By now I am sure you’ve seen the uncanny images of Australia compared to the US and Europe in size. While a little intimidating, they are an accurate representation of just how wide-spread this Island truly is. With masses of barren land taking up most of the inland area; industry and residence is concentrated across the coastline. In fact, every Australian capital city, except Canberra (national capital), borders ocean. With all the sights and sounds on the coast, is it really worth travelling to Uluru?
…and here’s why Uluru should be at the top of your list when you decide to visit Australia.
Where is it exactly?
Uluru or Ayers Rock is found in the Kata Tjuta National park in Northern Territory (NT), one of eight states and territories of Australia.
How do I get there?
Being in the centre of a country the size of 7 western European countries, you can be assured there is going to be some transit involved. Fortunately, there are many transportation options at your disposal, offering their own unique experiences.
Using Sydney as a starting point.
Car/Van : Expect 2 days on the road – roughly 30 hours of travel time. Exploring the various terrains that Australia has to offer, the rustic traveller will enjoy this option.
Fly: 3-4 hours direct flight time. This the most common method of transportation to Uluru. Being so far away from all the capital cities, most travellers want to just ‘get there’ through the most efficient means possible. During peak season – the Aussie winter, May to October – flights can fill up quite quickly, so be sure to plan ahead. The two carriers that I recommend flying with are Qantas and Virgin Australia. These are Australia’s preeminent interstate carriers and therefore offer multiple daily non-stop flights to Uluru. Other options may fly to Uluru at obscure times, with stops.
Flying to Alice Springs: Alice Springs is the closest major town to the Kata-Tjuta National Park. Many people choose to take a flight into Alice Springs, followed by driving or a bus to Uluru. This is a good option if you want to save on time (by flying) but also experience everything the Australian outback has to offer (by driving), and not spend 2 days in a car. Uluru is about 500kms from Alice Springs, so expect to be behind the wheel for 5 to 6 hours.
When is the best time to go?
Temperatures around Uluru sway with the seasons. The best time to travel is between May and October – Aussie Autumn and Winter. Temperatures are comfortable, staying between 20 – 30 degrees Celsius. The warmer months can average in the high 30’s and reach the high 40’s. With the heat also comes showers and lightening – excellent for photography but not so ideal if you are travelling with family. If you are on a budget, however, flights to Uluru tend to be cheaper between October and April.
Why should I go to Uluru?
I recall the first time I saw the Taj Mahal. After seeing it in books, on posters, on the internet, in photos, on place mats, on the back of cigarette packets, pretty much on anything that had print; I thought to myself, “yeah it looks big, but how big can it really be?” I tell you, every time I go back, it seems to just get bigger or my eye-sight is shrinking! I’ve only been to Uluru once and admittedly, I held similar sentiments to that of the Taj. Uluru is a goliath. Larger than life. While the Taj Mahal is architecturally flawless, pristine and modern (relatively speaking); Uluru is ancient, rugged and intimidating. Surrounded by plain grassland, Uluru offers a unique native Australian experience. There are no latte serving cafeterias, no vending machines and no boomerang-filled souvenir shops. This is a truly natural Australian experience, and that is what makes the national park so special, not only for the first inhabitants of Australia but its current citizens.
Uluru holds deep ancestral ties to the first inhabitants of the land, the Australian aboriginals. You may be fortunate enough to meet indigenous Australians during your travels and learn about their history and culture. You may also come to understand their tumultuous journey from ruling the land for many thousands of years to the atrocities committed during colonisation. While this article does not go into the specific spiritual significance of Uluru or the cultural heartland that surrounds it; suffice to say, this natural phenomena is not only a representation of the aboriginal people but a mark of their resilience over time.