The highlight of our last trip away to central Australia, has to be seeing the Field of Light at Uluru. That experience will be one to remember for a long time and gave a different perspective to this desert area and its ethereal beauty. With any visit to the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, I would recommend at the very least three days but preferably longer to give yourself time to take a few of the walks during the day.
It’s worth making the effort to be at both sites for a sunrise on different days and the same goes for sunsets and during the day, there are walks to take at Uluru and Kata Tjuta, so you can see why a few days are needed. There is a fee to visit the park which at the moment is $38 per adult for a three day pass or you can buy an annual pass for $50 per head. It’s very easy to buy online and then you get a QR code on your phone which you scan at the checkpoint gate each time you want to enter.
With an Uluru sunset in particular it can be hard to appreciate the colour changes of the rock with the naked eye but if you take a few photos over the time, you’ll be amazed by the difference. From the rock you can then visit the cultural centre which has a wealth of information about traditional stories and law as well as arts and crafts made by the local people available to purchase.
There are a number of walks to take at points around the rock including a ten kilometre track around its circumference which is best to start early in the day as some sections have very little shade available. There are some ranger guided walks or you can take them on your own with easily defined walking paths and signage along the way to learn about the stories, wildlife and plants. Some parts of the rock are culturally sensitive and the traditional owners ask that photographs aren’t taken there.
Depending on where the sun is during the day can dictate which walks to take as some will be more shaded throughout the day. One really interesting spot to head to is the Mutitjulu Waterhole which is always shady, has a lot of bush tucker growing, a permanent waterhole with running water and rock art sites. It’s a very serene area to sit in silence and appreciate your peaceful surroundings.
Some of the walks you can take close up to Uluru are terrific alternative spots to experience sunrise and sunsets if you’ve seen them from afar on other days. All of these walks are easy, well laid out and so much better than when people used to scramble up and over the actual rock , which today you can still see where the scars of human tracks have left their mark.
If you are up for something a little more interesting than a walk, these days you can also take other tours around the rock depending on your budget – by bike, Segway, camel tour, motorbike or helicopter.
This formation of 46 domes (once known as the Olgas) are 50 kilometres from Uluru but both are each easily visible from each other.
There are two walks to take at Kata Tjuta the Valley of the Winds walk and Walpa Gorge. The Walpa Gorge walk is around 2.6 kilometres return and takes about an hour to complete. The Valley of the Winds walk gives spectacular lookout views and there are two options, one a 5.4 kilometre return trip to Karingana lookout which takes around 2 and a half hours and has some very steep sections to negotiate or there is a shorter option to Karu lookout.
The track is a little steep and rocky and so the 2.2 kilometre return trip takes around 1 hour. The views along the way and when you eventually arrive at the lookout are worth the effort. It definitely pays to take water, wear sturdy and comfortable walking shoes and insect repellent or a fly net, they are diabolical.
Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park is a very special part of Australia with such a deep history for the traditional owners. This is our third visit over the years and I still feel like we’ve hardly begun to discover all that these amazing natural landscapes have to show.