change regularly.
There is also a walk that you can do from Yulara to Uluru which takes you through a heap of native vegetation with some information boards identifying different types of bush tucker that you pass by.
Free Camps Nearby
There are a few 24 hour free camp road stops nearby if you really don’t want to pay for accommodation but I think it would be more hassle than it is worth.
If you want a free camp that is more than 24 hours, the nearest is Curtain Springs which is about 80km away, but it is quite safe to unhitch there and travel in by car for a couple of days if you want.
There are heaps of tours that offer packages through the whole Red Centre area so there is an option for everyone. If you are traveling solo, or don’t have your own camping or vehicle equipment, or if you don’t want to pay the high cost for the hotels and restaurants in the area, a tour can be the best and most affordable option.
Is it Worth it?
Yes, a visit to this part of the world is definitely worth it. We really think of ourselves as beach people, but there is something about that red dust that gets under your skin and opens your eyes. You will see something amazing here that you will not find anywhere else in the world.
If you would like more information about other things to see in the area check out my detailed post on the whole of the Red Centre and keep an eye out for individual posts on Alice Springs and the MacDonnell Ranges (coming soon).
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