Friday, August 21, 2015

Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park

 The changing colours of the rock 

Trish and I saw a Jetstar Friday frenzy sale with $99 each, one-way for Uluru (Ayers Rock) we both decided to book it. Our trip was booked in June for which was a very cool time of the year to visit the area; temperatures were around 5 degrees at night to around 22 degrees during the day which was sunny with a cool breeze. 

We started researching our accommodation and it was a bit of a shock, as the prices for accommodation were way out of our budget, the cheapest option was camping/hostel room but being in the middle of winter (July) the weather in Uluru can get very cold early mornings, evenings and through the night. We also searched through travago and many other travel deals were we finally decided on the Dessert Gardens that is run by the Novotel Group. The lowest price we could find for a room for was $230 per night which included a buffet breakfast. (Valued at $35per head).  ($920 for 4 night), I had a little blond moment at this time and remembered it was a member of the Accor advantage group so I called them to ask a price, for the same room we managed to get a free night which brought it down to $690 for 4 nights and breakfast included still. With the Accor card we also could purchase buy one get on free meals at selected restaurant throughout the resort. On arrival at the Dessert Gardens we were also upgraded to a deluxe room free of charge. The hotel Dessert Gardens was quiet and spacious. We were upgraded to the deluxe room which was in a quiet location of the property, large room with a court yard out back, were we could just see the rock through the trees.  The room had all the standard features with air con, TV, fridge, jug, 2 large beds, bathroom with bath and shower. The room was very simple and acceptable, but for the price wasn’t anything special. (We have paid a lot less in other areas for nicer places). Our photos of the room, here.

We started looking at the places of interested were we wanted see, and looked at  different kinds of transport around to do this., we decided to hire a car being our best option, so we had the freedom to do our own thing, I googled a few car hire company's and came across an hire car search page called vroomvroomvroom and booked a small car for $33.00 a day this costing $99 for 3 days, on arrival to pick up car we spoke to another traveller who also was picking up a hire car she had not booked prior, and she stated she payed $150 per day.  We also got an upgrade on car, to a nice Toyota corolla. Also a word of warning there is only one petrol station in Yulara and with no signage of price when looking at pump the price being $2.09 per litre with a cost of $60 for half a tank.

Getting from Ayers Rock Airport to Yulara is fairly easy you can catch the free bus to your accommodation with a few handy tips that are worth listening too and don’t forget to buckle up. Or the other option is to hire a car.

Yulara is little a small town made up of a town centre surrounded by accommodation of all budgets and staff housing. In the town centre you’ll find a post office, ANZ  ATM, IGA grocery shop and a host of cafes and restaurants.  There is also an art gallery where you can watch and buy aboriginal art, and join in on one of the cultural talks. There is only one place to buy alcohol and it’s the Out Back Pub.
Getting around Yulara is easy you can catch the shuttle bus which does it rounds every 20 minutes, starting at 1030am till 6pm and 630pm till 1230pm but walking is very easy and the distance isn’t too far.

We had buffet breakfast included so we filled up there each day. We also did a few shops at the IGA grocery shop which was good to make lunch each day and a few snacks and prices were good. Most nights we ate out, our first night we ate at the Out Back Pub one burger, steak sandwich and chips cost $35 and four beers cost $30, great food in a great setting. The 2nd night we got take away at Ayers Wok a noodle bar with most meals around $16, the food was delicious. Our 3rd night we ate at the Out Back Pub again with two burgers, chips $35 and two beers $15. On our last night we ate at Gecko and ate an Emu, Kangaroo and beef pizza with salad and two soft drinks $55, The pizza was pretty tasty and better  than we were expecting.

The only place to buy alcohol is the Out Back Pub, as the whole area is classed as a dry area by the local indigenous people the Anangu. To buy beer from the pub you need to show your room key and you can only buy 1 six pack of beer per person at a cost of around $30.

Valley of the winds walk, Kata Tjuta
We did a number of treks while in Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park, the park itself has an entrance fee of $25 (3 day pass). Over first was the Valley Of The Winds at Kata Tjuta (which means many heads) or the Olgas we trekked to the 2nd lookout before turning back, which was about 6km. A short drive down the road we did Walpa Gorge Walk which is into another section of Kata Tjuta it was 2.6km return. On the way back we also stopped at the Kata Tjuta Dune Walk which was 1.2 km return which gave us a breath taking view of Kata Tjuta from a distance. And to turn around and see Uluru in the other direction was amazing. We loved Kata Tjuta more than we enjoyed Uluru.
We got to the ranger station By 630am and got in line and boy did the line soon grow, Get there early to get a good place at the front of the line. A few minutes to 7am (sunrise) we arrived at Mutijulu to get some photos.  

Uluru and cave paintings
The cultural centre is near Uluru and worth a look, we headed to Uluru after. We had mixed feeling about climbing Uluru and when we arrived found it closed due to high winds. We decided to walk around Uluru which is 10.5km, from the point you climb the rock we went to the right which follows the close to Uluru till around the halfway point then the track is further away.  During the walk we took two sidewalks the first to a waterhole with a few cave paintings on the Kuniya Walk and the Mala Walk which took it up to 15km and about two to three hours.
At sunset we drove to Uluru Car Sunset Park to see the amazing colour change of the rock, a truly amazing experience to witness. 

We took a look at the Camel camp, which is a short drive from Yulara. We didn’t ride the camels but we did walk around and meet a few as well as a few other Australian animals fenced into a small paddock. While feeding one of the camels it nearly bite my hand, and those camels have some big teeth.

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