In driving distance, it takes over a day to arrive at Ayers Rock (Uluru) from Sydney; clearly it’s no quick feat trying to travel out to this remote area in the center of the country and in the south of the Northern Territory. Once there, several attractions besides the rock lie (relatively) close by, so planning the itinerary is essential for the time-constrained traveler wishing to make the most of his or her journey.
Considerations When Planning
Main considerations involved for a trip to the Outback include time and money, as both can mean being able to make or miss a number of attractions that go hand-in-hand with Ayers Rock. Transportation issues to and from the main site can also be an issue, especially if you plan to fly into the Ayers Rock Airport in Yulara.
Day One at Ayers Rock
The absolute minimum for a trip to Ayers Rock is one day. Many travelers agree that the main attraction for this spot is being able to watch the sun set and rise, causing the colors of the rock to change extraordinarily in the process. Therefore, day trips of any kind are not recommended.
Activities you can partake in at Ayers Rock:
- Camping – Probably the most budget-friendly option for this pricey tourist destination.
- Scenic flights – Especially good if you plan to not climb onto Ayers Rock, which is a controversial activity given it being an Aboriginal spiritual site.
- Guided walks – These can be as simple as a local tour walk, but also as long as a multi-day hike on the trails surrounding the region.
- Camel riding – Best enjoyed at dusk or dawn.
While the actual rock – Ayers Rock – can be photographed and hiked around in a single day, the region offers several other popular attractions, such as the Olgas and Kings Canyon.
Day Two at the Olgas
The Olgas, or Kata Tjuta, is located just 16 miles east of Ayers Rock, in the same national park: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The Olgas are 36 large rock formations composed also of the arkose sandstone as the monolith of Ayers Rock. The area here, since so close, can be treated as a day trip before heading back to the same camp or accommodation as the night before.
Besides the scenic panoramas, the main activity here is walking one (or both) of the two remaining walking paths: Walpa Gorge Walk (1.6 miles or 2.6 km) and Valley of the Winds Walk (4.6 miles or 7.4 km).
Day Three at Kings Canyon
After enjoying yet another sunrise over Uluru, the drive to Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park, 193 miles away, should begin. The Rim Walk (3.73 miles), although promoted towards more fit walkers, is one of the top attractions at Kings Canyon since it provides such spectacular views of the looming rock walls, valleys and waterholes that make the landscape in these parts famous.