For as long as I have been living in Australia, I remember wanting to go to Uluru or Ayers Rock as it used to be known. The infinite space, the sheer magic of the colours, the fascinating wildlife and the eerie presence of the rock were a reason to daydream an adventure. Uluru is a truly unique destination and never fails to amaze its guests. The unmissable Uluru sights are many and here are those who moved me the most. Also, read about my trip to Kings Canyon, beyond Uluru.
As one of Australia’s most recognisable natural landmark, Uluru is a large sandstone formation. Whilst most of its bulk actually lies underground, Uluru stands at 348m high and has a circumference of 9.4 km. Also, it is of great cultural significance to the Anangu people, traditional custodians of the land.
Uluru is known for its variations in colour throughout the day, especially its deep red tinge at sunrise and sunset.
The first contact with Uluru, either by plane or car, doesn’t fail to be spectacular. The rock appears, isolated in endless space, majestic and imposing. As you get closer, its shape and texture become more defined, and the colour intensifies. It is a grandiose sight, to observe and study peacefully, taking in this inanimate object as if it were alive.
Uluru Sights: Yulara and Ayers Rock Resort
The tourist facilities at Ayers Rock Resort are, in my view, remarkably well organised. A relatively short distance from the airport, the resort offers a broad range of accommodation options to suit all budgets, from camping to family-style apartments and luxury hotels. There are plenty of dining options as well. The resort also offers essential facilities such as a supermarket, post office, health centre and shops.
Uluru is best visited by car, it’s great to have the ability to get around freely. However, if you do not wish to drive, there are plenty of tour options. Whilst the roads are very good, driving can be a hazard because of the plentiful wildlife. It is recommended to be especially cautious at dawn and dusk.
Uluru Sunrise Lookout: Talinguru Nyakuntjaku
Ayers Rock, as it is also known, is most notable for its changes in colour throughout the day. Especially spectacular is its deep red colour at sunrise and sunset, so it makes sense to get up early and visit the Uluru Sunrise Lookout. Besides, it might be the only chance you get to enjoy a little fresh air during your visit…
The Uluru Sunrise Lookout is located within the National Park. You will need to get a park pass upon entry ($25 per adult), which will give you access to Uluru and Kata Tjuta for a period of 3 days.
At Talinguru Nyakuntjaku, you have the choice between various shelters and viewing platforms in order to capture various views of the rock.
Uluru Sights: The Base Walk
The Uluru Base Walk is probably the best way to appreciate the cultural and natural beauty of the place, with opportunities to catch sights of wildlife and beautiful flora. The full circuit is 10.6 km and takes about 3.5 hrs. Be mindful of the heat, walking over 10 km in 40 degrees can be very demanding so don’t hesitate to take shorter walks.
Mala Walk to Kantju Gorge
This is a shorter walk if time is of the essence.
2 km return, 1.5 Hrs
Kuniya Walk to Mutitjulu Waterhole
1 km return, 30-45 mn
These short walks will give you a very idea of the surroundings and you will have the opportunity to get close to the rock.
The Cultural Centre
Don’t miss a stop by the Cultural Centre, to learn about the history and cultural significance of Uluru to its traditional custodians, the Anangu people.
Uluru Sights: Kata Tjuta
Also known as the Olgas, Kata Tjuta is the other spectacular sight within the National Park, some 50 km away from the resort. Kata Tjuta is a conglomerate of cobbles and boulders of different rock types, including granite and basalt, cemented by a matrix of sandstone. Peaking at 1,006 m (Mount Olga) this rock formation is a very different sight than Uluru but nevertheless spectacular.
Kata Tjuta Dune Viewing
This is definitely worth a stop for sunrise or sunset, to view the Olgas shine in that spectacular red.
600 m return, 30 to 45 mn
Valley of the Winds
There are various options for this walk, best done early in the morning, ranging from 2.2 km (1 hr) to 7.4 km (4 hr) for the full circuit. This walk closes if the temperature reaches above 36 degrees.
2.2 km return, 1 hr
Sounds of Silence Dinner
Uluru is such an amazing place, it is only right to indulge a little. There is plenty of luxury accommodation at Ayers Rock Resort and even a spa, but there is a unique experience not to be missed. The Sounds of Silence Dinner is a unique opportunity to spend an evening dining under the sparkling outback sky. A bus picked us up from our hotel and drove to a secluded location. The experience begins with canapés and sparkling wine on a viewing platform offering stunning visions of Uluru at dusk, with the sounds of a didgeridoo. I felt a sense of privilege enjoying a glass of bubbly with those beautiful views.
The “dining room” is set a few paces away, amongst native grass trees and red soil. Complete with white tablecloths and candles, it almost feels like an upmarket dining room. As night fell, we socialised and relaxed. The food is very decent, considering it is served in the middle of the desert. When darkness descends on the land, the stars and constellations appear in the sky and that’s an amazing experience. The Milky Way is clearly discernible and the host delivers a talk about the night sky. Knowledge of astronomy is not a prerequisite to enjoy the night sky. The Sounds of Silence Dinner is a great combination of exotic dining and star gazing in the best place possible.
I did a stargazing tour on my first visit to Uluru, it was a long time ago and I don’t remember the name of the company but it was a really nice experience. Outside of attending the Sound of Silence dinner, this is definitely worth doing and will provide a detailed explanation of the skies above.
My Bucket list
I haven’t seen everything there is to see at Uluru and I hope I get to go back sometime. Here is my bucket list:
Camels are not native to Australia but they have become an essential part of the Red Centre. I would definitely try camel tours to experience a non-motorised and unique way of seeing the unmissable sights of Uluru.
The unmissable sights of Uluru definitely have a dramatic feel and what could be better than riding in the sunset on a powerful machine? The motorcycle tours seem like a great option.
Parks Australia has a great PDF document with all the information you need to plan your trip. Download it here.
Do you have experiences to share about Uluru? What was your unmissable sight?