Im hoping to make it to the rock this summer (oz winter). I've noticed a lot of the tours are pretty expensive for what they are. I mean surely you do not need a guide to look at a giant rock. However, I would love to camp in the outback. Can you do this someplace close to the rock without a tour. And can you get from Alice springs to uluru on a public bus or something? And as well as that, I want to go from sydney to the uluru and then on to brisbane.
The Uluru tours are pretty expensive but I would say they're worth it. On the tour I did we also got to see The Olgas and Kings Canyon which were well worth seeing, and as well as that the trip itself was a lot of fun and I'm definitely glad I saw it with a group of twenty people rather than just with a couple of people.
I did the trip to Uluru with a tour and it was great despite having to start at 6am. We had two guides who kept us entertained enroute[it's a five hour bus trip from Alice Springs. You can get hotels near the rock but they are supposed to be very expensive, there are campgrounds also but no idea what they cost] As for the day itself they took care of us very well, they had loads of aborginal lore about the rock, details of various formations and at the end of the day, a barbecue at the sunset viewing area where you can watch the rock change colour as the sun sets. The trip we had was with Emu Run Tours and we booked through a New Zealand travel agent. A google search for camping at Uluru might find you something closer and or better. Enjoy!
Public bus to Uluru is probably not what you want, if you can get one at all (it's in the middle of the desert - think there are limited transfers by private companies but they'd be well over $100 per person).
I did this Tour with Mulga's adventures in April 06. Fantastic trip. 3 days, Uluru, Kings Canon & Olgas. Cheap as you will find - about $275 AU meals, accom, park fees & transport included. Slept under the stars in a swag in the middle of the bush. Would definately recommend so long as you can hadle roughing it a bit (Toliets & showers limited, meals cooked over campfire etc - definately not luxury but stax of fun) Runs out of the "Annie's Place" hostel in Alice. They advertise by web and word of mouth so you won't likely find the trip in a brochure.
If you're interested website is
Be warned everything in central Oz is very remote and you will spend lot of time travelling. Most people either drive (plan ahead, take plenty of water and fuel) or catch a tour. Honestly for the equipment you'll need and the hassle factor of doing it yourslef take a tour, it probably won't cost you much extra so long as you take the right one.
Just got back from there today (2 hrs ago) WOW!! Pretty cool and worth going, but it is expensive. Bottle of water will cost you $4.00, most meals at the hotels are $20-40...
I ritzed it, but you can do it cheap. Be warned that they close the climb of the rock almost all the time for all kinds of reasons (rain, wind, heat..) Cheapest place to stay is the campground, but check out voyages.com.au. They own all the resorts there, so you can access all the different places to stay...some cool specials too.
Campground is the cheapest, Outback Pioneer has the best atmosphere, backpacker style with a variety of accomodation. Best place to eat..well depends on the budget. Sounds of Silence dinner set out in the desert is cool ($145)...wank factor, go for the experience not the food. Sails has a good restaurant 'Kanilya'...most plates are $50....
Outback Pioneer has a char grill, $24.95 all you can eat salad buffet with a choice of steak, barramundi, croc, kangaroo...not bad value. There is also a takeaway kitchen there, burgers with the lot for $7.50...okay but you wouldn't live on the stuff. Pizza, fish etc, its all there. There is a takeaway place in town which is also cheap. Also a supermarket with normal prices...if you wana cook.
I hired a car and drove myself, but it may not work for you...cool if you can team up with a fellow traveller...then worth it. Most of the tours do not include park access fee ($25-valid for 3 days). Hire car cost my all up $65/ day. I went to Uluru over two days, and Olgas (worth seeing!!) Plus, you get to do what you wana do, without the boring tour crap. You get a map of the place and it is real easy to navigate...after 20min, you'll be a local. Just watch your speed!!
See the sunset at ayers rock, very good. Camels to sunset tour is good fun ($95) includes a drink/nibbles..but is quite good fun- and they pick you up. The other tours....??? over $100-200 time wasting....plus you gota buy the $25 pass....Your call!
There is a free resort shuttle from the airport and around the entire town, so if you plan your tours in a couple of days you should be fine.