Uluru has been an inspiriation for travelers from around the globe to visit the land down under for over 60 years. That is right, just 60 years. The national park has been formally known as Ayers Rock but the original tribal name is now official one.
We were lucky enough to work on the Cattle Station Curtin Springs, which is located close to the famous rock. (you can read more about life in a dessert here)
We have learned from our bosses that when they came here back in 1950’s to start the cattle business, there where only 6 visitors come down the road in a whole year! It is really hard to imagine it now, knowing that the Ayers Rock resort – Yulara is visited by hundreds of thousands tourists each year.
It only has been late XX century when the touristic business escalated, road has been paved and all the hotels and amenities had been build.
Don’t mistake Mt Conner with Uluru!
With all that knowledge you can imagine how much the environment has changed in last decades for the local people living here. The Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is located on aboriginal land and their people actively help to run in. To get here, you can fly in to the small airport at the resort, or take the Lesseter Highway from Alice Springs or unsealed road from Western Australia. If you are driving in from the East do not let Mt Conner fool you. It is not the Uluru that you see already. In fact, so many people mistook Mt Conner for Uluru that it earned a nickname Fooluru.
Watch Uluru at sunset or sunrise!
As you get closer to Yulara you will notice the huge, red monolith rising from the flat desert-like landscape. It is especially magnificent at sunset and sunrise when warm beams of the soft light bring out the colour of the rock. In fact, there are designed areas meant as the best spots to marvel at Uluru as the sun goes up or down. However, they may get little busy, so if you would like to have your own spot it is quite popular with people to just stop on the side of the road. As long as you do not do it in forbidden parking zone, you should be able to have Uluru just for yourself.
There is a path leading around the base of the Rock which is over 10km long. We took a walk around to see the monolith from every angle. Speaking from the experience, we would recommend renting a bike for that path or going early in the morning or with Seagway tours. It is because the sun has no mercy and you need plenty of water for the walk. Besides, the landscape does not change that much during the walk, so it can get a little dull. Some of the most popular parts of the track lead to the waterhole and aboriginal rock paintings. As it goes for climbing to the top the park is working on closing it permanently. It is not only dangerous, but also offensive to the locals who consider Uluru the sacred place. You can learn much more about aboriginal culture and art in the visitor center located inside the park.
The Valley of the Winds
Further West within the park are the rocks of Kata Tjuta. The 36 domes are creating some wonderful deep valleys and gorges. There are two great walks there. First one, which should take you less the an hour, runs between 2 rock walls at the bottom of the gorge. As you walk alongside the cliff face you might get lucky enough to spot some rock wallabies. The second trail is called The Valley of the Winds and is a bit more difficult. It runs for over 7 km and takes you across the domes to beautiful shaded valleys. 2016 was a very wet year. They reckon there is enough rain for flowers to bloom every 7 years. We were really fortunate to see a lot of them.
Be sure to visit both: Uluru and Kata Tjuta!
If you come to this area you should really spent at least a day at Kata Tjuta as well and do not your visit to be limited only to Uluru. The park entrance fee is 25$ for 72 hours per person. There is abundance of activities, tours, restaurants and hotels at Yulara. You can chose to visit Uluru on the back of the camel, on a seagway, or even on a plane or helicopter. But nothings beats simple sitting and watching Uluru turn intensive red as the sun makes its way below the horizon.