trip to Uluru (ayers rock) - suggestions

Old May 18th, 2009, 05:56 PM
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trip to Uluru (ayers rock) - suggestions

We will be in Sydney Oct 24-Nov 3. We would like to take a trip to Ayers rock. We can spend several days (we will be back in Syndey later in the trip). What are suggestions on visiting the red center? How many days? Rent a car? how long to spend in Yulara? Should we move to Alice Springs to see Kings Canyon? Has anyone been to the Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve? or the Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve? Or Devil's Marbles? Can someone suggest an itinerary Thanks in advance,
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Old May 19th, 2009, 01:49 AM
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You can do a quickie to the Olgas -

Basically Alice is the place for people and nightlife - Uluru is very controlled - as it should be and good for a day or two.
You can hire a 4wd and take the dirt road from Alice to Uluru - very nice - stop and look at the meteor crater on the way.
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Old May 19th, 2009, 05:49 AM
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Be prepared for flies, lots of them and heat. Extremely expensive excursion for us, but the scenery is exquisite
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Old May 19th, 2009, 07:42 PM
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Hi TB,

I would definitely recommend Uluru - perhaps 3 nights to take it all in, including Kata Tjuta - a sunrise, sunset, a visit to the Cultural Centre there etc.

I personally, did not think much of Devil's Marbles - I've been there twice now and both times the flies were horrendous and there was a bit of a disagreeable smell there - but that is just my opinion.

Definitely would recommend King's Canyon and also would recommend Palm Valley (4WD access only). Ormiston Gorge is my husband's favourite - just out of Alice Springs but they are all beautiful spots. But my faves are King's Canyon and I loved Palm Valley.

I think it's hard to go wrong out there as on the whole it is just a beautiful place.
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Old May 19th, 2009, 11:01 PM
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My family and I visited Central Australia last year and were absolutely blown out by the scenery. It is so worth the trip, not just for the iconic sites like Uluru but just the experience of being in the heart of Australia, you never realize how vast and varied this country is until you get to see the red desert and open plains of Central Australia. It makes for a brilliant contrast to the populated and developed places along the coast. Be prepared to travel great distances to see places, but as I said, it is really worth it. We flew directly to Yulara and picked up a car to drive around. Stayed at Emu Apartments for a couple of nights (a good idea if you want to save money by preparing your own meals - be warned, it can be verrry expensive out there). There should be enough things to do over 2 days in Yulara: a couple of drives to Uluru at various times of the day (yes, both sunset and sunrise are spectacular) plus a full day exploring the Olgas (much more interesting than Uluru in terms of landscape - each turn along the Valley of the Winds walk opens yet another breathtaking view). Then we drove to Kings Canyon (a 3-4 hour drive depending on how often you stopped along the way - very irresistible to explore the dunes and do a spot of birdwatching). Stayed at Kings Canyon for 2 nights again - a completely different landscape and definitely much much more breathtaking than Uluru if you like awesome vistas of canyons, long drops and overhangs - this was easily my favourite place. Did the 6-km canyon rim walk (spent all day doing this, why hurry, the views were spectacular!) Then a long drive to Alice Springs for the final stay of 2 days - lots of things to do out there and it makes you realize the strength of human spirit. How on earth many many years ago a settlement was set up here to connect the rest of Australia to the world through the overland telegraph line - a visit to the Old Telegraph Station is a very sobering and informative experience. Then of course, the Desert Park - oh, you could spend a whole day there (we did!). Alice Springs is a very interesting place, the co-existence of indigenous people and Westerners is never more apparent anywhere in Australia than here. We didn't have time to visit the Arts Centre and only managed to get to Stanley's Chasm - the heat does slow you down a bit - we would have loved to spend more time out there and see more of the McDonnell Ranges. But after Kings Canyon and the Olgas, they seemed like a poor second. Hope this helps.
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Old May 20th, 2009, 08:28 AM
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Thanks for that, bellytoo - you've echoed my sentiments about the area exactly. I think Alice Springs is much under rated and would happily spend a week as you did. The Art & Cultural Centre is well worth a visit, and includes a very interesting aviation museum. Just off Todd Mall, the original Hospital is a wonderful example of engineering & innovation with its underground air conditioning system. I was there for a fortnight a couple of years ago and enjoyed it very much.

The drive between Alice Springs, Uluru and the Olgas is well worth 2 - 3 days, I think. I did a helicopter trip from Alice Springs around the ranges for a couple of hours and the aerial perspective is astounding.

If you're someone contemplating a trip to Central Australia and wondering whether it's "worth it", I couldn't recommend it highly enough if you're interested in seeing a unique part of Australia - and if you have the opportunity to sleep outside under the stars one night - take it.
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Old May 20th, 2009, 05:01 PM
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I agree with Bokhara you can easily spend a week in Alice Springs, whereas I think two nights is ample for Uluru. From Alice Springs you can explore Hermansberg and the East and Western MacDonells.

In Alice Springs itself you will also confront indigenous culture in all its diversity in a way you don't at Yulara. For things to see, alongside the Desert Park and the Cultural Centre, I'd add the Olive Pink Botanical Garden (her story itself is amazing) and the Aboriginal art co-operative Papunya Tula.
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Old May 20th, 2009, 10:49 PM
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Food-wise, the fusion of various cultures in Alice Springs was also quite fascinating. Nowhere in the world would one see a town serving Indian and Irish food in one place and also a Swedish/Indian restaurant in another. And then of course, there's Bojangles Saloon & Bar - an experience in itself. The Outback Platter which included emu kebabs and crocodile rissoles is definitely worth trying, at least once! For something different, where else in the world can you ride a camel to dinner (and most likely have camel sausage on the side!)?

We saved our money and did not eat out at all while we were at Yulara (Uluru) as the prices were pretty steep and menus seemed unremarkable. After a day of walking around the Olgas, a pack of 2-minute noodles stir-fried with bacon and vege was more than enough anyway. The IGA supermarket at Yulara was pretty well-stocked so we managed to prepare our own meals at a fraction of the price. I agree with Susan above, 2 days at Yulara then head towards Alice via Kings Canyon on a one-way trip, you can easily fly out of Alice back to Sydney. Just go!
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Old May 21st, 2009, 08:10 PM
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Just returned from 3 nights (end of April beginning of May)in Yulara. Flew in from Sydney. Thought the weather was perfect for hiking/exploring, in the low 70s, minimal flies according to what we heard was there in the summer, but did buy a fly net at the insistence of a guide, and it was worth every penny. (It was Fall but hopefully it would be comparable in Oct/Nov) Stayed at the Voyages Outback Pioneer Hotel in a standard double room which was the least expensive option other than camping or a bunk room. Expensive, but MUCH cheaper than other room options( there are about 4-5 different facilities all run by Voyages---if you stay at more than one Voyages run resort in
Australia--we did at Heron Island---ask for the 10% discount on the second place). Wouldn't recommend staying in any of the other places that are fancier since these rooms where clean and roomy and you're not there to spend time in the rooms. Fun atmosphere, pool, pool tables, do-it-yourself BBQ available--we shopped for food in the market for some meals and ate others out. We rented a car, which is much more expensive than in the rest of OZ but still worked out to be less expensive than tour buses for 2 and gives you maximum flexibility for when you want to visit the ROCK (yes, to both sunrise and sunset--we did a hike to one of the water holes at Uluru and then drove to sunset viewing spots)
Husband loved hiking in the Olgas, especially Valley of the Winds. If you do it early afternoon you can avoid the tour buses and have the place all to yourself--magical. we did do one tour and a class with the aboriginal tour group which was really worth while--so much to learn and get that perspective. Since we had a car we could meet them at the Uluru Cultural Center and saved about $17(Australian)/person. We did the
Mala Walk Tour and the Dot Painting Workshop---both were great.

We also did the Sounds of Silence dinner which takes you by bus out to spot to view the sunset on the Rock and then pretty good food, drinks and music at sunset and then in the dark by campfire to a white-table cloth dinner followed by a star gazing talk that was informative. Unique to be sitting in utter darkness and learn about the Southern Sky--also had telescopes for you to use and guides to help.........not cheap but a memorable experience.
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Old May 23rd, 2009, 08:15 AM
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Been to the Red Center twice now, the second time for 10 days, which was almost ideal. We loved it all. First we headed east out of Alice, staying at the Ross River Homestead and hiking a couple of the beautiful gorges in the east MacDonnell Ranges - Trephina and N'Dhala. Then we headed west through Alice, visiting Standlley Chasm and spectacular Orimiston Gorge in the West MacDonnells. After a night at Glen Helen, we visited the lookout over Gosse's Bluff, a renowned formation that was created by a giant comet or meteorite impact (very interesting), then driving into Palm Valley (4WD only!) for a great hike through this desert oasis. Alter returning to Alice, we picked up a campervan, and headed out to Uluru, for 3 nights - spent a full day at Uluru, and a full day at the Olgas, doing the magnificant Valley of the Winds hike. Then it was 2 nights/1 day at Kings Canyon, and a drive back to Alice for our flight to Sydney. A wonderful, unforgettable holiday...
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