Sydney to Uluru

(travel guide & tours)

About Uluru (previously called “Ayers rock”)

Uluru rose from the ocean more than five centuries ago to tower over the surrounding desert.

The local Anangu people say that Ancestor Spirits created the natural rock during the Dreaming, along with surrounding waterholes and springs.

Fast forward to the present and sacred ceremonies are still held in the caves of this celebrated landmark. 

Over the years, hundreds of thousands of global visitors have trekked through rocky formations, gazed at the stars and learnt about the culture of the local Anangu people.

Tourists used to climb Uluru rock, but this was banned in 2019 to honour the wishes of the traditional custodians.

#1. How to get to Uluru from Sydney (options)

There are 3 main ways you can get form Sydney to Uluru

  1. Fly by plane
  2. Road trip in your car
  3. Train and bus combination through Melbourne and Adelaide
  4. Train and bus combination through Adelaide
  5. Bus and taxi
MELBOUNRE TO ULURU travel options

#2. Sydney to Uluru distance

Hint: It’s too far to walk.

✈️ Air travel:

Sydney Airport to Alice Springs Airport by plane: 2,027 kilometres, 3 hours

Sydney Airport to Ayers Rock Airport (AYQ) by plane: 2,180 kilometres, 3 hours and 20 minutes 

Now that you’ve landed in the Northern Territory, how long does it take to drive to Uluru?

🚌 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 to Uluru by car: 467.8 km via Stuart Highway/A87 and State Route 4 (4 hours and 53 minutes)

🚗 Driving from Sydney to Uluru:

Sydney to Uluru by car: 2838 km (29 hours)

🚆 Train:

Sydney to Melbourne via XPT: 11 hours

Melbourne to Adelaide via the Overland: 737km (10 hours 25 minutes)

Adelaide to Uluru via The Ghan: 1600 km (17 hours)

#3. Driving from Sydney to Uluru

2,838 km, 29 hours (roughly 4 days of driving)

It takes three to four days to drive from Sydney to Uluru, depending on how many breaks you take to rest and enjoy the sights.

Since you’re going to all this effort, you may as well have a road trip you won’t forget. Why not stretch out the journey and enjoy some of the destinations along the way?

Before you set out, make sure your car is in good condition and filled with handy supplies like drinking water and a thermos of coffee (don’t forget the snacks)! 

The quickest route between Sydney and Uluru is on a road that’s completely sealed, so you don’t need a 4WD. 

Expect to pay between $350 and $530 each way, but this could be higher depending on fuel requirements for your particular vehicle. Note: this estimate doesn’t include toll costs. Check out this fuel calculator for a general estimate. 

To stay safe on the road, please take breaks every 8 to 10 hours, or sooner if you’re feeling tired!

#4. Sydney to Uluru itinerary when driving

Here are some destinations you can visit on your way to Uluru. This is just a sample, we can’t touch on all the wonderful options as there are so many!

Blue Mountains in Katoomba, New South Wales

Distance from Sydney to the Blue Mountains in Katoomba: 62 km (1 hour)

Ok, you probably haven’t been driving for long enough to justify a break, but who can resist stepping out of the car to absorb the stunning valley views? The Three Sisters is a spectacular natural formation that awes locals and tourists alike.

Echo Point look-out provides the best vantage point for the star attraction of this World Heritage Area. And there’s no better place for a gentle stroll than the Jenolan River Walking Track. Bring your swimmers and take a dip in one of the waterholes, if the weather is warm!

Dubbo in New South Wales

Distance from Katoomba to Dubbo: 280 km (3 hours and 30 minutes)

Please don’t drive past Dubbo without spending some time at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo

You’ll be forgiven for wondering if you’re in Africa when you see the rhinos, elephants and other exotic animals. Visitors can even explore the “plains” from the comfort of their own car, as though on Safari! It’s also possible to hire a standard bike or electric cart to get around.

Accommodation: There’s no need to stray too far from your four-legged companions to get a little shut-eye, you can actually stay overnight at the zoo. The Savannah self-contained cabins are comfortable and stylish, with sprawling views of the grasslands.

There’s also an option to camp under the stars, after enjoying an Aussie barbecue that’s included in the package. Billabong Camp is near the Lion Pride Lands, but not too close. Imagine falling asleep to the sound of roaring lions? It’s what dreams (or nightmares) are made of!

White Cliffs in New South Wales

Distance from Dubbo to White Cliffs: 650 km (6 hours and 44 minutes)

There will be zero doubt you’re in the outback when you pull into this small, remote town surrounded by red, dusty sand. This is where gem lovers come to find opals. Who knows, you might get lucky too? It’s actually one of the only places in the world that has white opal. The population is small, and many people live underground to escape the summer heat.

Accommodation: White Cliffs Hotel provides clean and comfortable rooms, for a peaceful night’s sleep after all that driving. You can get a hearty meal for lunch or dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, to appreciate a true outback experience.

Port Augusta in South Australia

Distance from White Cliffs to Port Augusta: 650 km (7 hours)

Your brain is probably craving some stimulation after so much driving. It’s a good thing the award-winning Wadlata Outback Centre is on the way to your final destination. Find out about the rich heritage of the region, dating all the way back to the dinosaurs. The hand-on exhibits entertain adults and children alike! 

To continue the theme of award-winning venues on this day, you can’t go past the Standpipe restaurant for traditional Indian cuisine. The food is sensational and there are so many options on the menu. Portion sizes are decent too! There’s nothing better than a satisfying meal after a long day enjoying all that Port August has to offer.

Coober Pedy, South Australia

Distance from Port Augusta to Coober Pedy: 557 km (6 hours)

Take a moment to inhale the golden tones of the sweeping plains outside your window.

When you visit the Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park, you’ll actually be standing on land that used to be covered by sea. Truly remarkable! It’s worth getting a tour, to understand the history of the park, which is co-managed by the Antakirinja Matuntjara Yunkunytjatjara people

If you get the timing just right, this ancient land puts on its best show at sunset or sunrise.

Accommodation: How often do you get to sleep underground – in comfortable and spacious lodgings, no less? Take this opportunity to experience the unique lodgings of so many Coober Pedy locals. You’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into another world at the rustic and memorable Comfort Inn.

Uluru, Northern Territory

Distance from Coober Pedy to Uluru: 756 km (7 hours and 48 minutes)

Your legs may feel stiff after so much driving, but you’ll know it’s been worth it the moment you set eyes on the majestic rock that brings the desert to life. It’s been a wonderful experience getting to this point, and you’ve learnt so much along the way, but now the real adventure begins. There are many excellent accommodation options to help you regain your energy, such as the luxury Sails in the Desert.

#5. Sydney to Uluru flight time

There are two options. You can fly from Sydney to Ayers Rock Airport, or from Sydney to Alice Springs Airport.

  • Direct flight from Sydney to Ayers Rock Airport (AYQ): 3 hours and 20 minutes, costs range between $140 to $850.
  • Direct flight from Sydney to Alice Springs Airport (ASP):3 hours direct or 6 hours with a stopover in Brisbane. Prices range from $270 to $650.

After you land in the Northern Territory, you’ll need to hire a car or use an airport transfer service to get to Uluru.

If you want to spend less time on the road, your best option is to get a direct flight to Ayers Rock Airport, which is a short 30-minute drive to Uluru. It takes 5 hours to drive from Alice Springs to Uluru.

#6. Sydney to Uluru via train and bus (through Melbourne and Adelaide)

How the journey progresses:

  1. Train from Sydney Central Station to Southern Cross station in Melbourne: 11 hour trip, costs between $75 and $250
  2. Train from Southern Cross to Adelaide: 10 hour trip, costs between $79 and $150
  3. Bus from Adelaide to Erldunda: 19 hour trip, costs between $180 and $350
  4. Taxi to nearby bus station in Erldunda: 5 minute trip, costs between $12 and $16
  5. Bus from Erldunda to Yulara: 20 minute trip, costs between $45 and $60

#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:

Helicopter flight over Uluru:

It doesn’t get more magical than flying over the sacred rock as a blanket of orange and red lights up the sky with the rising sun. As long as you’re not afraid of heights, strap yourself in and enjoy a 36-minute flight like no other. 

Field of Light: 

Feast your eyes on a garden of light that illuminates the desert as darkness sets in. This man-made display is a globally-celebrated masterpiece, and it stretches over an area bigger than four football fields.

Valley of the Winds walk: 

Put on your most comfortable joggers before embarking on this 3-hour walk that takes you to multiple lookouts with stunning views of the surrounding desert. Don’t forget to bring your sunscreen, hat and plenty of water to quench your thirst in the scorching heat.

The Uluru Cultural Centre:

It’s helpful to visit the centre first, as this is where you’ll learn so much about the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Anangu culture. There’s traditional art to appreciate, and you can even hire a bike to ride around Uluru. Make sure you ask to see the unique paper that’s made from local wallaby poo! You won’t be disappointed.

#8. Uluru tours from Sydney

You’re free to explore the wonders of Uluru independently, but why not join a tour or hire a private charter instead? This removes any stress around planning. The tour company plans memorable activities that resonate with people of all ages.

Let the experts show you around. They’ll also teach you about local Anangu culture and expectations – so you don’t accidentally disrespect sacred sites and the traditional custodians of land.

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 your dining companion 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:


Experience the real highlights of Central Australia in air-conditioned comfort.