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Alices Springs and uluru tour

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Dec 1st, 2013, 03:11 PM
  #1
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Alices Springs and uluru tour

Hi, Im going to be in Australia mid-February. A friend and I are flying from city to city and think that we should fly in to either Alice Springs or Ayers Rock and then get a tour company to take us around for 3 days to both locations...so we can get to the main sights and not have to plan too much. Does this make sense? And what tour company would people recommend to get this. We're on a budget..but are in our mid 40's and would like some comfort (read not camping, decent hotel)

Thanks

-paul
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Dec 1st, 2013, 03:41 PM
  #2
 
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That's a very hot month for the Red Centre. I'm not sure that I would visit then.

You can fly between Alice Springs and Uluru, with only three days that might be preferable. Uluru only needs one full day. Alice Springs has a lot more to offer. If you want to go to Palm Valley between the two sites then a tour would be advisable, sorry I can't help with recommendations for that.
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Dec 1st, 2013, 09:09 PM
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We used Swain Australia about 10 years ago for Oz and NZ and they were great! Very flexible - you can mix and match from their offerings. Some days we were on our own, on others, we took one of their day trips or tours. We flew into Urulu - 2 nights, then went by bus via Kings Canyon to Alice Springs - 2 nights.
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Dec 5th, 2013, 01:13 AM
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We did a similar trip a couple of years ago with AAT Kings. We flew into Alice Springs, spent a couple of nights there then the bus took us down to Uluru (about 5 hours). We stayed at the resort there, did both the sunset and sunrise Uluru tours and also a long day trip to Kings Canyon (including a 4am start!) Not sure about the price as this was part of a longer trip but we thought it was well worth it.
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Dec 6th, 2013, 02:41 AM
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like all trips it depends on what you want and why.

Ayers Rock and the Olgas are truly like nowhere else. (I travelled most of the southern half of Australia and 35 countries.)

Alice springs on the other hand is a sad example of an Australian country town and offers little. There are some great museums and it is a gateway to a spectacular part of the country. So if you want some outback history this is the place for it. If you want Aboriginal Culture this is the place for it. It is also, sadly, the place to see aborigines at their worst, so expect that. It is like any other poor/disadvantaged area in the world with lots of people sitting around looking dejected.

It will be very hot 40C give or take. This is not a problem as you will be in Air conditioned buses/planes and accommodation.

Alice Springs is a long long way from Ayer's Rock. It is a six hour drive. Alice Springs is a long way from anywhere really that is why it is there!

The walk around the base is 9km and flat with some water tanks but take plenty of your own. You are not obliged to walk the whole way round. The walk to the summit is a "must do" in my opinion. Many Fodorites will vehemently disagree. It is YOUR choice. The top of the rock is like nowhere else I have been. It is truly spectacular for a range of reasons. I spent 5 hours wandering around on top.

Having said that. If the temperature is over 36C or thereabouts they will close it, ditto for windy. It is a steep walk but doable just take plenty of water, and take your time.

This can be another problem. Many tour groups do not give you enough time at the rock to climb it. This way they keep in the good books with the Aborigines. If you want to climb the rock make sure the company you go with allows you plenty of time. If you are reasonably fit 90 mins will get you to the summit with enough time for a rest and return. Otherwise allow about 2hrs or more if you want to explore.

If you are interested in the geology, there is a great display at the resort information centre, but I suggest reading up on it first as the cultural centre is devoid of geological info.

If you are interested in the Aboriginal culture there is an information centre near the park entrance, which no doubt the tour group will take you to.

There is one free cultural tour at 10am from memory otherwise you will need to rely on your tour guide. So ask the tour company about that if you have more than a passing interest.

We have no interest in such cultural things and cannot comment on any of tours. For the record we would not do a Native American tour in the USA or Inca Tour in South America etc. and we skipped the Temple tour at Ankor Wat. Comparative Cultural Studies is just not our thing. We try to avoid people and tours as much as possible. Hermits we is.

The Olgas are brilliant and again allow enough time to see them in detail. The longer walk will be closed in hot weather.

King's Canyon is also brilliant. But then again all Outback scenery is.

So in summary.
It will be hot and the flies will be out. Take a face net.
Why are you going? Do you want Culture or Scenery or a bit of both? Talk to the tour companies about your preferences.

Why only three days?
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Dec 6th, 2013, 10:09 AM
  #6
 
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I've been to Uluru twice and to Alice Springs once. I just want to "second" all the comments made by Peter and reiterate that February is incredibly hot in the Red Center and 3 days is nowhere near enough time for a visit to both Uluru and Alice Springs.

Also, having visited both places on our own, I can't say that it would take much planning to do it on your own as opposed to going (and paying for) an organized tour.
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Dec 6th, 2013, 01:54 PM
  #7
tt7
 
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"Alice springs on the other hand is a sad example of an Australian country town and offers little. There are some great museums and it is a gateway to a spectacular part of the country. So if you want some outback history this is the place for it. If you want Aboriginal Culture this is the place for it."

Why is the first sentence totally at odds with what follows? Would you recommend spending time in Alice? Presumably only if you are interested in the history and the culture?

"The walk to the summit is a "must do" in my opinion. Many Fodorites will vehemently disagree. It is YOUR choice."

You are correct - some (me included) would vehemently disagree. It is "your choice" just as it is also your choice whether to climb on the altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York or St Paul's Cathedral in London. Not a perfect analogy by a long way, I know, given that the Anangu's concerns with the issue are partially unexplained and aren't entirely religious. However, most people opt not to climb it, in deference to the beliefs, customs and expressed wishes of others, rather than adopting a "screw you, I can do anything I like" attitude. The number of visitors who climb it has been dropping steadily year by year for many years and is now about 20%, so arguably 80% of visitors have got the message, even if the rest haven't.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 08:51 PM
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Without going into in depth comparative theological studies. Ayer's Rock is a rock that has had cultural/religious values added to it. A Church or a Cathedral was built for a very specific purpose. It is more like climbing Mt Everest. Assuming that both climbs required the same fitness and ease of access. Would you climb Everest?

It is not a "screw you, I can do anything I like" attitude, it is I respect your customs but they are not mine and I will treat the place respectfully, in my cultural way. Using your church example, you can visit a church respectfully without believing in the god, or participating in any of the ceremonies.

Banning climbing Ayer's Rock is far more about politics than culture. The main reason most don't climb it is that it is more often closed than open or as said earlier the there is not enough time allowed. There is a whole raft of "good" reasons they will close it.

Anyway, back to Alice Springs.

>>Why is the first sentence totally at odds with what follows? Would you recommend spending time in Alice? Presumably only if you are interested in the history and the culture?<<

Exactly. Alice Springs is not a destination in itself. It is a very long way from anywhere and not a particularly pretty or welcoming town. So unless you have a desire see the artefacts at couple of museums, the town itself offers little other than a supplies and stepping off point for the surrounding Outback scenery - which is fantastic.

It is one of the few towns that I would not feel safe walking in after dark when the shops are all shut. I wouldn't walk the suburbs at any time.

It is a bit like a coastal town, in that you are not visiting for the town itself although it does offer some attractions. You are visiting to interact with the environment.

You don't go to Alice Springs for the architecture, fantastic shopping, chic cafes and grand museums etc. You go for the remote Outback.

You could do the museums in a day and a half tops.
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Dec 7th, 2013, 10:23 PM
  #9
 
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You don't say where you are coming from but I have to reiterate what others have said re the weather. It will be extremely hot and the flies are a trial but , as long as you are prepared . Also agree that Alice Springs itself is not that interesting but there are interesting places to visit out of there. If you do get as far as Uluru , I recommend seeing Kata Juta ( also known as the Olgas ). I actually found them more spectacular than the Rock itself. Kings Canyon is worth seeing too although you need more time for that.
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Dec 8th, 2013, 04:22 PM
  #10
 
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I am sorry to butt in but wanted some imput as long as everyone is talking about Ayers Rock?
I went to Australia in September for three weeks-Sydney,Port Douglas/Cairns and Melbourne/The Great Ocean Road with daytrips from all three cities. I am planning on meeting my daughter in Hobart Tasmania in March after she returns from working in Antarctica.
Should we try and squeeze in Ayers Rock for three days or just concentrate on Tasmania? On one hand I don't know if I want to spend the extra money on airfare for trying to get to Ayers Rock or is it something that I will regret not seeing in the long run? Tasmania seems to have so many interesting places and things to do-any imput is greatly appreciated!
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Dec 8th, 2013, 07:09 PM
  #11
 
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Depends on your available time and your and your daughter's interest in seeing Uluru and the Red Centre.
As you say, it's quite an expensive side trip.

Tasmania is glorious and I could spend a month noodling around & tripping off to Bruny Island, eating, drinking & doing one or two of the great walks to atone for those excesses.

My instinct is that if you need to ask whether you should go to Uluru / Alice Springs, it's probably not that important to you. OTOH, to quote WA Tourism, " If you never, never go - you'll never, never know".

I love it, but I've had the time to spend, and on one occasion a niece to stay with while I spent 3 weeks in the area.
I do recognise it's not everyone's thing though. To me, Uluru & Kata Tjuta are wondrous, mystical & fascinating. Alice Springs, gritty, raw, confronting for many, interesting enough to spend a week. For others, Alice Springs is a nothing much town too far away from a big rock in the middle of nowhere.

Probably not much use to you, but without knowing your available time as a starting point, I don't really think anyone can give you much meaningful advice.
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Dec 10th, 2013, 02:01 AM
  #12
 
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It depends on you interests. Central Austral is remote and all the items are far away from each other. Time is needed unless you just want to fly in and see a big rock in the middle of nowhere and go again. It truly is spectacular but a long way for a maybe.

Tasmania on the other hand has lots of things to see and do and they are all close together. We have spent a total of 11 weeks there and still have not seen all we want to. Look at my trip reports, for hints.
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Dec 13th, 2013, 08:58 PM
  #13
 
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We only have two weeks for our trip so perhaps we should just concentrate on Tasmania? I figure with my age that this might be my last trip "down under" along with the costs so was trying to get Ulruru/Alice Springs in on this trip too. (I always wanted to see it after watching "A Town like Alice" back in the 80's on PBS?)
I picture Tasmania as wonderful as New Zealand in terms of natural beauty so will just focus on it. Thanks everyone!
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