March 10, 2023
10 mins Read
The spectacular is a bucket-list item for most Australians, as well as travellers from further afield. And it’s no wonder. This glowing monolith isn’t just a force to be reckoned with in the wider Australian cultural imagination; it also forms the centre of many stories for the Anangu people who consider Uluru, as well as many of the surrounding watering holes, caves and gorges, deeply sacred. With so many stories to be told and to listen to at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, our list of top tours will make it easier to get every drop out of your visit to the Red Centre
Watch the sunrise from the air over one of the world’s most iconic views, that of Uluru. Unless you have a helicopter ride included as part of your accommodation (hello those lucky enough to stay at super-luxe glampsite, Longitude 131) book with Fly Uluru, who run Ayers Rock Helicopters and Ayers Rock Scenic Flights.
Fly Uluru has been flying in the outback since 1989 and is still going strong. Head out for a 40- or 30-minute spin on a plane or helicopter at sunrise or sunset on the Uluru & Kata Tjuta Scenic Flight, or extend to two hours to include sights like Lake Amadeus and King’s Canyon. Their 15-minute Uluru Rock Blast 15-minute tour starts from $120.
Alternatively, you can opt for this golden hour tour where your feet are a lot closer to the ground — but still not quite touching. Uluru Camel Tours is a family-friendly group, that runs mid-morning and sunrise and sunset camel rides through the sands of the Red Centre.
Watch the colours change, as you listen to your guide tell you about the surrounding flora and fauna, all from behind the hump of your noble desert steed. Prices from $135 include freshly baked beer damper with jams, tea and coffee.
While nothing can compete with watching the dawn break over Uluru and Kata Tjuta, the tens of thousands of light that comprise artist Bruce Munro’s Field of Light installation sure gives it a run for its money. Watch the shifting hues of this massive artwork wax and wane as the frosted spheres dim as the sun comes up. Costs run from $75 per person.
Hey there, Easy Rider. Fancy seeing the sandstone monolith on the back of a Harley? Stupid question. Book onto Uluru Motorcycles’ Sunrise Harley tour to be chauffeured around on the back of your bike by a rider, who will take you to the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku viewing area before doing a lap of Uluru. From $229 for 90 minutes.
Did you know you can get a free guided walk of the base? Take the Mala Walk at the base of Uluru, which is named for the Mala people (the local Anangu’s peoples ancestors), with a local ranger. Learn about the meaning of the rock art along the ancient walls, and hear the Tjukurpa (creation stories) of the formations here. The walk is two kilometres and wheelchair accessible. It ends at Kantju Gorge, which is a wonderful place to finish and watch the sunset.
Go the whole hog with this guided 10.5-kilometre walk around Uluru’s base, which starts when you are picked up an hour before sunrise. Next is a light breakfast, before starting on the Kuniya Walk and watching the desert wake up around you.
As you walk, you will hear stories of Tjukurpa, stop by the Kantju Gorge and see the rock art of the Mutitjulu Waterhole, and hear about the battle between Kuniya, the woman python woman, and Liru, the poisonous brown snake man, that occurred here, with their story told in the landscape. The cost starts from $159 and includes return travel.
Don’t try to be a snob, segways are the bomb. Easy to use and fun; you get to travel as a tight group from the fast walkers to the slow pokes.
Try out a small group tour with Uluru Segways and journey 12 kilometres around the base of Uluru on a guided tour. Options include tours that include and exclude returns, as well as sunset tours that come with nibbles and sparkling wine. Priced from $149.
The Maruku Arts group is an Indigenous-owned and operated organisation, whose name literally means “belonging to black”. Staggeringly, almost 900 Anangu artists make up the collective.
Support their work and learn from their knowledge on the Cave Art Tour, which sees travellers take the Kuniya Walk to hear the Tjukurpa stories.
The stories are first told by your Anangu guide in Pitjantjatjara, then in English. Prices are from $89. Pair with a dot-painting workshop taught by a local Anangu artist, assisted by an interpreter from $72.
Venture out to see Uluru’s sister site of Kata Tjuta with this AAT Kings tour. Begin the day before the crack of dawn as you watch the sunrise at Talinguru Nyakunytjaku, the viewing area. Next, drive to Kata Tjuta, a sacred space for Anangu men, as your guide tells you the history of the surrounding parklands.
On your arrival at the steep-sided domes, the group will explore Walpa Gorge and check out the oasis there. While you are allowed to visit the sacred space of Kata Tjuta, remain respectful and be careful what you photograph; you don’t want to reveal hidden secrets of the area.
An intimate night of fabulous dining that will take your sense of taste on a veritable tour.
The Tali Wiru dining experience sees you travel out to a nearby dune (the name ‘Tali Wiru’ means beautiful dune), for a night of bush tucker canapes, a three-course meal, and matched wines. And when we say bush tucker, we’re not talking about your average crocodile steak — or making any part of this experience snappy.
Instead delight over course after course of quandong coulis and native warrigal greens, toothfish with bush honey marinated heirloom carrots, gulguk (green ant) gin and tonics, paroo kangaroo croquettes and more.
Your time out among the dunes also includes a didgeridoo performance and Indigenous storytelling. The price starts from $385 per person.
Pair one of the most famous Uluru dining experiences with one of the most celebrated artworks, Bruce Munro’s Field of Light.
Get picked up at your hotel, where you’ll be taken out to the outback between Kata Tjuta and Uluru, for canapés, wines and a barbecue buffet characterised by indigenous flavours. Includes installation entry, a three-course bush tucker menu, a stargazing talk and a didgeridoo performance.
Still hungry? The best options for dining at Uluru can be found here.
You don’t need a guide to do the Uluru base walk (although there is a free one available, see above). Instead, have some spiritually refreshing alone time as you follow the rock around its base along the 10-kilometre track. It is recommended to start at the Mala carpark, and to do so in the early hours in hotter weather. There is water and toilets available on the hike, and a map can be found at Parks Australia.
After attending the free presentation on the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Aṉangu culture at the Cultural Centre, and checking out some of the art and activities there, it’s time to pick up the bikes and head on out. Outback Cycles has bicycle rentals, which you can hire between sunrise and late afternoon.
If you’re staying near Uluru, chances are it’ll be at Ayers Rock Resort, which offer a whole range of free activities you can check out. See a Bush Tucker Experience with a free cooking demonstration, check out the local flora and bush foods with a guide in the gardens of the Desert Gardens Hotel, sign up for the daily tour of the Gallery of Central Australia (GoCA) (read more about GoCA in our three-day itinerary) and take a visit to pat the camels at the Uluru Camel Tour petting farm.
The whole family will love gazing up at the stars that lie above Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park at night, listening quietly as the resident guide explains the astronomy of the planets and heavenly bodies above.
Uluru Astro Tours has a special permit to run stargazing tours in the park, so it is well worth booking this small-group experience. Children are from $60 and adults are from $99 for this 2.5-hour tour.
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