It is the subject of great stories. Stories that are legendary and are 20,000 years in the making. Dreamtime stories of the local Aboriginal people and their sacred sites. And no wonder it's a wonder - this single piece of red rock is magical. You can feel it. It has an energy all it's own.
Uluru is spectacular. From a distance, its size in the landscape is incredible. Up close it's humbling. And then, at sunset and sunrise, it just takes your breath away.
I travelled with a tour group and there was not a single person on the bus who wasn't in awe of being there - at Uluru. Most of those I travelled with were from overseas - their trip highlight (as mine was) was to visit Uluru.
We visited Kata Tjuta first, then headed to Uluru for a sunset viewing. I had a feeling that there would be quite a few people at the sunset viewing areas, but I was not expecting the hundreds of people who were there. I was in the bus viewing area - quite separate to the place where cars, campervans and mini buses go. I would guess that there were possibly the same number of people in the car area too, judging by the heavy volume of traffic leaving the area after sunset. It was as busy as a main highway.
In the very early hours of the next morning, we were on the bus again and headed back in to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, this time for sunrise.
We skipped going to the sunrise viewing area due to the time of year that we visited. During the winter months, the sun does not hit the rock at sunrise at all, so it can be a bit of a disappointment for some. Our tour leader took us straight to the rock and we had the area (and the brilliant sunrise views) almost completely to ourselves.
All of the paths were flat and wheelchair friendly. It was easy going and the area was well signposted with a heap of interesting information posted about each viewing spot. Wander the area and read the story of Minyma (woma python woman) and Wati Liru (poisonous snake man).
We continued around Uluru and stopped at the starting point for the Mala Walk - a free guided tour of Anangu "school". It's absolutely fascinating and a unique experience that I highly recommend. You can read about my walk here.
After our Mala Walk, we visited the Cultural Centre where there is a brilliant display of Aboriginal art and visual displays. There's a cafe, amenities and is a great place to buy some authentic Aboriginal artworks.
My visit to Uluru was finished off in style. The 3 of us took a helicopter flight from Yulara to Uluru in what would have to be one of the greatest aerial experiences that you will ever have! What a way to end my visit! You can read about my flight here.
Uluru was absolutely everything that I thought it would be, with the exception that it just wasn't long enough! I would dearly love to go back.
Uluru is quite a difficult place to get to for the average visitor. The travelling there involves hours on a plane and then many more on the road, but it's totally worth it.
You can fly in to Alice Springs and then drive yourself the 460 kilometres to Yulara. Or, you can book a tour company to do the driving for you - book a Red Centre highlights tour for 3 days and see all the best parts.
Major airlines now fly direct into Ayers Rock Airport and hire cars are available.
All of the roads to Uluru and the surrounding areas are sealed.
Book with a tour company and stay in one of their private camp grounds. A very low cost of around $400 will get you 3 days of Red Centre touring (visitng Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon), permanent tent accommodation, all meals and park entry fees.
There's also a caravan park and lots of self-contained accommodations. Something to suit all budgets.
To climb or not to climb?:
Climbing is allowed, but the Anangu people ask that you respect their wishes and their culture and walk around the rock, instead of over it. The waterholes at Uluru are no longer used for drinking due to the filth that gets washed down from the rock when it rains - disgusting and dirty items that are 'left' behind by some climbers. There are no toilets at the top of the rock, what is left behind from some peoples behinds eventually filters down into the waterholes, contaminating them.
Always carry water with you when visiting the outback. At least 1 litre of water per hour that you are there.
Wear good walking shoes.
Apply sunblock and wear a hat - a hat with a fly net over it is an added bonus. They may look strange, but your sanity will be saved.
Stay on the marked tracks.
There is no internet or phone signal inside the National Park. Download a map to your phone prior to entering the park, or carry one with you.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park:
Entry into the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park costs $25 per person for a 3 day pass. There is no charge for children under 16 years of age. The opening hours change each month according to the sunrise and sunset times. Camping and dogs are not permitted in the park and the park closes each night shortly after sunset. Uluru is approximately 20kms from Yulara.