Right in the middle of the Central Australian Outback, there’s not a lot around Uluru. In fact, there is only one tiny town named Yulara that is pretty much entirely made up of the Ayers Rock Resort. Really, the resort pretty much is the town, with different accommodation options, restaurants, the petrol station and the town square all found within the resort.
The Ayers Rock Resort make it worth your while to stay here during your visit though, offering a whole program of free activities to immerse yourself in the local Anangu culture and learn more about their traditions and way of life out here in the Western Desert. The resort offers accommodation options to suit every type of traveller and budget, as well as some of the best bucket list experiences Uluru has to offer.
If you’re planning a visit to Uluru, here is our complete guide to the Ayers Rock Resort and the tiny town of Yulara – your home in the middle of the outback.
How to get to Uluru
By plane: Officially named Connellan Airport, Ayers Rock Airport (AYQ) is the closest airport to Yulara and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. It’s only a short 10 minute drive from the town, with both Virgin Australia and Jetstar offering direct flights to Ayers Rock Airport from most cities around Australia.
Covid-19 update: Due to Covid-19 flights to Ayers Rock Airport are very limited in 2020, with an ongoing argument from the local people that the airport shouldn’t be open at all as they do not have adequate quarantine facilities for people flying in from hotspots around the country. The flight schedule is constantly changing, so if you’re booking a flight to AYQ make sure you’re checking for any changes or updates.
By road: Explore more of Central Australia by flying into Alice Springs and then making the road trip out to Yulara. There are many more regular flights to Alice Springs Airport (ASP) with Qantas and Virgin Australia from all states around the country. You can either choose to drive along the Stuart and Lasseter Highways which is completely sealed the whole way and takes about 5 hours, or take the scenic routes through the West MacDonnell Ranges and Red Centre Way to really explore more of this amazing region.
If you’re not driving to Uluru, it’s a good idea to rent a car when you get here. Having your own car gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore at your own pace, go wherever you’d like to in the park and explore all the different places there are to see around Yulara and the park. You can rent a car through Avis, Hertz or Thrift with pick up and drop off options available at Ayers Rock Airport and the resort.
The roads are all completely sealed around Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and even all the way out to Kings Canyon, so you will be fine with a 2WD during your visit. Find the best car rental deals for your stay at Uluru.
If you’re not driving, a free shuttle bus circulates the resort each day, departing every 20 minutes from 10:30am to 12:30am. It stops at the campground, all hotels, the Resort Town Square, Uluru Camel Farm and the Visitors Centre. It does not go out to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park though.
Ayers Rock Resort also runs complimentary transfers between the resort and the airport and they are there to meet every flight.
Ayers Rock Resort Accommodation Choices
Ayers Rock Resort actually offers several different accommodation options, with stay styles and budgets to suit everyone.
There are heaps of specials and discounts offered at Ayers Rock Resort at the moment to help encourage visitors to visit Uluru. Check out the Ayers Rock Resort website to find the best rates.
No matter where you decided to stay, as a guest of Ayers Rock Resort you have access to the facilities at all of the properties of the resort, including swimming pools, shops, tennis courts, art galleries, restaurants, tour and information centres and more. All guests at the resort also have access to the free guests activities program (more on that below), return Ayers Rock Airport transfers, and a free resort shuttle bus to get around.
Ayers Rock Campground
The perfect base for anyone road tripping across Australia and coming to Uluru with a caravan, campervan, motor home, camper trailer or tent. The campground offers two bedroom cabins, as well as powered and non-powered camp sites and is conveniently located right next to the petrol station.
Around the campground you can also find a swimming pool, playground, BBQ facilities, outdoor kitchens and laundry facilities. The campground is even pet friendly, so dogs are always welcome – although they are not allowed into Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
To make your stay in Ayers Rock as comfortable as possible, the campground also has a swimming pool, playground, BBQ facilities, outdoor kitchen and laundry facilities.
Prices start from $43 AUD for a non-powered campsite, or $50 for a powered campsite. More information here.
The Lost Camel Hotel
The newest addition to the Ayers Rock Resort family, the Lost Camel Hotel is right in the heart of the Town Square and offers boutique style hotel rooms with a twist of Aboriginal and urban themes throughout. The Lost Camel has it’s own swimming pool and is the perfect place to be if you don’t have a car, to keep you right in the middle of Yulara and the resort.
Prices start from $390 AUD per night, find out more here.
Desert Gardens Hotel
For a little more luxury, the Desert Gardens Hotel boasts 4.5 stars and has the only rooms with views of Uluru. The hotel is surrounded by beautiful native gardens and offers a range of different room options, from deluxe rock view rooms to shady poolside views.
The Desert Gardens Hotel is also home to some of Ayers Rock Resort’s best restaurants, including Mangata Bistro & Bar and Arnguli Grill & Restaurant, which both offer Australian and bush tucker inspired meals. They also offer free in-room wifi, in room dining options, free parking, a swimming pool and free guided and self-guided walks through the native gardens that surround the property.
Rooms starting from $470 AUD per night, find out more here.
Emu Walk Apartments
The Emu Walk Apartments are a great option for families, groups and those who like a little more space, with fully serviced one and two-bedroom apartments that have all the comforts of home. Each apartment offers separate kitchen, living and bedroom areas, and are only a few minutes walk away from the Town Square and supermarket.
Rooms starting from $485 AUD per night, find out more here.
Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge
The Hotel: A little more affordable, the Outback Pioneer Hotel offers comfortable hotel rooms and an environment where friendships are made. The onsite restaurant is a unique do-it-yourself Outback BBQ, offering the finest selection of meat that you can then grill to your liking on the adjacent BBQ’s while you grab a cold beer from the bar. You can also find the Bough House Restaurant here if you would like someone else to make your food!
Rooms starting from $390 AUD per night, find out more here.
The Lodge: Perfect for travellers on a budget, the Outback Lodge offers hostel style accommodation, including rooms with and without a private bathroom, large and small dorm style rooms, communal bathrooms and showers, a common room with TV and internet, and communal kitchen and laundry facilities.
The Outback Pioneer Lodge is currently closed, check out here for updates.
Sails in the Desert
A hotel who’s name really comes from it’s design – soaring white sails arch over the Sails in the Desert hotel, providing shade to the luxury five star rooms and suites below. Sails in the Desert features a huge gum tree lined swimming pool, and is home to some beautiful places within the resort, including:
- Red Ochre Spa – relax with all kinds of boutique spa treatments
- Ilkari Restaurant – feast in the brasserie-style restaurant
- Walpa Lobby Bar – great for cocktails, music and Indigenous-inspired cuisine
- Mulgara Gallery – amazing Indigenous artworks
Rooms starting from $560 AUD per night, find out more here.
Longitude 131°: For the ultimate in Outback luxury
For the most luxurious stay at Uluru, and experience like no other, Longitude 131° is the place for you. Offering Australia’s most exclusive outback encounter, with unmatched stunning views of Uluru, modern floating tent rooms that were all custom designed by different Australian designers and a completely all inclusive experience, Longitude 131° is a place that is sure to make your jaw drop.
This all inclusive experience includes a variety of signature guided experience designed exclusively for Longitude 131° guests, all dining, premium beverages and the in-tent bar, as well as expansive private balconies, a dune top bar, lounge and plunge pool, and a number of panoramic views that you can’t experience anywhere but here.
All inclusive stays start from $3,060 AUD per night | Minimum night stays do apply at several of these hotels, with discounts offered for longer stays.
Free activities at Ayers Rock Resort
No matter where you decide to stay within the resort, Ayers Rock Resort offers all guests a program of free guest experiences each day, to learn more about Indigenous Culture, the Western Desert and Australian Outback and the history of Uluru and the region.
When you check in for your stay, ask for an updated list of activities and schedule times, as they may change between us writing this post and your visit to Ayers Rock Resort.
When: Daily at 10am, 10:30am, 11am and 11:30am
Where: Circle of Sand at the Town Square
Join a Bush Yarn session to learn more about the traditional weapons that were used for hunting by the Aboriginal tribes across the Western Desert, as well as techniques to gather bush tucker ingredients and a little bit about the family tribes that reside across Central Australia.
When: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 3pm
Where: Resort Town Square at the Lawn Stage
Known as Yidaki, the traditional Aboriginal term for the didgeridoo, this workshop not only offers some amazing music by a local didgeridoo player, but also gives you the opportunity to learn how to play one yourself. We also found out a bit about the history of the didgeridoo, which originated in Eastern Arnhem Land, and how they still use this unique instrument in important ceremonies and traditional music.
Bush Food Experience
When: Daily at 1pm
Where: Arkani Theatre, outdoor area
Learn about Australian and local bush tucker, including the different plants that can be found around the Western Desert and what they are traditionally used for. During the demonstration we were talked through the ways in which the local Aboriginal people used to gather these types of foods and plants and used them in their everyday life. You’re then treated to a great cooking demonstration about how to make some shortbread using local ingredients, including a taste test at the end!
Guided Garden Walk
When: Daily at 8:45am and 4pm
Where: Resort Town Square, flag poles
Join a guided walk around the grounds the the Town Centre with your knowledgeable guide, who will share some insight into the plants found here and around the Western Desert and what they are traditionally used for. Some of these plants are used for food, while others are used for medicine, and it’s a great chance to be able to identify which is used for which.
Capturing the Cosmos
When: Daily at 2pm
Where: Arkani Theatre
Join this astronomy tour to learn more about the cosmos and the night sky. This documentary gives you some insights into radio astronomy, dark energy and what you can see in the clear night skies above Uluru. There’s also a Q&A session with the resort’s resident astronomer, if you have any details you’d like answered.
For more information check out the Ayers Rock Resort website. Experiences, start times and locations can change throughout the year, so ask for an up to date program when you check in for your stay.
Ayers Rock Resort is the best place to stay if you’re coming to visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. From the free activities program to it’s close proximity to the national park, you’re sure to have an amazing experience during your stay here!