My guide to visiting Uluru with Kids gives you everything you need to know to plan the best family holiday in the Red Centre.
Rising out of the desert in the middle of the Australian outback in the Northern Territory is the most iconic rock in the world: Uluru.
Attracting over 250,000 visitors every year, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in central Australia enjoys Natural World Heritage status on two fronts: for its unique geology and its cultural importance.
There’s no denying this is a magical place to visit and visiting Uluru an incredible experience to share with your kids.
There’s an abundance of learning opportunities, including a valuable insight into the Anagnu (traditional owners of Uluru) culture and history. And there are loads of fantastic tours and activities to get involved with.
But where to start? Here I share lots of practical information and top tips for how to make the most of your trip to Australia’s red centre.
Fun Fact! Did you know that Uluru is so remote that when the international space station flies over head, you are closer to it than the nearest set of traffic lights or McDonalds?!
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Getting to Uluru
Yulara has its own airport called Ayers Rock/Connellan Airport and you can fly directly here from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, Adelaide and Alice Springs.
The airport is around a 20 minute drive from Ayers Rock Resort and all hotel bookings include free coach transfers to and from the airport. Easy peasy.
Another alternative is to fly into Alice Springs airport and make the 5-hour drive from here.
If you’re feeling adventurous, have time to spend and want to experience Australia’s red centre in all its glory, then you can visit Uluru on an unforgettable road trip along the Red Centre Way.
You will need around a week to do this justice and you will take in Alice Springs, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Watarrka / Kings Canyon, and Tjoritja / West MacDonnell National Park. Click here to learn more.
The Best Time to Visit Uluru
The best time to visit Uluru is generally considered to be between May and September. This is when the temperatures are cooler making it more pleasant for sightseeing during the day. August and September are also the best month for seeing wildflowers.
Bear in mind that it can get pretty cold in the desert at night so if you are visiting during the colder months, remember to bring some warm clothes if you are venturing out in the early mornings and evenings.
If you plan on visiting Uluru during the summer, bear in mind that it will be very hot (over 35ºC) during the day. You are advised not to be out walking past 11am at this time of year and be sure to take plenty of water with you.
Summer also sometimes brings storms so you may be lucky to experience a spectacular electric storm over Uluru and get to see the waterfalls flowing.
Note that flies can also be a problem in the summer so you will need a fly net (we used these at times during May so I can imagine they would be imperative in the summer).
Before you go
Uluru is an extremely popular destination. Particularly during peak season, accommodation and activities get booked up months in advance.
So it pays to be organised and book everything ahead so that you aren’t left disappointed.
- Book your flights – but don’t book your flights until you are sure that there is accommodation available.
- Book your accommodation – Ayers Rock Resort gets booked up months in advance so book your accommodation as soon as you know when you want to go, especially if you have your heart set on a particular hotel. (See below for all your accommodation options)
- Book hire car – you don’t really need a car when you are here (see below for more information on getting around) but if you do, book as far ahead as possible as there are only a limited number of cars here.
- Pre-book your activities – as soon as you know you are going, book your activities. The various tours and dining experiences have limited capacity and they can book up quickly with tour groups. You don’t want to be left missing out on some of these experiences, so book ahead.
- Buy your park pass – everyone needs a park pass to enter Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. You won’t be allowed to board the tour bus or drive into the park without one, so make sure you organise this ahead of time. Click here to book online.
All accommodation at Uluru is located within Ayers Rock Resort in Yulara, a 10-minute drive from the entrance to the national park.
Ayers Rock Resort is a self contained village that comprises a range of accommodation, restaurants, art galleries and shops all centred around the ‘Town Square’.
Sails in the Desert, Emu Walk Apartments, the Lost Camel Hotel and the Desert Gardens Hotel are all within a 5-minute walk from the Town Square.
The Outback Pioneer Hotel and the Campground are best reached via the free resort shuttle bus that links all the accommodation with the town square and the camel farm.
Click here to read more about the Best Accommodation in Uluru.
- Sails in the Desert – all 228 rooms can accommodate 4 people with two queen beds available in all room types. There is an onsite swimming pool, spa, restaurant, bar and brasserie.
- Emu Walk Apartments – self-contained one and two-bedroom apartments with fully equipped kitchens and sofa beds in the living area.
- Desert Gardens Hotel – all room can accommodate 4 people with two queen beds. Some rooms offer views of Uluru. Has a small swimming pool and onsite restaurants.
- Lost Camel Hotel – not really suited to families as rooms are small and only sleep 2 people. Has a swimming pool.
- Outback Pioneer Hotel – motel-style accommodation. All rooms have 1 double + 1 single bed, with interconnecting rooms available. Onsite restaurant and BBQ facilities.
- Ayres Rock Campground – offers both un-powered and powered campsites for tents and caravans plus two-bedroom air-conditioned cabins. Facilities include swimming pool, playground, bbq facilities, outdoor kitchen and self-service laundry facilities.
- Longitude 131 – luxurious, high end tented resort with views of Uluru. The resort is more suited to couples (kids must be 10+ to stay here) but the two-bedroom Dune Pavilions are next-level amazing (with a price tag to match).
There are several restaurants to choose from within Ayers Rock Resort. Some of these are located within the Town Square and others are within the hotels.
There is also the option for self-catering by picking up supplies from the IGA supermarket in the Town Square and takeaway from Ayers Wok noodle bar here too.
- Kulata Academy Cafe (Town Square) – your best bet for barista coffee plus pastries, pies, sandwiches and salads. This is where trainees of the National Indigenous Training Academy take their first steps in their hospitality careers.
- Geckos Cafe (Town Square) – all day dining serving breakfast and classic dishes such as pizza, pasta, burgers and salads. Takeaway available.
- Ilkari Restaurant (Sails in the Desert) – breakfast and dinner buffet restaurant.
- Walpa Lobby Bar (Sails in the Desert) – casual bar serving up classics such as burgers, salads and club sandwiches plus cocktails and drinks.
- Pira Pool Bar (Sails in the Desert) – sharing the same menu as the Walpa Lobby Bar, but you can enjoy your meal and drinks relaxing poolside.
- Mangata Bistro & Bar (Desert Gardens Hotel) – open for breakfast and all-day bistro classics such as burgers, pastas, salads and poke bowls.
- Arnguli Grill (Desert Gardens Hotel) – a la carte restaurant focussing on signature grilled meats.
- Bough House (Outback Pioneer Hotel) – casual buffet restaurant with roast of the day.
- Outback BBQ & Bar (Outback Pioneer Hotel) – select your preferred cut of meat and cook it yourself with the accompanying salad and sides bar.
- Outback Pioneer Kitchen (Outback Pioneer Hotel) – kiosk dishing up burgers, pizzas and salads with communal tables for a cheap and cheerful dinner.
Uluru dining experiences
For something extra special you can also book onto an exclusive dining experience to dine under the stars. These need to be booked well in advance as they book out quickly (we unfortunately missed out).
Tali Wiru is the ultimate Uluru dining experience. The evening kicks off with champagne and canapés at sunset and progresses to a 4-course fine dining meal under the stars.
The experience includes a didgeridoo performance and a fireside Indigenous storyteller sharing insights on culture, history, spirituality and the land.
This is an adults-only experience for ages 16+. You can arrange babysitting with your hotel.
Sounds of Silence
Sounds of Silence is a more low-key affair and suitable for kids aged 10 and above.
The evening includes bush tucker-inspired cuisine, sparkling wine, a didgeridoo performance and a special astronomy lesson from an expert star talker.
Field of Lights Dinner
This experience combines the Sounds of Silence Dinner with a tour of the incredible Field of Lights installation. Ages 10+.
AAT Kings BBQ dinner
This tour combines the sacred sites and sunset at Uluru tour followed by a BBQ dinner under the stars, with beer and wine included. Suitable for kids. Click here to learn more.
Skip the hotel buffet breakfast and head out into the great outdoors to enjoy breakfast as the sun rises over Uluru. This tour includes bacon & egg rolls, traditional dampers before a guided tour at the base of Uluru. Suitable for kids aged 5 and above.
Things to do in Uluru with Kids
There are loads of amazing things to do in Uluru with kids, from watching sunrise over the rock to taking a helicopter ride, visiting the spectacular Field of Lights and learning about the local Anagnu culture.
Even if you want to prefer to explore on your own, I do recommend taking at least one guided tour as they are a great way to learn from the tour guides about Anagnu culture and history.
Here are some of the best family activities in Uluru:
- Visit the Cultural Centre – this is a great first stop to gain an insight into Anagnu culture and learn some of the stories before venturing into the area. You can also pick up some souvenirs and buy some artwork by local artists here.
- Sunrise / Sunset at Uluru – if possible, aim to do both. If you only have time to do one, I would opt for the sunrise tour as watching the rock emerge from the darkness and the colour changes is spectacular. Yes, it’s worth getting out of bed early for. We did this sunrise tour which combined visiting Kata Tjuta.
- Field of Lights – this beautiful art installation comprises 50,000 handblown light bulbs and 380km of fibre optic cables. It is super cool and impressive and inspiring. Don’t miss it! Click here to learn more.
- Uluru Base Walk / Cycle – you can walk around the entire base of Uluru. The walk takes around 3 hours and there are information boards introducing the various stories along the way. Or cycle it in around 1.5 hours. Get an audio guide to make the most of your experience.
- Helicopter Ride over Uluru – yes it’s expensive but it is an experience you won’t forget! Seeing the mighty Uluru and Kata Tjuta from the air is incredible. Plus, flying in a helicopter is always cool. We did this 25-minute helicopter tour and it was completely awesome!
- Visit Kata Tjuta – It’s less well known than Uluru but Kata Tjuta (also known a the Olgas) is every bit as impressive. It’s name means ‘many heads’ thanks to its 36 domes and they stretch for 26km. Do the Walpa Gorge walk to appreciate the enormity of it. We did this tour to Kata Tjuta (combined with sunrise at the viewing platform)
- Reptiles of the Red Desert Show – this informative and fun show introduces the kids to some of the local wildlife that features in many of the Anagnu stories. Get up close to snakes, lizards and more.
- Take a Camel Ride – How do you get around in the desert? By camel of course! Uluru camel tours are a unique and memorable way to take in sunrise or sunset. The kids will love it! Click here to learn more.
Click here to read our full article about the Best Things to do in Uluru for more information on all of the above plus more fun ideas.
Getting Around Uluru
There are various options for getting around Uluru.
Uluru car hire
If you want to be really self-sufficient and enjoy exploring on your own, then you can hire a car at Ayers Rock airport (or Alice Springs airport).
Uluru Hop-on Hop-off bus
Another option is to take advantage of the hop-on, hop-off bus. You can buy return tickets to go to Uluru or Kata Tjuta, or buy a 1-3 day pass, including family passes.
The bus picks up at the hotels and campground and drop off at the cultural centre, and various spots for walking. The timetable changes depending on the time of year, but there are usually around 5 runs around Uluru daily. Click here to learn more.
Ayers Rock Resort Shuttle Bus
Ayers Rock Resort is small and most accommodation is within a short walk from each other and from the Town Square. If you are staying at the campground, Outback Pioneer Hotel or want to visit the Camel Farm (where you can watch the Reptiles of the Red Desert Show), you can hop on the resort shuttle bus.
This is free and runs every 20 minutes, stopping at all accommodation options and the camel farm.
The easiest way to get around Uluru is obviously to join a tour. This way you are picked up at your accommodation and dropped off again at the end of the tour. ATT Kings have a comprehensive program of tours to choose from. Click here to learn more.
What to Pack for Uluru
My first tip for packing for Uluru is to leave anything white at home! That red dirt gets everywhere and it doesn’t wash out easily. So no white shoes, socks or shorts/trousers.
For the same reason, bring extra changes of clothes and plastic bags for packing your dirty shoes and clothes in so that the red dirt doesn’t cover everything in your suitcase when you pack to go home.
Layers are a good idea as the temperatures can vary greatly between day and night in the desert. If you set off early in the morning it will be quite chilly but will heat up quickly once the sun comes up.
Everything is casual so no need for fancy clothes or high heels. Good walking shoes are a must as is a hat, sunglasses, suncream and of course that all important water bottle.
Here are some essential items to add to your Uluru packing list:
- Casual clothes – bring layers so that you can dress up warm in the mornings and remove clothes as the day gets warmer. Shorts/trousers/t-shirts/jumpers/light jacket. Also bring extra changes of clothes, especially for the kids who seem to get covered head to toe in red dirt as soon as they leave the hotel room.
- Comfortable walking shoes – there’s plenty of walking to be done so make sure you have comfy shoes. Leave your white trainers at home though as they will turn red!
- Spare pair of shoes – like I said, your shoes will get ingrained with red dirt. Bring a spare pair for going out in the evening and wearing on the plane home.
- Water bottles for everyone – it gets hot and thirsty in the desert so make sure everyone has a refillable water bottle.
- Fly nets – you will definitely need these if you are visiting during the summer but even in May I bought some for the kids as the flies were bothering them. You can buy them in the town square or at the art gallery if you forget to bring them with you.
- Hat, sunglasses and sun cream – the sun is strong in the desert. Slip, slop, slap.
- Snacks – often the tours have you out and about for hours at a time. The tours do provide some snacks but it is a good idea to bring some of your own for the kids. There is also an IGA supermarket in the town square at Ayers Rock Resort if you need to stock up.
- Plastic bags – for packing up all those dirty clothes and shoes and stopping the red dirt getting all over everything else in your suitcase.
Need a more comprehensive list? Click here to get my family packing list with free printable download.