Campervan in Uluru/Ayers Rock - Outback Guide
Easily one of the world's most recognisable natural icons, Ayers Rock is famous across the world and is the undisputable highlight of the Australian outback.
This large sandstone formation stands 348 metres high and measures 9.4 kilometres in circumference, making it one of the largest exposed sandstone rocks in the Southern Hemisphere.
Ayers Rock, also known as Uluru, is notable for appearing to change colour as the different light strikes it at different times of the day and year, with sunset one of the most remarkable sights the human eye could possibly witness.
Its location in Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park places it almost directly in the centre of Australia, making it one of the country's remote, yet most visited, attractions and the ideal destination for an outback campervan adventure.
Ayers Rock can be found 450 kilometres south-west of the nearest large town, Alice Springs. For tourists flying into Darwin, the drive to Uluru is a longer one at 1,938 kilometres, which under no circumstances should be completed without at least one overnight stop.
Airports and Campervan Depots
There are two main airports tourists use to fly into the Northern Territory. Alice Springs Airport and Darwin International Airport are both located near campervan depots and are ideal places to begin your campervan holiday in Uluru/Ayers Rock.
Campervan travellers can choose to either pick up their vehicle from Alice Springs or Darwin. A one-way rental is a popular option for those wishing to simply travel between the two and not backtrack on where they have already driven.
Park Use Fees
There is an entrance fee that applies to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The fee is $25 per adult, with children under 16, free. This fare allows multiple entries into the park for 3 consecutive days.
What to See and Do
The Cultural Centre is a great starting point for people visiting Uluru, as it offers ideas and information on all the activities you can do within the park. Browse the art centre and pick up some souvenirs to remember your time in Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park.
Walking is another popular activity to do here as well, and there are several walks that can be taken around Uluru. These tracks reveal the natural beauty and rich culture of Ayers Rock, with the base walk the most popular among them. Escape the crowds and take a meandering journey through acacia woodlands and grassed claypans, while discovering the diverse plants, animals and geological features of the park.
Rock art is also an immensely popular attraction in the park and can be found on the walls and in the caves of Ayers Rock. These paintings are of considerable historical significance to the Aboriginal people and tell the stories of the dreamtime.
Climate and Weather
Local Aboriginal people recognise 5 seasons within Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park:
- Wanitjunkupai occurs during April and May and brings cooler weather to the park.
- Wari takes hold in June and July and is relatively cold with morning frosts a common occurrence.
- Piriyakutu occurs in August to October and is when all of the animals start to breed and the plants flower (much like the traditional season of spring).
- Mai Wiyaringkupai is the hot season and falls over November and December.
- Finally, Itjanu comes about from January through to March and brings with it sporadic storms that seem to appear without any notice at all.
Best Time to Visit
The best times to visit are in Autumn and Spring when the weather is slightly cooler and the flora and fauna are out in full view.
The best time to experience Uluru itself is either at sunrise or sunset as the colours of the rock will simply take your breath away. If you are attempting to walk the base of the rock you should leave first thing in the morning because once it hits around 10-11am the temperatures are simply too hot to walk in.
What to wear?
As for all locations in the Australian outback, the best type of clothing to wear is loose-fitting and covered. The sun in the outback is incredibly harsh, making long-sleeved shirts and plenty of sunscreen a must.
It is also important to wear sturdy, covered shoes, as the walks can be quite challenging and you will need support for your feet and ankles.
Temperatures tend to drop at night, so be sure to bring along some warm clothes to avoid the chill.
This part of the outback is a haven for a unique collection of native birds, reptiles, and mammals, all of which have adapted to the harsh environmental conditions of central Australia.
The National Park itself is home to 21 species of native mammals, 178 species of bird, 73 reptile species and literally thousands of invertebrate species.
Some of the most common birds you will spot here include galahs, painted firetails and wedge-tailed eagles. These are accompanied by reptiles like the Thorny Devil, nocturnal desert skink and the mulga snake.
The outback's most popular mammals include the spinifex hopping mouse, the rufous hare wallaby, mulgara, the brush-tailed possum, Red-Kangaroo and the dingo.
Some wildlife in the outback can be dangerous so visitors should never attempt to interact or feed wild animals here.
Driving Restrictions and Tips
The roads within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park are all sealed and suitable for campervans to travel on them. As with driving anywhere in the outback, it is important to drive carefully at night and always keep an eye out for wildlife.
As the outback is so dry, there is a lot of dust and this tends to cloud people's vision while driving. Therefore, if you are travelling in a group of behind someone, it is essential that you keep a safe distance to avoid this.
Mount Conner is located within the Kata Tjuta National Park and is definitely worth the visit. Often mistaken for its bigger sister, Ayers Rock, Mount Conner is actually 3 times larger than Uluru and tours of it can be arranged at the nearby Curtin Springs Station.
The Olgas are the park's other mentionable attraction. They are comprised of 36 domes that are all composed of conglomerate, a sedimentary rock consisting of cobbles and boulders of varying rock types including granite and basalt, cemented by a matrix of sandstone. The tallest of these is Mt Olga, which stands at an impressive 546 metres high.
What to bring?
It is absolutely necessary to bring plenty of water to Ayers Rock, regardless of the length of your stay. Ensuring you always have fuel in your petrol tank is also important as distances between roadhouses can be vast.
Appropriate clothing, sun protection, insect repellant and shoes are also vital, because of the changing weather conditions. This is the outback, so remember it gets extremely hot!
It is also a good idea to bring a suitable amount of food. The shops near Ayers Rock are quite expensive, so it works out a lot cheaper to bring your own in.
Another must-have for your campervan adventure at Ayers Rock is your camera. The landscapes here are unlike anywhere else in the world so you will want to remember your memories of this place.
Places to Stay
Ayers Rock Campground is without a doubt the best place to stay while visiting the area. Camp in lush green grounds that are so hard come by in the Australian outback and enjoy the facilities of the Voyagers Ayers Rock Resort Complex. This resort is located just outside of Yulara.
The only shop you will find within Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park is the Cultural Centre, which sells souvenirs and authentic art. Food and drinks can also be purchased here.
Yulara is the nearest town and offers several shops, including an IGA. However keep in mind that it is very expensive as prices are higher in the outback.
Ayers Rock Resort boasts its own shopping centre, offering all visitors could need plus more. It offers a great selection of souvenirs and gifts from the area at very reasonable prices.
Mt Ebenezer Roadhouse is one of the Northern Territory's best roadhouses and is still owned and operated by Aboriginal people. The roadhouse boasts an impressive art gallery, with friendly service and a laid-back atmosphere.
Petrol in the outback also tends to be more expensive in the outback. For the latest information on Australian fuel prices visit Motormouth.
For a more comprehensive list of roadhouses in the Northern Territory and beyond, visit our 101 Outback Roadhouses in Australia.