From fine bush tucker dining to cheap barbecue cook-ups, you’ll be ready to devour the desertscape once you’ve read about these top Uluru restaurants and dining experiences.
Sand goanna. Wild watermelons. Billy goat plums. Emu prosciutto. Tjanmata and wakati, honey ants and maku. Tarulka and wakalpuka seeds; there is a long list of flavours and foods you will likely taste for the very first time in the Red Centre. Those with an adventurous palate will reap the rewards.
But where to start? From eating delicate indigenous-flavoured nibbles under the stars to supporting Indigenous employment at local cafes, here are our top dining experiences near Uluru.
Fine dining near Uluru
Paroo kangaroo tartare? Quandong coulis and native warrigal greens? Kakadu plum compote? If your fork fingers are twitching right now, it’s time to book the Tali Wiru experience. Available at the Ayers Rock Resort, Tali Wiru means ‘beautiful dune’ in local Aṉangu, and is one of the highlights at Uluru when it comes to experiencing bush-tucker fine dining.
Tali Wiru is one of the highlights at Uluru when it comes to experiencing bush-tucker fine dining. (Image: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia)
You and a small group will travel out to the dunes to dine on canapes, followed by three courses paired with wines from the desert kitchen run by a talented team of Indigenous staff, and flavoured by foraged foods. And it doesn’t finish there — your time out among the dunes also includes a didgeridoo performance and Indigenous storytelling.
Prices start from $385 per person.
Tali Wiru means ‘beautiful dune’ in local Anangu. (Image: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia)
Sounds of Silence
Perhaps one of the most famous dining experiences in Uluru is the Sounds of Silence. The night begins with you being picked up at your hotel, and taken out to the outback between Kata Tjuta and Uluru, for canapes, wines and a BBQ buffet characterised by indigenous flavours, all as the sun sets. The night also includes a stargazing talk, where the speaker will explain to you the meaning and stories behind the constellations above.
Watch the sun set over Uluru at Sounds of Silence. (Image: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia)
It is highly recommended to combine this with a night at Bruce Munro’s Field of Light, the installation that saw 50,000, gently glowing lights installed in the Central Australian desert. A Night at Field of Light includes entry to the exhibition, a three-course bush tucker menu, a stargazing talk and a didgeridoo performance.
Bruce Munro’s Field of Light is one of Uluru’s biggest attractions. (Image: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia)
A Night at Field of Light starts from $280 for adults, while Sounds of Silence is from $234.
A Night at Field of Light is a must-see. (Image: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia)
Arnguli Grill & Restaurant
For an intimate dinner, the Arnguli Grill & Restaurant at the Desert Gardens Hotel is the place to head in the Ayers Rock resort. Arnguli (the Pitjantjatjara word for bush plum) dishes up food underscored with indigenous flavours of the surrounding landscape. Opt for a native tasting plate if you’re not sure where to start, or perhaps a half dozen oysters with bush tomato Kilpatrick dressing.
Arnguli dishes up food underscored with indigenous flavours of the surrounding landscape. (Image: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia)
Mangata Bistro & Bar
Next door, you will find the Mangata Bistro & Bar. Named for the desert quandong, Mangata’s speciality is buffet breakfast, as well as light lunches and dinners. Tuck into native peppered kangaroo kebabs, a hearty bowl of chargrilled zucchini pasta, or a green paw-paw mango salad after a midday dip in the nearby pool.
Tuck into native peppered kangaroo kebabs or a green paw-paw mango salad at Mangata. (Image: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia)
Located at the five-star Sails in the Desert, Ilkari Restaurant is the place to be if you’ve opted for a buffet breakfast while staying here. Ilkari (the Pitjantjatjara word for sky) serves up a range of breakfasts, from continental pastries and fruit and Western-style cooked eggs and bacon to Asian soups and an omelette station. You can also opt to return for dinner, where there is another buffet menu, which uses Indigenous bush tucker flavours. And — keep big kids calm — there is a chocolate fountain too.
Ilkari Restaurant is the place to be if you’ve opted for a buffet breakfast while staying here. (Image: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia)
Walpa Lobby Bar
Named after the Pitjantjatjara word for wind, Walpa Lobby Bar offers casual lunch and dinner, as well as tapas-style eats come evening. These oh-so-scrummy nibbles include baked camembert with quandong jam, emu koftas with river mint yogurt, and avocado, green pea and desert lime guacamole on tortillas. Sit up at the bar to consume, order a cocktail, and indulge in a spot of people-watching.
Walpa Lobby Bar offers casual lunch and dinner, as well as tapas-style eats come evening. (Image: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia)
If you’d rather go a la carte come breakfast time, head to the Town Square to Geckos Cafe. Serving up a range of modern Australian breakfast staples from bircher muesli and poached eggs on toast, to toasted banana bread and croissants (vegan available), there is also pizza and pasta here for lunch and dinner. After something more hearty? Burgers, parmis and fish and chips are also dished up at Geckos.
Cheap eats near Uluru
Outback Pioneer BBQ and Bar
Grab your tongs, crack open that beetroot can and fire up the barbie — it’s time to get extra Aussie at the Outback Pioneer BBQ and Bar. Located out at the Outback Pioneer Hotel, this DIY barbecue experience is available to try out every evening, and from lunch on Sundays. Simply pick out your preferred cut (emu sausages, kangaroo skewers and more are available among more familiar offerings of steak and barra), and cook away. Sides are available as well.
Rather have someone else do the cooking? The nearby Outback Pioneer Kitchen has hearty pub fare, to be consumed at communal tables where you can meet fellow travellers.
The DIY barbecue experience is available to try out every evening. (Image: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia)
Kulata Academy Cafe
One of the most cost-effective places to go in Yulara also has one of the best reasons to go there. As well as serving up sandwiches, pies, salads, smoothies and desserts from around the $9 mark for breakfast and lunch, Kulata’s staff are trainees of the resort’s National Indigenous Training Academy. This means you are supporting them to get their skills polished up for a career in hospitality. We’ll sip a smoothie to that.
Bush Tucker Talk
Did you know a stay at the resort includes a whole heap of free experiences? And for the culinary-minded among you, we’d recommend putting the Bush Tucker Talk at the top of your list. This 45-minute talk gives you an introduction to Indigenous bush tucker food, and even includes a cooking demonstration. Runs daily at 1 pm.
The 45-minute talk gives you an introduction to Indigenous bush tucker food, and even includes a cooking demonstration. (Image: Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia)