Without a doubt, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park needs to be on the bucket list of every Australian. It’s the spiritual heart of Australia, a place that needs to be felt to be understood, a place that will leave you speechless the first time you visit. Just the colours of the landscape in the park alone are unlike anywhere else in the world. From the bright red sand and the infamous colour-changing rock itself, to the surrounding almost white grass and dark green trees, it’s a beautiful earthy pallet.
But there’s actually so much more to Uluru than just visiting the rock itself. There are so many amazing bucket list experiences to explore around Uluru, that are sure to make your visit even more special. From cultural experiences, artistic workshops, exquisite dining experiences and once in a lifetime evenings, you’re going to want to leave yourself a little bit of time to explore the best of Uluru.
Here are 10 of the can’t miss experiences at Uluru that you should absolutely think about adding to your bucket list.
In this post:
Visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
There is normally an entry fee to visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which costs $25 per adult for a three day pass. However, to help tourism and encourage visitors to Uluru they have waived the entry fee until the 31st of December 2020, so you can visit the national park for free!
To get a pass simply head straight to the park and the ranger at the gate will print out a pass for you to use during your visit. If you want to visit for longer you can simply get a new one when the first expires. AMAZING!
Top 10 best experiences in Uluru:
1. Watch the sunrise over Uluru
There’s not much better than watching the sun peaking over the horizon and lighting up the skies over Uluru. Due to the desert location of Uluru there are clear skies most of the time, offering a stunning sunrise as the world begins to light up for the day.
We found that the early mornings were our favourite time of the day in Central Australia, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was slowly starting to come alive and the colours of the park were just incredible, changing all the time as the sun got higher in the sky. The grass seemed almost completely white, with Uluru and the surrounding trees standing out in vibrant colour. It is absolutely worth the very early wake up time. Follow the signs that say Talinguru Nyakunytjaku to get to the sunrise viewing platform.
Hot tip: The sunrise and sunset platforms are positioned so that visitors can experience the beautiful changing colours of Uluru as the sun rises or sets. If you would like to see the sun actually rising or setting over Uluru, head to the opposite platform – i.e., the sunset platform at sunrise. Not only do you get to see the sun coming up over the rock, but you will also have the viewing platform almost all to yourself.
2. Take a sunset scenic flight
Get ready to be blown away when you see Uluru from the sky. The views are even more beautiful from the air and you can see just how vast and expansive the outback of Central Australia is. Take a scenic flight at sunset or sunrise to see the colours of the outback really come to life, changing as you fly through the skies in all kinds of vibrant hues.
We jumped on a scenic flight with Fly Uluru who own Ayers Rock Scenic Flights and Ayers Rock Helicopters and it was such an amazing experience. Since you are not allowed to drone in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park jumping onto a scenic flight is the best way to see this epic landscape from the air, and we could not recommend a sunset flight more.
There are a few different flight options on offer, depending on how far you want to explore, and you can choose to fly either by plane or helicopter. We would recommend at the very least doing the flight that takes you to both Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Seeing Kata Tjuta was absolutely amazing, seeing all 36 domes at once from the sky is unlike any views you could get from the ground. They even fly all the way out to Kings Canyon, so you can really see a lot of the outback on your flight!
Due to Covid-19 Fly Uluru has made every flight a private flight, so you have the whole plane to yourself and won’t be grouped with any other parties. Requires a minimum of two people to fly.
For more information visit the Yulara Visitors Centre or check out their website – www.flyuluru.com.au
3. Visit Kata Tjuta
There is an ongoing debate about whether Kata Tjuta (also known as The Olgas) is even more impressive than the main attraction of Uluru. While we will let you decide about that for yourself, we can tell you that Kata Tjuta does hold some seriously impressive statistics and is a beautiful sight to see for yourself.
The entirety of Kata Tjuta consists of 36 domes, with the highest rising 546 metres above the land, which is 198 higher than Uluru! Kata Tjuta is about half an hour or so further into the park than Uluru, but it’s absolutely worth the journey. It’s just stunning! If you’re thinking of booking a scenic flight make sure you choose the option that includes Kata Tjuta as well, it was absolutely incredible from the sky.
There are a couple of different hikes that can be taken around Kata Tjuta, with the longest and most beautiful known as Valley of the Winds. There is also a sunset viewing platform right near Kata Tjuta itself, while the sunrise platform can be found a little further down the road. There only bathroom facilities near Kata Tjuta can be found at the sunset viewing area.
4. See the Field of Light
The Field of Light has become a global phenomenon and a truly remarkable art instillation by internationally acclaimed artist Bruce Munro. Originally only intended to be on display for one year in 2016, it was extended for a second until March in 2018, due to insane popularity, and then again for a third season until the last day of 2020. In the local Pitjantjatjara language the exhibition is named Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku which means ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’ and is Munro’s largest piece to date, with more than 50,000 slim stems sprawled across the outback field.
Book yourself onto a Star Pass experience, where you can watch the sun set over the installation, while darkness descends over the outback and the bulbs slowly flicker to light. It is an absolutely incredible way to experience the Field of Light and we couldn’t recommend it highly enough. We did the Star Pass experience on both of our visits to Uluru and it only gets better each time you see it!
Tickets to the Field of Light start from $39 per adult to just see the instillation, or $85 per adult for the Star Pass Experience. There are a number of other experiences as well that combines the Field of Light with some of Uluru’s top attractions, including a camel ride through the desert, the Sounds of Silence dinner and even a helicopter ride. You can find our more about the packages and options available on the Voyages Field of Light website.
5. Ride a camel through the outback
For another unique way to see and experience Uluru jump on one of their famous camel tours. Such a unique way to explore the outback of Central Australia and they make for a surprisingly comfy ride. Camels actually used to be the main outback transport until the railways and roads were developed in Central Australia, so it’s kind of like a step back into the old desert days.
There are a few different ways to experience a camel ride with Uluru Camel Tours, the local camel farm right in the Ayers Rock Resort. They are the largest camel farm in Australia, with more than 80 camels on their farm. There are a few different ways to experience a camel ride at Uluru with sunset and sunrise tours available, as well as shorter rides throughout the day. We actually combined our camel ride with the Field of Light Experience so we got to ride the camels all the way to the light field!
Whether you decide to ride a camel or not, you should definitely go down the the Camel Farm during your visit to Uluru. It’s free to enter and you can make friends with some of their camels and also check out the grounds of the infamous Uluru Camel Cup! Make sure you take a wander down to the Funny Farm as they call it, where they have a baby camel running around with all kinds of other farm animals. They all love a pat and will come running straight to you.
Uluru Camel Farm || 10 Kali Court, Yulara || Ph: (08) 8956 3333
6. Have dinner at the Sounds of Silence
One of the top bucket list experiences in Uluru is the Sounds of Silence Dinner. This experience has even been entered into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame, as a can’t miss bucket list experience for anyone visiting Yulara and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
The Sounds of Silence Dinner offers an evening of dining under the stars of the outback, with Uluru watching over you as the perfect back drop. The dinner itself offers a three course meal, serving up some of the best Australian wine and beer, as well as a bush tucker inspired menu including grilled barramundi, wild kangaroo fillet and house-smoked crocodile. As the night sets over Uluru you can enjoy the sounds of a didgeridoo performance, and later a guided tour of the night sky.
For the ultimate night: If just one magical experience isn’t enough, you can upgrade your Sounds of Silence dinner to A Night at Field of Light, combining your dinner with the Field of Light experience.
7. Learn how to create a traditional dot painting
Note: Due to Covid-19 the Dot Painting Workshops have been cancelled until further notice, most likely resuming in 2021. If you are visiting in 2020 check before your visit to see if the workshops are running.
For a beautiful insight into the local Indigenous cultures, learn how to create a dot painting with a local Anangu artist at the Maruku Arts Dot Painting Workshop. Anangu paintings are created for educational and ceremonial purposes, as well as a way of telling stories of events that have occurred in the past. During the workshops you learn about the different symbols depicting the Creation Time stories, known as Tjukurpa in the local language and try your hand at your own dot painting.
Dot Painting Workshops run for an hour and a half cost $72 per adult or $36 per child, and are held twice each day, once in the morning (11:30am from April to September and 10:30am from October to March) and once in the afternoon (2pm April to September and 1:30pm October to March).
8. Complete the Uluru Base Walk
The most physical way to experience Uluru is to walk the entire way around it’s base. A walking path circles around the rock that stretches out for 10.6 kilometres, or over 11 kilometres if you take a detour to the Mutitjulu Waterhole, that can be either walked, cycled or even experienced by segway if you wanted to book a tour.
In the summer months and days of extreme heat it is recommended that you finish the base walk before 11am to avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration. Make sure you wear sunscreen and a hat for your walk and take enough drinking water to last the whole way around.Very little of the walking path is shaded, with no facilities available so be prepared before you start.
If 10.6 kilometres sounds a little bit too long for you, there are several other walks you can take around Uluru, including:
- The Mala Walk: 2 kilometres return, 1.5 hours – you can also complete the Mala Walk with a ranger to learn more about Uluru, it’s history and significant meaning to the local Indigenous tribes in the area.
- The Kuniya Walk: 1 kilometre return, 30-40 minutes – this one includes visiting the Mutitjulu Waterhole
9. Take advantage of Ayers Rock Resort’s free experiences
The Ayers Rock Resort has an amazing program of free activities to introduce you to the local Indigenous culture of the local Anangu culture. You can join a story telling circle for a Bush Yarn to learn about some of the traditional hunting items used in the area. Take a Guided Garden Walk to find out more about the plants of the Western Desert and the ways in which they were and are used by the local communities. Or learn how to make some delicious shortbread in a Bush Tucker demonstration, just to name a few.
The activities operate daily and don’t require a booking to join, you can just show up on the day. Try to fit as many of them as you can into your stay at Ayers Rock Resort, they really give you a much greater understanding of the land you are exploring.
Check out the Ayers Rock Resort website for a complete program of free activities and their operating times.
10. Watch the sunset over Uluru
An absolute can’t miss and one of the best ways to experience Uluru. As the sun descends under the horizon the colours of Uluru changes across a hue of red and orange, glowing at it’s brightest just before it is covered in shadows. During the dry season and the peak times in Central Australia the sunset viewing carpark can become completely full before the sun even begins to set. Make sure you get there at least an hour or so before the sunset to make sure you get good parking spot and set yourself up to watch the sun set.
It’s the best way to end the day and an absolutely amazing site. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is open until one hour after the sun sets, so you don’t have to rush to get out of the park.