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The article is written by Candice Locklee

If you’ve ever seen a photo of Australia, chances are you’ve seen Uluru before – it’s a massive red sandstone rock rising out of the desert in the heart of the Australian Outback. Believed to be over 500 million years old, the site is sacred to Indigenous communities and draws over 250,000 people from all over the world every year.

If it’s not at the top of your bucket list – it should be! Uluru is the ultimate Australian experience and a once in a lifetime chance to immerse yourself in the ancient culture and history of our Indigenous people and their land. The best part is that even after you’re done marveling at Uluru, there’s still plenty of other activities and sites to soak in while you’re there.

With so much to do and 48 hours to do it in, here’s our guide to making the most out of a memorable trip to the Red Centre.

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THE FACTS

Uluru sits in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and is approximately 450km from the nearest major town – Alice Springs.

The monolith stands at an incredible height of 348 meters above the ground (that’s higher than the Eiffel Tower!) and if you were to walk all around the base you would find yourself walking a circumference of around 10 km.

If Uluru is a must-see, the domes of Kata Tjuta are a close second. Also known as the Olgas, Kata Tjuta is a group of 36 large domed rocks that are located about 50km from Uluru and can be visited on the same day as both major attractions are in the same park.

The highest dome, Mount Olga, stands at an awe-inspiring 546 meters above the plain which makes it almost 200 meters taller than Uluru itself!

It can get scorching hot here in summer and reach temperatures of 47 degrees Celsius. However, the area also receives a ton of rainfall each year and temperatures can get as low as 7 degrees Celsius during winter nights.

The park is also home to a huge range of native flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for the different species – including 21 mammals, 73 reptiles, 178 birds and 4 frogs, as well as over 400 species of plants in the area that are often used as traditional medicines by the Indigenous communities.

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THINGS TO DO

ULURU AND KATA TJUTA SUNRISE AND SUNSET

Watching the sun rise and sink behind Uluru and Kata Tjuta is our number one pick of things to do in the area. Pick a spot, get your camera ready and see both the sky and the rock slowly change colours in a magical experience you won’t forget anytime soon.

There are a number of main viewing areas for watching the sunrise and sunset.

Talinguru Nyakunytjaku is considered the most popular viewing platform in the area. It offers 360-degree views of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta set against the desert with a few kilometers of walking track so you can pick a secluded spot and snap as many pics as you like without interruption.

The Kata Tjuta Dune Viewing area is another popular spot where you can have access to panoramic views of Kata Tjuta with Uluru in the background. It’s a fantastic spot if you want to capture the sun on the rocks at sunrise and the beauty of silhouettes against a red sky at sunset.

There are also bus viewing carparks available. After 4pm, the area is reserved for buses and coaches only where you are free to walk the 500m Dune Walk to a platform that offers scenic views of Uluru and the dunes of Kata Tjuta. There is also a carpark for car sunset viewing if you arrive in your own vehicle.

For a map of the area that includes sunrise and sunset viewing locations, check out the helpful link at the bottom of the post.

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WALKS

Climbing Uluru is disrespectful to the ancient Indigenous tribes who inhabit the area. However, there are plenty of walks available that will take you around the monolith and off into the stunning Australian outback.

One of the most popular is the Uluru Base Walk that will take you around the bottom of Uluru in a 10 km circular track that will take about 3 and a half hours to complete. This is the best walk to do if you’re looking to experience a range of awe-inspiring landscapes – including woodlands, grasslands, and waterholes – as well as any number of native animals and plants that inhabit the area.

It’s recommended to start in the morning at the Mala carpark, where you also have the option of joining a ranger-guided Mala walk for free where you can learn all about the Anangu culture and the history of the rock art in the area. From here, you can continue on to the Uluru Base Walk.

For those who truly want to experience the spirit of the Red Centre and the meaning of solitude, why not take on the Valley of the Winds? This is a challenging 7km walk that takes you through steep and rocky terrain with many steps, valleys, and creeks along the way. There are a number of lookouts, including Karu and Karingana, and we guarantee the jaw-dropping views at the end of it will make the effort worth it!

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TOURS

Uluru and the surrounding areas are rich in Indigenous history and cultural traditions. Taking a tour will ensure that you really get the most out of the experience by learning from a local expert of the land.

Some of our faves are –

Camel rides: What better way to experience the desert landscape than on top of a great, friendly camel? Take a camel ride into the Central Australian Desert and explore this breathtaking region just like the early pioneers did from $80. Tours run from morning to afternoon. Check this link for more info and to book a tour.

Art Tours and Workshops: Maraku is a locally owned organisation teaching and celebrating the ancient arts of the Anangu people that specialise in paintings and wooden sculptures. One of the best ways to understand Indigenous art and its history is to take a dot painting workshop. These are taught by a local Anangu artist who will guide you through creating your very own masterpiece while explaining the significance of the tradition to you. Adults are $69 and classes run twice daily. Check the link.

Free Tours: Ayers Rock Resort offers a number of free tours and workshops in the area. Sit in on a Bush Yarn and listen to an Indigenous Storyteller tell you all about the history of the land and traditional bush tucker. Take an Ecology and Museum Tour to educate yourself about the flora, fauna, and geography of the area or visit the Mani Mani Indigenous Cultural Theatre for a thrilling performance of ancient Aboriginal stories. Follow the link to book the daily activities.

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THINGS TO KNOW

The closest airport is Connellan Airport, located about 10 minutes away from Ayers Rock Resort (Yulara). Flights from Sydney and Melbourne will take about 3 hours to 3 and a half hours to fly to the Red Centre. Free shuttle buses are available to take you from the airport to Yulara.

All accommodation is located in Yulara, just outside of the park boundaries. Yulara offers a range of different types of accommodation to suit your budget – from hostels and camping to hotels.

There are a number of ways to get from Ayers Rock Resort to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park but using the Uluru Hop On Hop Off shuttle service is a great option. A return transfer starts at $49 and you can choose from between a 1, 2 or 3-day pass. You can hop on and hop off as many times as you like and the bus stops at all major attractions along the way. Check the link for more info.

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HELPFUL LINK

Follow this link to download a digital version of the Uluru Visitor Guide – it’s packed full of interesting things to do and details on how to do them, maps, helpful tips, historical information and need-to-know info before you begin your trip.

You should also visit the Cultural Centre located at the base of Uluru where you can pick up a copy of the Visitor Guide, ask about sunrise and sunset times, book tours and get an introduction to the land from local experts.

 

If you’re an international student living in Australia and want to explore this amazing country of ours, visit website Study Anywhere for more info, tips and tricks.

 

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