30 ways to explore Uluru without climbing it
WITH THE closure of the Uluru climb set for 26 October this year, the traditional owners of the land, the Anangu people, welcome travellers to continue to visit the rock and its surrounding areas. This date marks 34 years since Uluru and Kata Tjuta were handed back to the Anangu people. Here’s our list of 30 amazing experiences to keep you busy.
Begin at the beginning at the Tjukurpa Tunnel in the Cultural Centre
Anangu suggest you make the Tjukurpa Tunnel at the Cultural Centre your very first experience of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. You will learn about many important creation stories and about Tjukurpa, the foundation of Anangu culture.
Walk or ride around the ancient rock formations
Enjoy the freedom to explore the iconic rock formation by walking or riding the 10.6km loop around the base of the rock. It takes most people around 3.5 hours to complete, is very easy and flat!
Watch the sunrise and sunset illuminate Uluru
Take in the unforgettable colours of Australia’s heartland by watching the sun rise or set over the 348m-tall Uluru.
Take a free guided base walk around Uluru
On an early morning tour you will hear the ancestral story of the world’s oldest continuous living culture from the Mala people and visit painted caves and waterholes.
Go to the Talinguru Nyakunytjaku lookout
This lookout is the best place to see the big rock at sunrise; Uluru in the foreground and Kata Tjuta far away on the south-western horizon.
Take on the challenging Valley of the Winds walk
The views from this 3–4 hour walk, which traverses rocky tracks, valleys and creek beds, are breathtaking and well worth the effort.
Don’t miss Kings Canyon
Located 3.5 hours east of Uluru, Kings Canyon is famous for its scenic Rim Walk, with spectacular rock formations and lush gorges.
Walk to Mutitjulu Waterhole
It’s just a short walk to this waterhole, where you’ll experience glistening water and may also catch glimpse of a wallaby or see some tjantu (bush tomatoes). You can also read about the Anangu people’s stories of Liru and Kuniya along the walk.
See the radiant Field of Light show
The stunning desert light installation by renowned British artist Bruce Munro is a must see, as the ground in front of Uluru is illuminated under a canopy of stars.
Immerse yourself in nature at Walpa Gorge
Only a 20-minute drive from Uluru, Walpa Gorge walk is an easy 2.6km-return track that crosses through the domes of Kata Tjuta.
Discover Uluru from views on the Liru walk
Winding through the mulga forest like the poisonous brown snake the Liru walk is named after, this track connects the Cultural Centre with the base of Uluru. The walk passes a large shelter that is a fantastic place to soak up the solitude and experience the sheer magnitude of Uluru. You may even see the striking red-capped robin.
Discover sacred sites on the North-east face walk
The north-east face of Uluru features many mysterious formations dotted with sacred sites, which hold chapters of creation stories of the Anangu culture that can only be learned in person.
Look to the stars
The best place to gaze into the night sky and see the stars is in a vast unlit landscape.
Experience the ultimate outback adventure… on top of a camel
Witness the ancient monolith bathed in morning and afternoon sun while on the top of this desert animal.
Take part in the Australian Outback Marathon
With the red earth pounding beneath your feet and the spectacular views of Uluru and Kata-Tjuta in the background, the annual Australian Outback Marathon, held in July each year, is something not to miss if you enjoy running.
Keep an eye out for the interesting native wildlife
The unique wildlife of the red country – from kangaroos and dingoes to the thorny devil (ngiyari) and the world’s largest lizard the perentie (ngintaka) – are sure to surprise you or maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the elusive southern marsupial mole, which doesn’t even have eyes.
Go birdwatching in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
As a bird-lover’s paradise, the surroundings of Uluru have a recorded 178 species of bird, with several rare ones. A few iconic birds to keep your eye out for are the rainbow bee-eater, the fairy-wren, the grey-headed honeyeater as well as keeping your eye in the sky for the brown falcon and Australian kestrel.
Practice the traditional names of birds on the Uluru birds app
Aboriginal Traditional owners of this area, Anangu, refer to a variety of bird species in their own language and provide ways on how to pronounce bird names in Pitjantjatjara through the use of the bird app called Uluru birds.
Eat at an open air restaurant with amazing views of Uluru
Set under a seemingly endless sky with magnificent views of Uluru, Tali Wiru (meaning beautiful dune in local Pitjantjatjara) hosts a magical night of fine dining.
Soar towards Uluru from above
Are you a thrill seeker? Take to the skies from 12,000 feet on a tandem sky dive, with breathtaking views of Uluru, Kata-Tjuta, Lake Amadeus and Mt Conner.
Outback bush culture
Learn about the ancient flavours, food and culture of the outback with the free Uluru bush tucker journey. With 416 species of plants native to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, there’s an abundance to discover.
Partake in a traditional dot-paining workshop at the non-profit Maruku Arts
Get inspired by the storytelling of the creation time (Tjukurpa) to create your own work of art at the craft cooperation. Sit down with a local Anangu artist to learn about ancient symbols and traditional tools for hunting.
See original dot paintings at Mulgara Gallery
The gallery, located at Sails in the Desert, contains many artworks with different regional styles of dot paintings. It’s a great place to visit soon after arriving in the Red Centre to learn about the textures, colours and history of the land.
See handcrafted objects at Mingkiri Arts Gallery
Spend your afternoon at Mingkiri Arts Gallery, which showcases glassware, pottery and zebra rock artworks, located at the Desert Gardens Hotel.
Visit Wintjiri Arts and Museum
Adjacent to the Desert Gardens Hotel in the Ayers Rock Resort precinct, this interactive gallery and museum invites you to watch artists work and ask them questions to develop a deeper understanding about the culture and symbolism of their artworks. This gallery showcases the works of the resort’s Artist in Residence program.
Hear the stories of Aboriginal culture and history at the Bush Yarn
The free 30-minute talk is located in Yulara Town Square, where you will learn about Aboriginal history and culture such as bush tucker and hunting weapons like boomerangs.
Visit the Mani-Mani Indigenous Cultural Theatre
Watch the free contemporary sound, light and 3D visual Indigenous storytelling show of ‘The Eagle, the Cockatoo and the Crow’.
Listen to a thought-provoking presentation
The Cultural Centre hosts a number of free presentations every weekday running for half an hour to an hour. They begin at 10am and topics vary from day to day.
Join park rangers to learn about native animals
The free, 45-minute presentation is held every Wednesday at the cultural centre and provides a deeper understanding of the national park by looking at some of the extinct animals and also how to protect the endangered ones.
Hone your photography skills!
The park has amazing photo opportunities of sweeping landscapes, geological formations, delicate flora and roaming wildlife. Uluru is a photographer’s dream subject as the constant changing light allows the rock to look stunning at all hours of the day, from dusty-coloured sand to bright red. Just make sure to respect the cultural protocols.