Uluru questions

Jun 17th, 2005, 09:17 PM
  #1  
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Uluru questions

We'll be spending three nights in the Red Centre (Aug. 31-Sept. 3), arriving Ayers Rock and departing Alice Springs (going to Alice mainly for the galleries). Priorities are to see Uluru and to hike Valley of the Winds at Kata Tjuta and the Kings Canyon rim. We plan to rent a car and self-tour. We'd appreciate help with a few questions:

1) Suggestions for getting good deals at Ayers Rock Resort - we're looking at Desert Gardens and Lost Camel? Any way to book other than through the hotels directly?

2) Is Sounds of Silence dinner worth it?

3) What's the best way to get from Kings Canyon to Alice - along the Stuart Highway or the more scenic Mereenie Loop Road with stops along the way? How long does the latter take?

Much thanks in advance for all your responses.




wanderboys is offline  
Jun 17th, 2005, 10:41 PM
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The Mereenie Loop is unmade road and fairly rough - you would need a 4WD and probably experience in driving a 4WD. The bitumen is longer but much safer. We left Yulara about 9 am and were in Kings Canyon about lunchtime - can't remember the exact timing. There are wayside stops along the way.
We've done both the Valley of the Winds walk and the Kings Canyon rim - both are really spectacular. Make sure you take water, sunscreen and hats and some fruit to nibble along the way. You'll need to allow at least three hours but both well worth the time.
The roadhouse at the turn off the Stuart Highway (Erldunda) has a motel, camping ground and restaurant.
marg is offline  
Jun 18th, 2005, 01:16 AM
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Hi Wanderboys,
there are no good accommodation deals for Yulara. All accommodation there is part of the Voyager group.

An alternative to the expensive hotels are the Cabins at the Camping Ground. They have a bedroom with a dbl bed, another bedroom with 4 bunk beds and a small kitchenette/living area, but no ensuite.

I went to the Sounds of Silence dinner a few years ago and didn't think it was worth the money.

The Mereenie Loop is certainly a much more scenic drive. For people used to driving on dirt roads it can be done with a 2WD unless it has been raining recently, but none of the rental companies wont allow it.
A 4WD is highly recommended and it will take you about 4 hours from the Kings Canyon Resort to Hermannsburg.
You will need a permit ( $ 2.50 I think ), available from the reception at the Kings Canyon Resort.
There are paintings etc. for sale at the Hermannsburg Mission and at better prices than most galleries in Alice.
Should you decide to give the Mereenie Loop a miss and drive to Alice via the Lasseter and Stuart Hwy's then stop at the Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse. Good and reasonably priced artworks are also available here.
On the Stuart Hwy., about 100 km south of Alice is Jims Place ( Stewards Well ), see and listen to Dingie, the singing Dingo
The lowest priced fuel between Yulara and Alice Springs is available at Yulara.
Artworks at the large and posh galleries in Alice are mostly overpriced.
The Centre of Town can be pretty busy at times when the Ghan stops over.

Take care and enjoy,
Mike
OzMike is offline  
Jun 18th, 2005, 04:02 AM
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Hi wanderboys,

Mike has pretty much covered your question just thought I would correct a couple of things and that is, it is Stuarts Well not Stewards Well and it is located 80 km's south of Alice.

I find that Jim's Place, as it is known, has nicer toilet facilities than Erldunda but although Jims Place is a Shell service station it does not take shell card and neither does Erldunda or Kulgera.

There is a market in Todd Mall every second Sunday and you can usually pick up some Aboriginal art direct from the artists, they usually spread their artwork out over the grass in front of the church which is about half way down the mall. Mike however is right about the galleries being way overpriced.

There are no good deals at Yulara Resort it is completely owned by the Voyagers corporation and as such they demand exhorbitant prices imho.

cheers

Paul_S

Paul_S is offline  
Jun 18th, 2005, 07:13 AM
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Hi Paul,
How are things in the Alice?
I goofed about Jim's Place and of course you are right, I should have written Stuarts Well.
Just as well Jim isn't reading this or he would be giving me stick next time I get there.
Cheers,
Mike
OzMike is offline  
Jun 18th, 2005, 08:03 AM
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Hi Mike,

It is really wet here at the moment, been raining for the last 2 days constantly.

Not complaining though cause we really need the water to get some of the roos out of town and back into the bush.

Cheers

Paul_S
Paul_S is offline  
Jun 18th, 2005, 09:05 PM
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Sounds of silence dinner??
Well - we did it - it was aunt's 80th birthday. It was an experience!

Was it worth it - hard to say? The overseas tourists seemed to love it. I thought the food was a bit ordinary - but then, I've eaten kangaroo, crocodile, etc., before, and better.

But - it was a great (if expensive experience) If you can afford it - go for it - you have to eat somewhere! It's a memorable night. If you're penny-pinching - skip it.

Hotels - there are no deals, as the others have said. Outback Pioneer was basic but fine for us - and has the advantage of a pub on-site, as well as a kiosk where you can buy simple meals - hanburgers and the like.
margo_oz is offline  
Jun 19th, 2005, 05:12 PM
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wanderboys and Mike

Mike, do you need spellcheck: His name is actually Dinky. Did you hear he won the $1000 prize for the 20th Anniversary edition of Trivial Pursuits? There is an ABC interview clip that Neil Cammack might be able to find for you. Wanderboys fyi Dinky not only sings, but he accompanies himself on the piano!

Art work by the local aboriginal group is on sale for reasonable prices at the visitor center at Uluru. We bought a nice piece done by one of the park rangers who is a member of that group. Art may not be reasonable in Alice, but the R C Williams shop had great prices on their boots

If you have the time I'd suggest the complete Valley of the Winds hike at Kata Tjunta. Lots of people we met only went as far as the overlook ( this is the toughest part of the walk) but the descent down and through the main valley is beautiful. We were really glad we had fly nets.

Its certainly a grand part of the country.

A/D
AndrewDavid is offline  
Jun 19th, 2005, 05:55 PM
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My girlfriend and I went to the Sounds of Silence a few years ago and we both thought it was a great experience. It wasn't cheap but I certainly thought it was worth it. After dinner they had numerous telescopes set up and the views of the stars/planets were amazing. If you're looking for a unique experience, I would highly recommend it.
rickzalucki is offline  
Jun 19th, 2005, 09:09 PM
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Hi A/D,
you are right, Dinky it should be.
I guess most of us could do with a spell checker, especially when writing in the middle of the night,
e.g. Kata Tjunta should be Kata Tjuta.
But No Worries, it's content that matters

I agree, walking the whole of the Valley of the Winds is great, but when there are adverse weather conditions it will be closed at that first lookout.

@ Paul
Rain is good!
Is the Palm Valley accessible?
I'm hoping that it dries off enough by the time I'm coming up in about 3 weeks and want to do the Gunbarrel Hwy again.

Cheers Mike
OzMike is offline  
Jun 19th, 2005, 09:23 PM
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We also did the Sounds of Silence Dinner last year and thoroughly enjoyed it - and we are Aussies.
We also thought it was unique and very interesting looking through the telescopes etc.
We found the endless procession of tour buses and the resulting crowds at the sunrise viewing to be overwhelming
and not at all enjoyable.
prue is offline  
Jun 19th, 2005, 10:54 PM
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Mike,

Yes Palm Valley is still accessible, we had good rain but not torrential. No Todd flow, lucky for the town actually as the stupid contractors repairning the bridge across chinamans creek at the Gap have built a dam across the creek on which they had built a detour road. They put a few little pipes in to drain the water through but they were totally inadequate for a major down pour. They could have caused widespread flood damage if the rain had turned torrential like it can do.

Cheers

Paul_S
Paul_S is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2005, 05:26 PM
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Hi Wonderboys,
We were in Uluru in 2002 and stayed at the "Sails in the Desert", mega-bucks but worth it after seeing the other accomodations at the resort, if just for the pool and the drinks served pool side. We did do the "Sounds of Silence" dinner which was good and worth the money but not a star in the sky for the "under the stars" lecture. But the fellow giving the star talk gave it the old college try and made the evening enjoyable. You sit at communal tables and have a chance to meet travelers from all over the world.
Our hike thru the Vally of the Winds was one of the most memorable times of our month in Australia. Heading up to the principle lookout we could hear solemn flute music. Nice but we wondered with all the beautiful surrounding why would they pipe in music. As we got to the crest of the lookout there were a group of Japanese tourists taking pictures as they are known to do. But when they were finished with the photo shoot the floutist resumed playing and the entire group began to sing religious hymns-in their native tongue. It was beautiful. The chorus finished with "Amazing Grace" By this time a crowd had formed and everyone applauded the concert. As we were leaving to resume our hike, a male soloist lit into "Ave Maria" a cappella. It's echos followed us down the canyon. Simply devine.
We drove the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs (about a 4 1/2 hour drive at about 150Km/Hr. Don't expect high brow galleries in Alice Springs but we did buy a beautiful Aboriginal dot painting.
Enjoy your time in Australia. My brother-in-law has lived there over 20 years and we are planning a return trip next spring.
mcben391 is offline  
Jun 27th, 2005, 11:43 AM
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Just add our two cents worth. We did Sounds of Silence dinner just this May and it was a very memorable experience. Not for the food which was just average but for the night sky, the stars, the telescopes, the travellers at our table. Wonderful!
PM
petermichelle is offline  
Jun 27th, 2005, 02:56 PM
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I think that the Sounds of Silence Dinner is overpriced. As the main goal is to look at the stars, I'd recommend booking a trip to the Ayers Rock Observatory instead, which is just a 1.5-2 hour astronomy talk and telescope viewing. Cost for an adult is about Aus $25.
ALF is offline  
Jun 27th, 2005, 04:58 PM
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Check out www.wotif.com.au or www.lastminute.com.au for cheap rates on Sails, Lost Camel, Desert Gardens. There are always deals to be had, depending on time of year. Kings Canyon is not all that spectacular if you have seen the Grand Canyon. We stayed 2 nights there at the Resort and thought it was one of the worst located places we've stayed. No view except a few hills of dirt. You cannot see the canyon. The best view is from the Medical Centre. Sails in the Desert is worth the money. Ask for an upgrade if your room is not good. They have some really awful rooms right near the carpark. Ask for a pool view when you check in. The staff are great and the food at their up-market restaurant is superb! Take some wine & snacks with you as food & wine is SO expensive out there. Have a great trip.
Lyndie is offline  
Jun 27th, 2005, 05:36 PM
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What a coincidence! Just got an email from voyages.com offering us (as past guests) special rate for Ayers Rock Resort of $78 pp (min 3 night stay). So there are deals to be had! Email/Ring voyages and tell them your friend is a past guest and you want the past guest rates. Doesn't hurt to try! Good luck!
Lyndie is offline  

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