Alice Springs to Uluru

(travel guide & tours)

null

About Uluru (previously called “Ayers rock”)

Uluru is the most famous rock in the world, and one of Australia’s most awe-inspiring landmarks – attracting visitors from all over. 

When you stand on sacred land and gaze upon the red monolith, you can’t help but feel connected to a power greater than yourself.

Uluru rose from the sea around 500 million years ago. Today it stands 348 metres tall – watching over the surrounding desert in the Northern Territory.  Astronauts can even see the sandstone rock from space! 

Uluru was known as “Ayers Rock” before 1993, but its name was officially changed as a sign of respect for the local Anangu people, who are traditional custodians of the land.

Uluru is part of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, and it’s not far from other natural attractions such as Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Kings Canyon and Mt Conner.

#1. How to get to Uluru from Alice Springs (options)

There are 3 main ways you can get form Alice Springs to Uluru

  1. Drive in your car
  2. Fly by plane
  3. Catch a bus (or luxury coach)
uluru by car bus or plane

#2. Alice Springs to Uluru distance

Hint: It’s too far to walk.

✈️ Air travel:

Alice Springs Airport (ASP) to Ayers Rock Airport (AYQ) in Connellan: 334 kilometres, 50 minutes

Costs start from around $540 for a one-way ticket and from around $800 for a round-trip, so this isn’t the most cost-effective option.

🚌 Alice Springs to Uluru by bus: 463 kilometres (6 hours and 45 minutes)

How the journey progresses via a typical bus service (not ideal):

  1. Bus from Alice Springs to Erldunda: 2 hour trip, costs between $30 and $60
  2. Taxi from Erldunda to nearby bus station: 5 minute trip, costs between $12 and $16
  3. Second bus from Erlduna to Yulara: 3 hour trip
  4. Taxi from Yulara to Uluru: 20 minute trip, costs between $45 and $60

Alternatively, you can book a luxury coach service from any number of providers. This also includes a guided tour of the area, costing around $180 for adults and $90 for children. 

Emu Run also operates fast and reliable airport shuttle services in air-conditioned coaches, with prices starting from $19. This service is included for customers embarking on our tours. 

🚗 Alice Springs to Uluru by car:

467.8 km via Stuart Highway/A87 and State Route 4 (4 hours and 53 minutes

We offer airport transfers, but some travellers also enjoy booking a car.

There are a number of car hire providers, such as Thrifty, Hertz, and Avis

#3. Driving from Alice Springs to Uluru

450 km, 5 hours and 30 minutes

It takes around 5 hours to drive to Uluru, but we suggest you take your time and really appreciate the views and destinations along the way. Sometimes this is easier said than done, especially when there’s an impatient passenger in the car!

Resist their pressure and take a couple of pit stops, at minimum.

After all, how often do you get to explore the open plains and rich heritage of Australia’s red heart? This journey is almost as good as the destination!

There are also safety considerations: it’s so crucial to stop and rest every two hours, for at least fifteen minutes. This stops you from getting fatigued and could save your life.

Before you embark on your journey:

Make sure your car is in good condition with a full oil tank and freshly pumped tires (always keep a spare in your trunk). If anything malfunctions along the way, it could be a long walk back.

This may seem like overkill for a road trip that doesn’t take longer than a day, but it doesn’t hurt to pack a First Aid Kit and flashlight with spare batteries, in case something goes wrong while you’re on the road.

Petrol costs:

Expect to pay around $75 for petrol each way, but this could be higher depending on fuel requirements for your particular vehicle. Check out this fuel calculator for a general estimate.

Look out for animals on the road:

Plan to travel during daylight hours, when there are fewer kangaroos, cattle, camels and other animals on the road. Regardless of what time you drive, be careful not to accidentally hit large animals, as this could be fatal for everyone involved.

Three different routes you can take:

  • Sealed roads via the Stuart and Lasseter Highways – this is the fastest way and you don’t need a 4WD.
  • Partially sealed roads via The Red Centre Way – this is best suited for four-wheel drives.
  • Unsealed roads via The Ernest Giles and Luritja Roads – only suitable if you’re driving a 4WD. Don’t attempt this with a standard two-wheel vehicle, unless you want your car to get bogged.

#4. Alice Springs to Uluru itinerary when driving

Here are some destinations you can visit on your way to Uluru – some are right along your path and others require a short detour.

Hot Air Ballooning in Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Enjoy a bird’s eye view of the West MacDonnell Ranges from a hot air balloon. You’ll slowly drift over the desert with the rising sun, taking in the full spectrum of colour as the rugged plains come alive with kangaroos, dingoes, wallabies and other native wildlife. Hot air balloon companies include Outback Ballooning, RedBalloon, and Spinifex Ballooning.

Owen Springs Reserve, Northern Territory

Distance from Alice Springs to Owen Springs Reserve: 74 km (56 minutes)

Camping, birdwatching and swimming in waterholes – what’s not to love about this paradise that’s far removed from civilisation? Owens Springs Reserve used to be a cattle ranch, but opened to visitors in 2003 after the Northern Territory government purchased the land.

If you’re planning to drive through the reserve, you need a high-clearance 4WD (engaged in 4WD mode) as parts of the track are challenging and a normal car could get trapped.

Be mindful there are no facilities on the land, you should bring plenty of drinking water and snacks.

Watarrka National Park, Northern Territory

Distance from Owens Springs Reserve to Watarrka National Park: 244 km (2 hours 30 minutes)

Watarrka National Park is one of the outback’s best kept secrets, located between Alice Springs and Uluru. Stretch your legs by walking among the towering sandstone gorges that provide sanctuary to native wildlife big and small – including 60 rare plant species! There are permanent water holes to appreciate too.

Two-wheel drive vehicles can enter the park via sealed roads on the Stuart and Lasseter highways. However, a 4WD is recommended for other routes.

There are plenty of facilities, such as picnic areas, drinking water, wheelchair access and public toilets.

Accommodation:

If you’re looking for somewhere to rest your head for the night, be aware that camping isn’t permitted in the National Park (if you arrange this yourself). But you can’t go wrong by staying at Kings Creek Station, which has approved camping, bush tent and luxury tent options. Give their famous camel burgers a try too!

There’s also camping, caravanning, glamping, and lodging at Kings Canyon Resort – where you’ll get to watch a movie under the luminous desert stars.

Mount Conner Lookout, Northern Territory

Distance from Watarrka National Park to Mount Conner: 204 km (2 hours and 18 minutes)

Meet Mount Conner, Uluru’s smaller (but no less impressive) cousin. It’s as ancient as Uluru, and connected to the same rock formation beneath the ground. But that’s where the similarities end. Mount Conner looks like a horseshoe, with a flat (not round) top.

Visitors approaching from the Lasseter Highway often think they’ve reached their final destination – until the differences become obvious. Consider Mount Conner a taste of the wonder to come, as you view the monolith from a distance and continue on your way.

Uluru, Northern Territory

Distance from Mount Conner to Uluru: 147 km (1 hour and 50 minutes)

You’ll never forget the first moment you see Uluru on the horizon, and that sense of reverence grows as you draw closer.

Before exploring the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in all its glory, you probably want to put your feet up and enjoy some good tucker.

There are a range of accommodation and dining options, and naturally, those closer to the rock tend to be more expensive.

Ayers Rock Resort is a popular choice for many, considering it’s only 20 minutes away from Uluru. Choose from a selection of lodging experiences, depending on your preferences and budget. The food is good everywhere!

#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:

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre:

You may feel slightly overwhelmed because there’s so much that you want to do, but don’t know where to start. First visit the Cultural Centre, where there’s a wealth of information that will help you plan your adventures. It’s also a good way to support the local Anangu community! Set aside a few hours to explore the Cultural Centre properly.

Sounds of Silence:

Imagine savouring the most delicious canapes, bush tucker and wine with Uluru as your companion for dinner. When darkness falls, a blanket of stars will illuminate the sky like nothing you’ve seen before. There’s no competing light sources from any cities, because your location is so remote. Not many people get to experience this, so seize the moment!

Dot painting workshop:

Local Anangu artists will help you to create a traditional artwork that you will be proud to display when you return home. There’s a special rate for families, but children need to be at least five years old.

#8. Uluru tours from Alice Springs

You can definitely explore the magic of Uluru independently, but it’s usually more fun to join a tour (like this one departing from Alice Springs) – especially if you feel stressed when planning travel activities!

Tour companies handle all the planning, while organising activities that resonate with people from all walks of life. Professional guides also teach you so much about local Anangu culture and expectations – so you don’t inadvertently disrespect sacred sites.

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 a guided walk to the Waterhole and enjoy good food while the sun sets over Uluru. All activities are safe for any age group and fitness level. Meals, beverages and snacks are provided – catering to a range of dietary requirements.

Tour options:

Top Rated Uluru Tours

Looking for tour recommendations? We’ve got you covered

Menu