My husband and I are on an around the world trip and are currently in Sydney.
We are on a budget but would like to go to Uluru (end of Aug/beginning Sept '08). Flying direct from Sydney is proving to be a bit over our budget! So we are thinking of getting a cheap return Jetstar flight from Sydney to Adelaide and hiring a car from Adelaide to Alice Springs.
We found that it might actually work out cheaper to hire a car from Adelaide instead of taking the train from Adelaide to Alice Springs and then hiring a car from Alice Springs. It seems that if you hire a car from Alice Springs (to see Uluru and Kings Canyon) the daily rate is expensive and kilometres are limited.
My questions are:
- Is it safe to drive from Adelaide to Alice Springs?
- Is a compact/economy car ok for Adelaide to Alice Springs to Kings Canyon to Uluru to Alice Springs? Are the roads paved?
- Is a week enough to see Alice Springs, Kings Canyon and Uluru?
- Can anyone recommend any budget places to stop for the night along the way?
- Is hiring a car generally the best way to go, since we've heard that a lot of tours are often rushed?
Any other suggestions or advice would be appreciated!
Thanks very much!
- It is perfectly safe to drive to Alice and Uluru, but avoid driving before sunrise or after sunset, or drive much more slowly. I drove for an hour after dark and only drove 60 km/hour or so.
- A normal car is ok, all roads to Alice, Uluru and Kings Canyon are paved and I had no problems with the Ford Falcon I had, which was pretty close to the ground
- As you mentioned you will be delivering the car back in Adelaide, I don't think a week would be enough. It is 2 days from Adelaide to Alice. Alice to Uluru is about 4/5 hours. Kings Canyon via the paved roads is about 5 hours as well from Alice. So you need 3-4 days from Adelaide and getting back. Possible but I wouldn't visit Alice in that case, just spend all your night in Curtin Springs (see below). Alice is only ok, when basing yourself to explore the West and East MacDonell Ranges. Beautiful and recommended.
- A great place to spend while exploring Uluru and Kings Canyon is Curtin Springs. I spend 4 or 5 night there and did day trips to Uluru and Kings Canyon. Camping is free and the small cabins are much cheaper than near Uluru or Kings Canyon. And you don't need to move to places as it's about in the middle, although Kings Canyon is about 1,5 hours away.
After sunset near Uluru this was the drive in the dark back to Curtin Springs. But just drive 60-65 and you will be fine! It is not that far.
- I'll definately recommend hiring a car for most places in Oz, as it's easy to drive and most places you can reach by paved road. No need to book a tour, also as you are with 2 it probably won't be cheaper at all.
Thanks for your advice Michael. We have managed to find some relatively inexpensive flights to Alice Springs from Sydney so will be flying there instead of taking the train from Adelaide. We arrive at Alice Springs on the Monday and depart on the following Sunday. We plan to stay overnight in Alice Springs and Curtin Springs - from there we'll do Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Kings Canyon.
It now turns out that my parents who also happen to be in Australia at the moment will come with us. We'll be hiring a car from Alice Springs. Since we won't be walking for long periods with my parents, I just wondered if anyone can recommmend any good lookout spots or short walks at Kings Canyon and West MacDonnell Ranges as well as Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park?
I realise the distances between the parks are large I just wondered if it is possible to drive within the parks themselves.
Thanks very much!
There are numerous short walks you can do in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, you can check out the government website for more info and maps here. You can drive almost all the way up to both Uluru and Kata Tjuta and lookouts are marked along the way.
At Kings Canyon, you can do the short walk that goes into the canyon, but the long walk around the top of the canyon is much more spectacular. The government website with more info is here. Again, you can drive almost all the way in to the canyon.
Not much to add here. Maybe only the walk around Uluru which is not short (about 2 hours) but is entirely flat and if you start early and it is not too hot, I am sure any person can walk this route. I liked it very much. Otherwise park your car in front of Uluru and just walk for 15 minutes or so, just to get away a bit from the crowds going up Uluru....man, did I hate that to see. There are numerous signs which say you can't photograph Uluru from certain points as it is a sacred place, but the thing that the Aboriginals hate most is people climbing up Uluru...and that's allowed. All for the money of course.