As far as I'm concerned no first trip to Australia should exclude a visit to Ayres Rock; or Uluru to give it its correct Aboriginal name. We had just under 8 weeks of travel and it was a tough decision to decide what to see it the time. I have always wanted to see the famous *rock* that is so iconic of Australia. After a lot of research both online and from reading guide books, I decided that we would spend 2 nights at the resort.
Before I review the accommodation, let me tell you a little about Uluru. There can be few who haven't seen pictures of the giant sandstone monolith that is Uluru. It looks the more impressive as the land around is flat and barren. We flew from Cairns and the rock is a truly impressive sight as you arrive. Flying also gives you a good perspective of just how vast and empty this land is! The Anangu people are the guardians of Uluru and ask you not to climb the rock as they regard it as a sacred site. We were happy to respect their wishes and think we gained far more by joining one of the excellent ranger led tours of the rock. The free tour taught us about the Anangu legends and we were able to see many cave drawings in addition to learning about the wildlife that survives in this barren landscape.
As I have indicated we took a flight from Cairns arriving at the small airport. All accommodation in the Uluru resort is managed by voyages and is not cheap! Having looked at the hotel options, I decided that self catering would save us money and so booked 2 nights at the Emu apartments. I always like to price check to ensure I get the best deal, but the price to stay at the apartments was the same on all sites. When booking I was also offered the option of booking various tours such as a sunset tour complete with dinner in the desert under the stars. There are several other tours on offer, but all were way out of my budget!
I decided not to pre book a hire car and really regretted the decision! Although there are courtesy shuttle buses that meet all flights and transport guests to the hotels, there are no cheap ways of getting to the rock. We ended up paying almost £300 for 1 adult and 2 children for transport to Uluru! The cost did allow us to also visit Kata Tjuta about a 40 minute drive from the resort and we also used the mini bus transport to watch the sun rise and set over the rock. However it would have been a lot cheaper and more convenient to have hired a car before leaving the U.K. I did try to hire a car from the resort but there was nothing available for several weeks!
Uluru is situated in the Northern Territory and really is in the middle of no where! The nearest town of any size is Alice Springs 443 km's or 6 hours drive away. The area is known as the red centre due to the red colour of the sandy desert soil. Uluru and Kata Tjuta (or the Olga's) are part of a national part and have world heritage status.
After watching the sun rise we spent a day exploring the *rock*. This included spending time looking at the exhibits in the nearby visitor centre. We visited in August and although this is winter, daytime temperatures were high. Once the sun disappears the temperature drops to near freezing! Although the Rock is amazing, I preferred the quieter Olga's where we were able to take an truly awe-inspiring walk.
On arrival at the resort we had to wait for around 20 minutes before being *processed*. We were given our room key and lots of information about the resort, including how to book that extortionately expensive mini bus! The resort has a shopping area that includes a small supermarket and restraurant,gift shop and cash point. The town area also has regular displays of Aboriginal crafts and culture. When we visited there was a stall selling local art and also aboriginal dancing to watch.
The rooms are connected to the town area via a covered walkway. Whilst by day the area is light and feels safe, at night it is dark and poorly lit. I had to walk to the supermarket and encountered a group of drunken young men and felt unsafe.
The resort has an excellent gift shop close to the reception area that includes a free walk around display showing the local culture, history and wildlife.
The staff we encountered in the resort were friendly and helpful, although I was disappointed that there were not more Aboriginal people working in the resort.
We had booked a one bedroom apartment that sleeps up to 4. We were allocated a ground floor apartment that is accessed via a few steps. Once inside I was immediately struck by how dark the apartment was. The kitchen area is reasonable and had a 4 hob burner, microwave, fridge and enough pots and pans to cook a basic meal. There was also a useful electric flying pan, kettle and toaster. It is really important that you store all food in the fridge, as food we left in a cupboard was infested with ants within an hour!
There is a small dining area that includes a table and 4 chairs. There was also an ancient T.V,although we didn't have time for TV! The sofa converts to a double bed and all bedding was included. The sofa bed was well past its sell by date and my son found it very uncomfortable.
The main bedroom had a queen sized double bed and was comfortable. There was ample storage space. The bathroom is accessed via the main bedroom and contained a shower, toilet and hand basin. There were lots of white fluffy towels provided and these were changed every day. There were also complimentary toiletries left in the bathroom. The shower pressure was good and there was always plenty of hot water.
Outside we had a small veranda overlooking the parking area. We didn't use this as we were out all day and it was far too cold to sit outside once the sun had set!
The resort was clean and well cared for and it is possible to see the rock from some areas.
Overall the apartment is spacious with all you need for a short stay. However it is dark and in need of a general refurbishment. I can't remember exactly how much I paid for our 2 nights, but it was about £400. I am really pleased that I have at last seen Uluru, although I don't think I would visit again due to the cost.
If you want to visit, then you will have no choice but to stay in one of the accommodation options managed by the Voyager Company.