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Estimated to be about 600 million years old, Ayers Rock is an eye catching large red sandstone rock in the Australian desert. Also known as Uluru in its native Aboriginal language, Ayers Rock has earned its reputation as one of Australia’s most recognizable landmarks. Uluru rises 348 meters above the ground and has a circumference of nearly 10 miles.
Its ochre red beauty combines with the angle of the sun, minerals in the rock and the reflection of the surrounding soil to form one of Australia’s top 10 sunsets. What’s more, Uluru was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1987. All this, and its epic size has made it a popular travel destination for locals and tourists from all over the world.
Seasons in Australia
Unlike other northern hemispheres, seasons in Australia are a bit different. If you are planning to visit Uluru, it’s therefore imperative to take this into consideration.
June, July, and August make up the cold winter season. The temperature is usually high from 17-22C (62-70F) and low from 5 oC to 3 oC making nights to be too cold.
Spring starts from September and ends in the last days of November. The temperature is usually high from 26-34C (79-94F). At night, it reaches between 9-17C (48-62F) which makes for mild weather.
Summer covers December, January, and February. The temperatures are very high on these months with daytime temperature between 30-38C+ (86-100F). At night, the temperature is low from 17-21C (62-69F).
Autumn includes the months of March, April and May and brings in moderate temperatures. An average of 23-28C (71-82F) during the day, and 8-17C (46-62F) at night.
Best Month(s) to Visit Ayers Rock
To better enjoy Uluru scenery, and so that temperatures do not take you by surprise, the best months to visit Uluru is between August and September. Other months can have very cold temperatures at night, even though the days still bring nice, warm weather.
The period between August and September is the best time to visit as it has tolerable weather at night time, being between 10-18C / 50-6F, and warm weather during the day.
How to Get to Ayers Rock?
Although Ayers Rock is far from the main cities, there are several options to reach it.
Bus: You can decide to travel by road by either taking a bus or hiring a car. There are various companies available to transport you to and from Ayers Rock with buses that are designed for comfort to ensure you enjoy the journey.
Care Hire: Alternatively, if you want to be more flexible with your journey, hiring a car is an option with the most flexibility. Apart from making all the stops you want along the road to take pictures of the mesmerizing landscapes, you will also enjoy stopping at nearby towns. However if you choose this option do your research and make sure you have enough petrol and spare tires incase things go pear-shaped.
Flying: If you decide to fly to Uluru / Ayers Rock, there are two airlines that fly direct from Sydney. These are Jestar and Virgin Australia. Another option is Qantas which flies from Alice Springs and Cairns.
Note that, it takes different times to reach Ayers Rock from the main cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Alice Springs, and Perth. Therefore coming from Sydney by flight it takes around three hours and a half, by road 30 hours. Melbourne takes 3 hours by flight and 25 hours by road.
Coming from Brisbane or Perth, flight duration for both is four and seven hours respectively. By road, Brisbane is 34 hours and Perth 38 hours. Alice Spring is the nearest and you’ll use 45 minutes by flight and 6 hours by road.
Tips for Visiting Ayers Rock
Going into the outback in a foreign country can be a little overwhelming. If you are planning a trip to Ayer’s Rock, here are some essential tips to guide you.
Self-Guided Trip or a Tour Guide
As mentioned above, you have a choice of flying or using a car to Ayers Rock. However, because of the long distance from the main cities, the easiest option is to take a flight to Alice Spring and thereafter a hire a car to take you around the area. If you are not comfortable driving, consider a tour from Alice Springs.
Consider the Days You Plan to Visit
To enjoy watching the breathtaking sunrise and sunset, you need to stay there for more than one day. There are a number of things to see and do around Alice Springs, so consider that when planning how long you’ll stay in the area.
Carry Your Own Food and Water
The central part of Australia is expensive when it comes to food, and that’s on top of Australia being expensive in general. Therefore to avoid using more than you have budgeted, buy food wisely in Alice Springs.
Remember to carry a lot of water since Ayers Rock is situated in the desert. This will come in handy for any other sightseeing you do in the area as well, since it can get rather hot in the Northern Territory.
Purchase a Fly Net
If you’re serious on avoiding being pestered by flies, consider purchasing a fly net. The net keeps the flies away as you move around taking pictures. To be able to keep away the net from your face, wear the net over a hat.
Alternatively you could go full Australian and get one of those country hats with corks hanging down (imagine how cool your Instagram photos will look, IMAGINE).
Pack Comfortable Clothes and Clothes
Since Ayers Rock is situated in a desert, pack light clothes to help avoid sweating yourself into dehydration. To keep warm through the night, you will need to pack some warm clothes though.
Also, don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes since you will be walking a lot during the day.
Respect the Aboriginal Signs
There are many signs around the site and the foot of the Ayers Rock. These signs have been put up by the native people known as Anangu who come from the area. To avoid going against their request, take time to read those signs as you walk around the site.
The most emphasized sign known by everyone but ignored by some is at the foot of the rock. The sign requests the visitors not to climb the rock. According to the Anangu, the rock is sacred and is of great cultural significance, additionally they do not want anyone to get hurt.
However, not every visitor respects this request and some decide to take the risk and climb the rock. Unfortunately for those who attempt to climb it, not all have survived the climb. Over 35 people have died since 1940 when the site became a tourist attraction and dozens have been injured.
Is Travel Insurance Necessary?
Since accidents can happen anywhere in the world, it’s advisable to buy travel insurance, especially as an international tourist. I personally use and recommend World Nomads and have even claimed a pay out with them in the past.
I use them as I find them to be lower priced, flexible and the claiming process is straight forward. Browse prices here.
Which Towns are the Best to Stay In?
Since Ayers Rock is situated in a desert, there are not many towns near it. However, for the towns near the site, there are a few that offer comfortable rooms such as Yulara and Mutitjulu.
Yulara is town located 20 km away from the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National park, and is equipped with hotels, restaurants, gift shops and a few other handy services.
Mutitjulu on the other hand is a native town inside the national park, and is named after a knee-shaped waterhole. It has several hotels that offer great service.