Picture: Ayres Rock (Uluru)
Ayres Rock and The Olgas rock formation are in Uluru - Kata Tjuta
National Park. Entry into the national park costs $15 per person. The
entry ticket is valid for multiple entries for a period of five days. Services
are at the nearby purpose built resort town of Yulara 18km north of Ayres
Rock. The Olgas are 40km west of Ayres Rock, 58km from Yulara. Organised
tours of Ayres Rock and the Olgas depart from Yulara (inquire at hotel
receptions) and from Alice Springs.
Once at the rock many people make the steep climb to the top along the marked walking track with handrail. This takes 90 minutes return and not recommended for the unfit.
The 10km walk around the rock takes 5 hours. There are aboriginal cave
paintings in places and three semi-permanent pools from the water run-off
from the rock.
The Olgas (KaTa TjuTa)
(population 2367 plus numerous tourists) (446km southwest of Alice Springs)
Yulara is a purpose built resort town that will make your stay in this inhospitable landscape pleasant and fun. Accommodation ranges from 4-star all the way through to dormitory. There is also a caravan park, shops, supermarket, cinema, information centre and numerous restaurants in the various hotels. Everything is within easy walking distance of each other. All prices at Yulara are notoriously expensive due to the extreme remoteness of the location and resulting high transport, labour and construction costs. Alice Springs, the nearest town of any significance is 446km away.
This is a complete listing of Yulara accommodation. All are on the circular Yulara Dve. All are run by the same company and have a central booking phone number 02 9360 9099. This is a Sydney number. The youth hostel type accommodation (and all the outback atmosphere) is at the Outback Pioneer Hotel.
Outback Pioneer Hotel 125 3-star double rooms at $256 per night, 12 cabins with communal bathroom but own fridge accommodating up to 4 are $116 per night, a bed in one of two 40 bed bunkhouses is $21. Pool, barbecue, restaurant, food kiosk, take away liquor outlet (noon to 7pm only). Lots of young backpackers stay here and the open air dining area is the happening place at Yulara. The place has great atmosphere and is quite busy. There is a very popular kiosk that sells meat that you cook yourself on their big barbeques with everyone else. You can buy and cook yourself authentic Australian outback kangaroo, emu or buffalo steak, crocodile kebabs, barramundi fish or the more conventional beef steak or hamburger patties. Salad and vegetable buffet is included in the price of $13 to $17. Then sit down to eat it at the authentic open air dining area with everyone else at long wooden tables washing it down with a couple (or more) Australian beers from the bar while listening to the bush musician playing the Australian bush ballads on the banjo. This eatery is highly recommended for a great feed and great bush atmosphere.
u u u u Sails in the Desert Large luxury hotel with elegant restaurants and bars with great views of Ayres Rock 18km away. 228 units. Double rooms are $350, extra child $20. Suits are $410-$630. Pool, spa, tennis court.
u u u ² Emu Walk Services Apartments 56 one and two bedroom apartments accommodate up to 8 people. $260-$323.
u u u Desert Gardens Hotel 160 units. Double rooms are $286-$330, extra child $20. Pool, half court tennis.
Spinifex Lodge 68 one bedroom units accommodating 2 to 4 for $103 per night. Laundry, barbecue, limited kitchen facilities in room, communal bathroom
Connellan airport is 5km north of town. Qantas and Ansett have flights to major Australian cities and Alice Springs ($200). Airnorth (phone 1800 627 474) flies between Yulara and Alice Springs too.
Greyhound Pioneer and McCafferty’s have daily buses between Yulara and Alice Springs for $77 and take 5 1/2 hours. If coming from Adelaide you usually have to change buses at Erldunda.
Both bus companies have 2 or 3 day package tours to Ayres Rock departing from Alice Springs. The Greyhound Pioneer 3 day tour includes Kings Canyon.
Hertz (phone 08 8956 2244) http://www.hertz.com and Avis (phone 08 8956 2266) http://www.avis.com have offices at Connellan airport. Territory Rent-a-Car has an office at the Outback Pioneer Hotel. Other hotel receptions will also be able to help you. As Yulara is a remote location, book ahead for a car.
If hiring a car for 3 days in Alice Springs to takes to Ayres Rock and back budget $500 (including insurance and petrol) or $600 if you also plan to go to Kings Canyon.
Sunworth share-taxi will take you around $20 to and from Ayres
Rock and $40 to and from the Olgas. Phone 08 8956 2152 and discuss with
them what you want to see and do. Sunworth is much cheaper than an organised
CANYON (WATTARKA NATIONAL PARK)
By road it is 300km to Ayres Rock, and 475km to Alice Springs on the bitumen via Erldunda. Taking the rough unsealed Ernst Giles Rd to Alice Springs shortens the trip 330km. Ernst Giles road is impassable after heavy rain.
For those with 4wds there is a back road to Alice Springs via Hermannsburg.
Helicopter flights over the canyon are available from the Kings Canyon Resort (phone 08 8956 7873; $140 for 35 minutes) of the Kings Creek Station 36km away.
There are very long day trips from Yulara at Ayres Rock. Some tours from Alice Springs include Kings Canyon.
u u u ² Kings Canyon Resort is run by the same organisation that runs the Ayres Rock resort and has a variety of standards of accommodation. There are 96 double rooms for $208-$240 per night. Beds in the backpackers’ bunkhouse are $33 or $75 a double. Campsites are $25. Phone 08 8956 7442 or 1800 891 101. Facilities are pool, restaurant, cafe, bar, general store and petrol at $1.20 per litre.
Kings Creek Station Camping Ground is 36km away just outside
the national park. Its advantage is that campsites are cheaper at $8 per
person. Phone 08 8956 7474. Petrol, limited stores, helicopter joyflights
over Kings Canyon. They use the helicopter to round up wild camels at other
TO GO NEXT
The only bitumen road out of Ayres Rock is east on the Lasseter Highway returning to the Stuart Highway at Erldunda.
From the Stuart Highway intersection you can go either:
North to Alice Springs (see roadhouses along the way below); or
South through the opal mining
town of Coober Pedy, the
army rocket launching township at Woomera
to Port Augusta. Port Augusta
road and rail interchange town with routes in every direction. Adelaide
is then only 400km further south.
Between Alice Springs and Ayres Rock
(population nominal) (199km south of Alice Springs)