One of my friends from back home unexpectedly flew over, and we're thinking about taking a trip to Uluru for a few days. I'm currently thinking that the best way to do this would be to fly over straight to Ayers Rock airport (from Melbourne, where we're located now), rent a car there, and thus take care of our own transport to Yulara (the resort), Uluru and the Olgas for the next two days. Distances look to be such that the silly kilometer restrictions that seem to exist here won't bother us overly much.
Any feedback from people who've done this? I'm definitely interested in "must do" things here of course, but mostly want to know if this seems like a good plan, or if anyone would recommend taking a tour (?) or some alternative solution for transport instead. (I know there are a number of packaged tours aimed at backpackers going from Alice Springs, but given that there's an airport at Ayers Rock itself, the nearly two days lost in travel from there seem like a complete loss...)
Any idea of temperature in Uluru this time of year? Recommendations for car rental beyond the big companies? Anything else essential that you can think of? (I haven't even gone looking in my lonely planet yet - this is all very spur of the moment...)
Hey Sander, I was at Uluru in May a couple of years ago and slept outside for most of the night. It got really cold though once my sleeping bag got covered in dew so I ended up in the tent at about 3 in the morning which was a definite improvement (it was under zero Celcius outside although I can't exactly remember how much). It's actually a pretty good time to visit though, since if you do decide to climb the rock (a whole other discussion...), then you stand less chance of a heat stroke and you can start your climb much later in the morning than in the summer.
It is a long drive from Alice and if you can avoid it and not spend too much money by flying to Ayers Rock airport directly, I'd do that. I would also consider a tour guided by one of the local aboriginal guides. I recently stumbled on this aboriginal tour website which might be of some help. They'll be able to give you a totally different insight into the area and the importance to the aboriginal community that it has.
Personally I wasn't that impressed with the Olga's but Kings Canyon is spectacular!
i'm fairly sure that virgin blue, one of Australia's low cost airlines doesn't even fly to ayers rock, they only fly to alice springs. so price may become a bit of an issue, but it may work out cheaper to fly than to hire a car anyway. good luck with what you decide
ps. for other flights look at qantas and jetstar