Uluru is a large sandstone rock formation in the Northern Territory of central Australia. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it lies over 280 miles away from the nearest large town, Alice Springs, and is a whopping 30hr road trip from Sydney. This isolation is both a blessing and a curse.
Uluru is one of Australia’s most recognisable natural landmarks. The sandstone formation rises to nearly 3,000ft above sea level, with much of its bulk lying underground, and has a total circumference of 5 miles. Both Uluru and the nearby Kata Tjuta formation have great cultural significance for the Anangu people, the traditional inhabitants of the area. The chance to experience this Australian icon is often too good to pass up on, and the $25AUD admission fee to the park is very good value, considering it is valid for 3 whole days. But can you realistically spend 3 days in this park and not get bored?
I did once rate Uluru as one of the most overrated tourist attractions in the world, but I didn’t know if I was being too harsh. I guess the weather may have a bearing on your morale during your visit. April to October are the best months to visit Uluru. The park has a hot desert climate but receives a surprising about of rainfall (11 inches annually) considering its terrain. Luckily it didn’t rain at all during my visit, but the temperatures were extremely unbearable. The average high temperature in summer is 100 degrees Fahrenheit and there is very little shade (apart from by the rock itself). Some of the fauna in the region love the heat, and in particular watch out for snakes and scorpions! Of course, there are also plenty of ‘roos, which you may encounter on the drive to the park (be careful not to hit one!).
Uluru is notable for appearing to change colour at different times of the day and year, most notably when it glows red during sunrise and sunset. Also I noticed that from afar, the rock looks very smooth, whereas upon closer inspection, the surface of the rock is extremely jagged and rough. Despite this, though, it is not the only main sight in the vicinity. Kata Tjuta, also known as “The Olgas”, lies 16 miles west of Uluru. Special viewing areas with road access and parking have been constructed to give tourists the best views of both sites at dawn and dusk. This is a great choice if you get the chance to plan ahead before you leave Darwin/Sydney or whichever large city you are coming from.
I didn’t climb Uluru, but then again I never intended to either. I just wanted to come and see what all the fuss was about. If I’m honest, I didn’t enjoy my experience much at Uluru, but this may have been in part down to heatstroke. I stayed one night in the area before heading back to Sydney (and then up to Queensland). Another one of the major reasons I didn’t like this area was its total isolation from civilisation (even a 3hr flight from Sydney seems a long way when you’re flying over desert). Apart from looking at a rock and some caves, there wasn’t much else to do in the park, although the native people were extremely friendly and knowledgeable and they certainly enhanced my visit.
Some people may prefer Uluru to a similar experience in Sri Lanka – Sigiriya: Lion’s Rock – which I absolutely loved! So it’s all about personal opinions! It would be good to see a comparison one day from somebody who has visited Uluru, Sigiriya, and the Grand Canyon in the US!