This article contains the best travel advice you’ll find online for people who want to travel from Adelaide to Uluru.
Most people never forget the moment they set eyes on the majestic rock in Australia’s Red Centre. But for first-timers, it can be overwhelming to figure out how to get there from home.
Let’s make it easier for all you South Australians with the travel bug.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting to Uluru from Adelaide.
If there’s one silver lining to the global travel restrictions, it’s a renewed appreciation for the treasures in our own backyard.
Imagine watching the sun rise over a red rock that’s taller than the Eiffel Tower, older than dinosaurs and sacred to the first people of this ancient land.
More than 500 million years ago, Uluru rose from the ocean to become the beating heart of Australia.
The giant sandstone monolith now towers over the desert plain in the Northern Territory (863 metres above sea level).
It was called “Ayers Rock” until 1993, but is now officially “Uluru” to show respect to the custodians of the land.
This World Heritage Site has been visited by hundreds of thousands of wide-eyed visitors who’ve camped under the stars, hiked through rocky formations and learnt about tradition from the local Anangu people.
Ready to find out what all the fuss is about?
#1. How to get to Uluru from Adelaide
There are 3 main ways you can get from Adelaide to Uluru:
- Fly by plane (quickest way)
- Take a road trip in your car (enjoy the scenery along the way)
- Train travel (most luxurious)
#2. Adelaide to Uluru distance
Hint: It’s too far to walk.
✈️ Air travel:
Adelaide Airport to Alice Springs Airport by plane: 1320 kilometres, 2 hours and 10 minutes (no stops)
Adelaide to Ayers Rock Airport by plane: 1304 kilometres, 18 hours (includes average layover time of 12 hours)
Whyalla Airport to Ayers Rock Airport: 1080 kilometres, 19 hours (includes average layover time of 12 hours)
🚌 From the Airports to Uluru:
We offer airport transfers, but some travellers also enjoy booking a car. Here’s for far the drive is:
Ayers Rock Airport to Uluru by car: 30.1 km via State Route 4 and Uluru Rd (29 minutes)
Alice Springs Airport to Uluru by car: 467.8 km via Stuart Highway/A87 and State Route 4 (4 hours and 53 minutes)
🚗 Driving from Adelaide to Uluru:
Adelaide to Uluru by car: 1602 km (17 hours, which is roughly 2 days of driving)
Adelaide to Uluru via The Ghan: 1600 km (17 hours)
#3. Driving from Adelaide to Uluru
1600 km, 17 hours (roughly 2 days of driving, with at least one overnight stop)
You could certainly make it from A to B as quickly as possible at a safe speed, by only stopping to rest when necessary (short breaks at least every 2 hours).
But where’s the fun in that?
After all, it’s not every day you go on a road trip in the Aussie outback.
You’ll be tempted to slow down and appreciate the native forests and craggy mountains passing by, and there are plenty of exciting destinations along the way.
You don’t need a 4WD, the roads are completely sealed via The Stuart Highway and Lasseter Highway. There are also unsealed gravel options for 4WD vehicles that want to go off-road (through the Flinders Ranges along the Oodnadatta Track).
Expect to pay around $250 to $350 each way, but this could be higher depending on your vehicle and fuel requirements. You can use this fuel calculator to get a rough estimate.
#4. Adelaide to Uluru itinerary when driving
Here’s a suggestion of locations you can visit while on the road. Note there are many other wonderful options not covered here.
1. Port Augusta, South Australia:
Distance from Adelaide to Port Augusta: 308 km (3 hours and 38 minutes)
You’ve been on the road for a few hours, so why not head to the Flinders Ranges and stretch your legs on the Red Cliff Walk? A short stroll is pleasing enough, but the full 4.5km track will reveal the dappled woodlands and sand dunes in all their glory. This takes around two hours, so take plenty of water and wear comfortable shoes.
If you want to give your body a rest while fuelling your brain, check out the Wadlata Outback Centre – a popular attraction that’s won multiple state awards. This is a wonderful way to learn about the rich history of the region, stretching back millions of years. The hands-on exhibits are perfect for time travellers of all ages. That’s not all: Aboriginal Dreamtime Stories give us a glimpse into sacred knowledge that’s been passed down through generations.
Accommodation: The self-contained Majestic Oasis Apartments are 7 minutes away from the Wadlata Outback Centre, with water views. There’s an outdoor pool, BBQs, free Wi-Fi and parking.
2. Woomera, South Australia:
Distance from Port Augusta to Woomera: 181 km (2 hours)
In the 1940s, certain parts of this small town were subjected to rocket tests. Learn about planes, rockets and drones at the Woomera Missile Park, which also features a satellite that crashed in the Simpson Desert.
If you’re around on a Friday night, the volunteer-run Woomera Baker Observatory may be open to visitors. You can check their facebook group to find out if your timing is right. Take advantage of the fact there’s no light pollution here. Learn about the cosmos as you observe the planets and stars. The volunteers are knowledgeable and passionate!
Accommodation: Spuds Roadhouse Motel is located in nearby Pimba. This iconic roadhouse has a rustic outback vibe. There’s a restaurant, service station, bar and supermarket. You can spend the night in a deluxe motel room, or use the caravan and camping facilities.
3. Coober Pedy, South Australia:
Distance from Woomera to Coober Pedy: 374.3km (3 hours and 51 minutes)
Do you want to know what it’s like to live underground? You’ll find out in this old opal mining town. The majority of locals live in “dugouts” below the ground, to escape the scorching daytime temperatures. The Umoona Opal Mine and Museum will teach you all about mining, and you’ll even get up close and personal to the underground homes in a guided tour.
If you love nature, you must check out the Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park, on the land of the Antakirinja Matuntjara Yankunytjatjara people. Here you’ll find 60 native flora species, kangaroos, echidnas, native birds and other wildlife.
Accommodation: There’s a variety of unassuming rooms at the Desert Cave Hotel, including underground options. Nothing like sleeping in a comfortable sandstone cave with modern amenities! There’s also a pool, restaurant, cafe, bar, free Wi-Fi and plenty of parking.
4. Erldunda, Northern Territory:
Distance from Coober Pedy to Erldunda: 487 km (4 hours and 53 minutes)
Welcome to the Northern Territory, you’re close to your final destination now.
Erldunda is a homestead located in the centre of Australia, only a few hours’ drive from Uluru. If you don’t want to pay higher prices for the closest accommodation to Uluru, this is a more affordable alternative (but you’ll need to leave super early if you’re hoping to see the sunrise over the rock). The Erldunda Roadhouse features a kangaroo farm, emu enclosure, restaurant, pool, country-style motel units and caravan sites.
5. Uluru, Northern Territory
Distance from Erldunda to Uluru: 267 km (2 hours and 50 minutes)
The Desert Gardens Hotel is the perfect spot to rest between your Uluru adventures. There are a range of accommodation options, including luxury rooms that reveal the majestic rock in all its glory. There’s also a pool, shopping centre, bar and delicious food at the Arnguli Grill Restaurant. You’re a short walk away from many lookouts – a real treat for the eyes!
#5. Adelaide to Uluru flight time
There are two popular options:
- Flying from Adelaide Airport to Ayers Rock Airport
- Flying from Adelaide Airport to Alice Springs Airport.
Flying to Alice Springs is faster, as there are no stops in between.
If you fly to Ayers Rock Airport, there’s usually a stop-over (times vary, depending on the airline you choose).
#6. Adelaide to Uluru train
Traveling by train is the best way to drink in the scenery, as you don’t need to keep your eyes on the road like when you’re driving. Just sit back and watch the changing colours of the desert flash by your window, while sipping a fine wine.
There’s no direct train from Adelaide, so you need to travel to Adelaide first (either by car, train, bus or plane).
The entire Ghan trip is around 54 hours, or two and a bit days. Passengers can choose to end their journey at Alice Springs or continue onwards.
Adelaide to Uluru via The Ghan: 1600 km (17 hours)
Cost: around $1,599 during high season for a one-way trip (single)
If you want to enjoy the entire trip by rail, you can first catch a train from Adelaide to Adelaide.
Adelaide to Adelaide via The Overland: 737km (10 hours 25 minutes)
Cost: around $164
#7. Some activities in Uluru (no matter how you travel there):
There’s plenty to do in Uluru, here are a few of our favourite activities:
Mala Walk: The quietest time to explore the ancient campsites, caves and rock art is sunset, when the guided tours have ended for the day. Sit on a bench near the waterhole at Kantu Gorge and watch the sun sink at the foot of the giant rock.
Field of Light: Nothing can compete with the vibrant, starry sky in Uluru – unshielded from the light pollution of cities. However, the Field of Light display comes close, as far as man-made marvels go. This fantasy garden bewitches the desert with colourful jewels of light that kiss the ground as far as the eye can see.
Dot painting workshop: Create a traditional artwork to show off to friends back home, while learning from the best – local Anangu artists. There’s a special rate for families, and children are welcome (minimum age is five).
Sounds of Silence: There’s no better dining companion than Uluru when you’re outdoors enjoying the finest canapes, wine and bush tucker. This is one dinner you will never forget. But it doesn’t end there. As darkness falls, a star expert will help you locate the Southern Cross, Milky Way and Zodiac signs – which are on full display without competing artificial lights.
Valley of the Winds walk: This 3-hour walk demands a fair amount of energy, but you’ll be glad you persevered when you see the breathtaking views at the lookouts. During summer, it’s best to do this walk in the morning, when it isn’t as hot. Wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of drinking water, sunscreen and a hat.
#8. Uluru tours from Adelaide
Join a tour group or hire a private charter, to immerse yourself in this sacred destination. Reputable tour companies plan memorable activities, while also respecting the wishes of traditional custodians (such as not climbing Uluru).
It’s a win-win situation: you get to meet new people and absorb traditional culture, without having to plan any activities.
Why choose to experience the beauty of Uluru with Emu Run Experience?
We have multiple tour options to fit your travel plans – departing at different times from Alice Springs or Ayers Rock Resort Accommodation.
Our driver will pick you up from either location in an air-conditioned coach.
See the best of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and its surroundings with our accredited and passionate guides.
Hear ancient stories, go on guided walks and enjoy good tucker while Mother Earth puts on her finest show. All activities are safe for any age group and fitness level. Meals, beverages and snacks are provided – catering to a range of dietary requirements.