I don’t know what I was expecting at Uluru. Sure – it’s a giant rock that’s photographed more often that Elle MacPherson, so I guess I was expecting to be awed – which I totally was! I was also expecting plenty of red sand, flies galore and plenty of tourists to tussle with for that prime view to watch the sunset or sunrise. All of which were true.
But I wasn’t prepared for:
Still being able to climb Uluru
Given how sacred Uluru is – I was incredibly surprised to find you can still climb the rock. While “I’ve climbed Uluru” memorabilia have long gone from the souvenir shops, people still like to risk life and limb. Nowadays though it is strongly encouraged to not climb and there’s even a register for those who didn’t climb to sign.
To find a hidden jewel
Kata-Tjuta is equally as stunning as Uluru. Don’t miss it whatever you do! The thirty-six domed rock formations are both interesting and intriguing. I just wish we had been able to spend more time here walking and soaking it in. But alas, the little people in our lives were not so keen when we attempted to do a walk. All’s not lost though – we know we will be back this way sometime soon.
Needing more time to explore
This is an obvious one given my last comments, but even though we had three nights in Yulara, we needed to factor in little people schedules and we weren’t so prepared for our first sunrise opportunity. Ideally try to experience two sunrises and two sunsets – one at Uluru and another at Kata-Tjuta. You can also watch the sun rising or setting behind the rocks which making awesome silhouette photos. Walking in the mornings is far better weather wise too, so this adds to your time required depending on the number of walks you want to do.
A National Park entry fee
It probably sounds like I’m a scrooge whinging about having to pay an entry fee. But, it’s such a rort – more over-commercialisation of nature, if you ask me! Uluru Kata-Tjuta is not the first National Park to administer an entry fee, I know. It’s common practice at the Snowy Mountains, and the Victorian high country national parks to take advantage of snow bunnies heading to the slopes. Even Kakadu National Park has an entry fee – although NT residents are exempt here.
But at $65 for a three-day pass and the only facilities are less than a handful of toilet blocks, I do questions the price. But I will say though that the sunrise viewing platform is pretty damn impressive. Not only can you watch sunrise on Uluru, Kata-Tjuta is in the background too! Just get there SUPER early to secure a spot front and centre. Otherwise, head down to the walking path below the platform (just continue along the path instead of turning to the left to the platforms) with your camping chair and a thermos to make a hot cuppa and enjoy watching the rock glow in a myriad of the morning sun colours. Chances are you will have the area all to yourself.
I really hate to be negative – but I was quite shocked about the lack of customer service at Ayers Rock Resort generally. For example, while the gentleman was mostly helpful at check-in, when I asked about a tour for that evening he didn’t want a bar of helping me. Then when I rang the tour desk I was asked where I was staying so I could book with reception.
Amenities at the campground were also not the greatest – toilets overflowing, sinks leaking, no camp kitchen close by.
Poor service and amenities aside, it was still a good base to explore Uluru and Kata-Tjuta. Although – if you don’t mind driving an hour each way – consider staying at Curtain Springs Cattle Station. And even if you don’t stay there – make sure you stop in and to the paper making tour. There are two daily at 10:30am and 4:30pm (although, it pays to double check in case it changes!).
Evening activities aren’t at Uluru
Camel rides, star gazing, Field of Light – they are not evening tours at Uluru. Instead you’re taken to areas around Yulara – the township just before you enter the National Park. I do believe you can see Uluru in the distance though on camel rides and at the Field of Light exhibition.
That being said, we did do the star gazing tour though and thoroughly enjoyed it. There’s even a specific family friendly session. It’s at a reasonable hour, a step for little people to reach the telescope is provided, and the guide genuinely answered the many questions from the young guests…. even if he had just answered that very question!
To meet this guy
On our last day exploring the park we were driving back and happened upon this little guy trying to cross the road. It was absolutely the highlight of our time in Uluru! It's a thorny devil and they move slower than a snail - apparently. Thankfully a tour guide stopped and let us know to shift him off the road. We had to place in the same path and facing the same direction to help him on his journey.