uluru sunset

A weekend away in Uluru, Australia

I highly recommend staying longer than a weekend away in Uluru, but if you are time poor and only have a weekend, we have some suggestions below to cram your 2 days with.
Having lived in Australia since I was 6 years old, I was always curious to see Uluru in person. The monolith in the middle of the desert was something that I had seen on many a postcard and travel advertisements, however seeing it in person and standing at the base of the rock I wasn’t prepared for its beauty, sheer size and presence.

2-Aug-14VA1627 SYD-AYQOutback Pioneer Hotel
Walpa Gorge
Cultural Centre
Uluru base walk
Uluru sunset
4-Aug-14VA1628 AYQ-SYD

Walk through Kata-Tjuta (The Olgas)

cost               95 AUD/person
We booked the ‘Kata-Tjuta in the morning’ UE05 transfer through Uluru Express and chose the Walpa Gorge walk. Note, the cost above is for the transfer only and does not include a tour guide or the National Park entry fee which is additional 25 AUD/person, valid for three days. Pickup was at 08:45 from our hotel the next morning. From the resort, it is a 30-45 minute drive to Kata-Tjuta. Our driver stopped by a lookout point near the WA border for photos.
At Walpa Gorge, it is an easy 1 hour return walk from the start and end of the gorge. During the walk, we saw a few streams of water and lush vegetation which lined both sides of the path as well as some caves in the rock. Our transfer picked us up around 11:15 and we arrived back at the resort by 11:45.

dirt road leading to WA border
The dirt road leading to the WA border

Kata-Tjuta from a lookout point
Kata-Tjuta from a lookout point

walpa gorge walk at Kata-Tjuta
Walpa Gorge walk at Kata-Tjuta


Walk the perimeter of Uluru

cost               70 AUD/person
We booked the ‘Uluru and Sunset UE03’ through Uluru Express.
We were picked up up at the resort at 12:00 and arrived at the Cultural Centre by 12:30. At the Cultural Centre, we read about the traditional owners the Anangu, and their connection with the land. It was insightful and there, I changed my mind about climbing Uluru. After a visit to the centre and reading about its significance, I decided not to out of respect.
From the Cultural Centre to the base of Uluru, it is a pleasant 2 km walk through a flat path lined with colourful wild flowers and trees. The base walk is 10.6 km and in winter, it should take 3 hours at a leisurely pace. I highly recommend exploring the base as there are many physical and cultural elements of the rock that you can’t see from afar.
The transfer bus picked us up at 17:30 from Mala carpark. We drove around the circumference of the rock and headed off towards the lookout point. We watched as the rock turned 50 shades of red, and the sky a gradient mix of pastel colours as the sun went down behind us. We arrived back at the resort around 19:00.

the steep climb up the side of uluru
The steep climb up the side of Uluru

sunset view of Kata-Tjuta
Sunset view of Kata-Tjuta (The Olgas) in the background from the coach/tour group lookout point


Eating in the Resort grounds

If you’re staying within the resort complex, there are a few dining options available at every price point.
For the budget conscious traveller, there is an IGA Supermarket on the premise where you can purchase fruits, hot roast chickens, bread and prepackaged salads for your meals. If you have a little coin left over, the Outback Pioneer Kitchen is a small canteen style establishment priced at 9-14 AUD per main. I had fish and chips here at 9.50 AUD which was a bargain. And try their chicken wrap, its delicious.
For a taste of the east, Ayers Wok (lol!) in the resort square, offers South East Asian inspired food. Its a little pricey for takeaway food in my opinion at around 16 AUD for mains but the servings are generous.
If you want to splurge a little, the Bough House Restaurant is in a nice country style setting. Mains were at priced around 25-35 AUD.
The menu offered some native themed foods such as emu sausage and buffalo meat pies. I wasn’t feeling like eating any local fauna so opted for something a little less exotic. All mains came with dessert in the form of a buffet bar.
Try the chicken and prosciutto with salsa and roasted vegetables.

We stayed at:

cost                  273 AUD
breakfast           not included
wifi                   available for an additional fee
The Outback Pioneer Hotel is located in Ayers Rock Resort in the township of Yulara – a 15 minute drive from Conellan (Ayers Rock AYQ) Airport. Transfers to and from the airport were complimentary, in a comfortable air conditioned AAT Kings coach. I rated the location as excellent as the town centre is only a 5-10 minute walk away from the hotel, or a 5 minute drive in the complimentary transfer shuttle, stopping at various locations.
The Ayers Rock resort is comprised of 4 different accommodation options, satisfying all ends of the economic scale. The Outback Pioneer Hotel caters for the budget traveller and backpackers, having both dormitory and private room options. On arrival at reception, we lined up to check in. One of the team members served people waiting in line a cup of their soup of the day which they were serving in the Bough House restaurant. The soup was tasty and a nice warm welcome gesture. Check in was a smooth process and we were given a key each.
The hotel room had a queen bed, single bed, tv, mini bar, wardrobe, iron and kettle- all you need in a short stay. Although the hotel was dated, the room and bathroom were clean, and maintained well. The bathroom was also stocked with a nice range of complimentary toiletries.

We liked:

Their welcome soup!
The complimentary shows and activities within the resort
Complimentary airport transfer


There is an IGA supermarket in the town centre where you can buy groceries – perfect for the budget conscious traveller
I would recommend hiring a car so you can do everything at your own pace. It seemed pretty easy to get around – there is plenty of directional signage to the lookout points.
If you are flying out of AYQ, there is a PC in the hotel reception where you can check in online & print your boarding pass
Bring warm clothing – although it is in the desert, during winter it gets quite cool especially during sunrise & sunset
Make sure you check out the various lookout points at the resort – they have good vantage points and is a good place to meet other travellers
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