Uluru, or Ayers Rock (as it is sometimes known) has to be one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks along with the Sydney Opera House & the Great Barrier Reef. The 'rock' lies in the very heart of Australia, with the closest major town being Alice Springs with a population of 29,853 projected by June 2018.
Uluru, with the town of Yulara in the foreground
Uluru is located within the Northern Territory which has the smallest population in Australia. The state’s capital is Darwin with an estimated population of over 120,000 people. The Northern Territory boasts a total area of 1,349,129 km² which amazingly accounts for approximately 17.5 percent of Australia’s total land mass. The ‘Top End’ of the Northern Territory has a coastline that extends more than 13,500 kilometres or 8,388 miles.
Alice Springs & Uluru
To the Aborigines, Alice Springs is known as ‘Mparntwe’ which has been home to the indigenous population for more than 30,000 years. Today Alice Springs is a vibrant tourist hub due to its proximity to many of the Outback’s most popular tourist destinations including Uluru, which is particularly favoured by backpackers & adventure tourists.
Uluru height comparison
Uluru opened to the public as a tourist site in 1936 & since that time until more recently, it has been promoted as a site to climb & conquer which upsets the local Pitjantjatjara peoples. Uluru has always been considered to be a truly sacred place which should not be climbed. Fast fact: Over 35 people have died climbing Uluru. A major change occurred on 26 October 1985 when the land was returned to the local Aborigines by the government on condition it was to be leased back to the National Parks & Wildlife Agency under a co-management arrangement.
A keen climber tackling Ayers Rock
The town of Alice Springs is located around six hours away from Uluru where many tourists tend to base themselves while they explore other areas of the territory, including Kings Canyon & The Olga's to name but two. To get to any of the beautiful & natural tourist attractions, visitors should be prepared to travel vast distances by road through barren, yet spectacular landscapes.
Getting to Alice Springs & Uluru
Alice Springs and Uluru each have their own airports. Alice Springs airport provides flights to & from the following Australian cities:
- Adelaide – Qantas, Virgin
- Ayers Rock – QantasLink
- Brisbane – Alliance, Qantas
- Cairns – QantasLink
- Darwin – Airnorth, QantasLink, Virgin
- The Granites – Alliance
- Katherine – Airnorth
- Melbourne – Qantas, Virgin
- Perth – Qantas
- Sydney – Qantas
- Tennant Creek – Airnorth
Once you've landed it’s easy to get into the town of Alice Springs - as the shuttle bus meets every flight, both inbound & outbound. The service is operated by Alice Wanderer with a one way ticket costing AUD$16.50 per person.
Kata Tjuta also known as The Olga's
Ayers Rock Airport provides flights to & from the following Australian cities:
- Alice Springs – QantasLink
- Cairns – QantasLink
- Melbourne – Jetstar
- Sydney – Jetstar, Virgin Australia
On arrival at Ayers Rock Airport a free shuttle bus is provided to ferry passengers to resorts & hotels in the small town of Yulara.
There are other ways to travel to the outback including hiring a car or travelling by coach - if you have plenty of time on your hands, then it’s a great way to see the country. The distances covered are vast & at times dangerous, so remember to stock up on supplies including fuel, water & food.
The Best Time To Visit The Outback
The best time of the year to discover the Outback is during the month of May or between March – May, & between August & September when the climate is mild & the skies are clear, with many opportunities to capture picture perfect moments. The down side is there are many other tourists about, however the land is vast & you can find those special moments where you can be alone with nature at its very best.
If you decide to travel during the winter months, be prepared for the chill as temperatures plummet overnight so warm clothing is a must. During the wet season, particularly during the months of January & February, its near impossible to visit the area due to the road being closed during the floods caused by torrential rainfall of up to 2,400 millimetres during the period.
For those whose bucket list includes climbing Uluru, time is running out. In a press announcement by the Department of Environment & Energy in November 2017 details were provided confirming the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Management Plan 2010-2020 & the wishes of traditional owners that the climb to the top of Uluru will close on 26 October 2019.
How To Protect Yourself From Heat Stress & Other Threats When Touring Uluru
Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of heat stress, heat stroke and hyponatraemia before departing on any walks. Parks Australia have produced a brochure for visitors to ensure they prepare themselves for the extreme weather conditions which are often encountered in 'the red centre'. By clicking on the credits link, will take you directly to the downloadable PDF file.
Source/Credit: National Parks Australia
Source/Credit: National Parks Australia
Vanished From The Outback
The outback can be a mysterious place indeed with an alarming number of people disappearing in recent years under mysterious circumstances including more recently Patrick “Paddy” Moriarty & Rebecca Hayward, who were locals & familiar with the area.
Anyone who's seen the movie, a frightening thriller titled 'Wolf Creek' may be familiar with the true life case of missing British tourist Peter Falconio who along with his girlfriend Joanne Lees were travelling through the Outback when terror struck. The British couple were travelling along the Stuart Highway in their Volkswagen Kombi van on July 14, 2001 when they were flagged down by Bradley Murdoch. Mr Falconio was shot while Ms Lees was tied up.
The police believed he wanted to kidnap & rape Ms Lees who escaped after being punched & restrained by the convicted killer. When the opportunity presented, Ms. Lees fled from the back of Murdoch's vehicle & hid for several hours before she courageously flagged down a passing truck driver. Sadly, Peter Falconio's body has never been found.
The murder took place near Barrow Creek approximately 321 kilometres, 200 miles north of Alice Springs. During its pre-release, the film Wolf Creek, was marketed as being 'based on true events.' As a consequence, the Northern Territory court placed an injunction on the release of the movie within the Northern Territory at the time as they believed it may influence the outcome of trial proceedings.
Road sign on the Lasseter Highway