Uluru is spectacle not everyone has the privilege of seeing in the flesh. People fly from all over the world to stand at its base and star up at the enormous red monolith. Luckily for Aussie families, it’s only a short flight (or load road trip) away. But it’s worth the lengthy journey. Here’s why.
The Red Centre is filled with bucket list sights, here are 10 of the best.
1. Listen to ancient tales from the local Anangu people at Uluru Cultural Centre.
2. Watch Uluru’s spectacular changes of colours at sunrise or sunset.
3. Experience the desert from the back of a camel.
4. Visit the Alice Springs School of the Air.
5. Learn how to reduce your impact on the planet on an Earth’s Cool Tour.
6. Go star spotting on a Family Astro Tour.
7. Enjoy a close encounter of the wild kind at the Red Desert Reptiles Show.
8. Get hands on at a dot painting workshop.
9. Discover Central Australia’s diverse wildlife at Alice Springs Desert Park.
10. Explore the domed rock formations or Kata Tjuta.
Best time to go
The Anangu Aboriginal people believe there are five, not four, seasons at Uluru, characterised by extremes. Whatever time of year you can expect hot days and cool nights, so you’ll need to pack accordingly. While it is hot during the daytime all year around, Summer temps can hit a whopping 50 degrees Celsius, winter can see night time temperatures drop to lows in minus figures.
It is extremely important to plan your family holiday to the Red Centre to coincide with the most kid-friendly weather, especially if travelling with younger children. The best time to visit is between April and September when the weather is milder, there is little chance of rain, and the colours of the rock are at their most vibrant.
Whatever time of year you visit, be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, hats and water bottles to stay hydrated.
Food to try
The modern town of Alice Springs’ food scene caters to every taste and budget with a variety of cuisines from Asian and Mediterranean flavours to wild bush tucker. There are no shortage of restaurants and cafes offering menus and entertainment for the kids either.
In Uluru, take a bush tucker tour to learn about and experience native flavours. There are a selection of restaurants in Yulara Town Centre including a café and Asian cuisine at Ayers Wok. The Outback Pioneer BBQ Bar is the place for cook-your-own steaks and all you can eat salads in a kid friendly beer garden.
The ultimate experience for kids over 10 years of age is Sounds of Silence, where you dine on a bush tucker inspired buffet under a sparkling outback sky while listening to the sounds of the didgeridoo. Afterwards a resident star talker will decode the southern night sky.
Free things to do
While there is a fee to enter Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, once you’ve paid, most activities are free. The park’s Cultural Centre is a great spot for kids to learn and hear about local Indigenous culture and history.
Pack your walking shoes for the variety of incredible walks. The Uluru Base Walk is a 10.6-kilometre flat loop around the base of Ayers Rock which takes around three hours, while the shorter Kuniya Walk is wheelchair accessible and will only take around 45 minutes. The Valley of the Winds Walk is one of the best walks in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, but will take around 3 hours and may be closed on extremely hot days.
Ayers Rock Resort also offers a variety of free activities for guests, including guided native garden walks, bush yarns at the Circle of Sand with a local Aboriginal storyteller, and bush tucker demonstrations. The Wintjiri Arts + Museum showcases Indigenous artists and you can watch artists at work.
Events in Alice Springs and Uluru
Field of Light – The exhibition sees more than 50,000 slender stems crowned with radiant frosted-glass light spheres light up the desert at night.
APRIL: Tjungu Festival – Enjoy a celebration of the best of Australian Indigenous culture.
MAY: Uluru Camel Cup – Come to the camel races for fashions on the field, an outback barbecue and family entertainment.
JUNE: Beanie Festival – Find your perfect hat from the more than 4,000 beanies on display.
JULY: Lasseters Camel Cup – Enjoy camel racing and outback events suitable for the whole family.
AUGUST: Henley-on-Todd Regatta – This fun dry “boat” race is held on the sandy bed of the Todd River in Alice Springs.
AUGUST: Alice Desert Festival – Experience dance and music performances from Aboriginal artists and contemporary acts.
SEPTEMBER: Parrtjima – This free 10-night festival of light transforms Alice Springs into a unique outdoor gallery.
OCTOBER: Uluru Astronomy Weekend – Astronomy enthusiasts of all ages can discover the spectacular Australian outback sky at this popular event.