Uluru is timeless.
It has seen the sun rise and set since The Ancestors of the Anangu emerged and travelled across the land creating one of the greatest features of the Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime.
From the moment the first faint rays of light strike the warm red rock, you will be mesmerised by the changing colour palette painted by the sun as it marches through the sky. Even at a distance and the height of midday, the rock can be hypnotic as the heat waves drift skyward, bending the blue air above the giant monolith.
Then, as the golden orb sinks into the west, prepare to be spellbound as the colour doesn’t fade, but intensifies for an evening show that finishes with the star-studded curtain of nighttime falling to leave the silent silhouette of Uluru watching over the desert.
Uluru may be timeless, but there is a “best” time of day to see and do things, and a “best” time of year to visit… April to October has chilly nights but more comfortable daytime temperatures, and the weather is dry so most of the hiking trails will be open for maximum exploration opportunities.
Sunrise over Uluru
Make the effort to struggle out of bed early for at least one sleepy-eyed sunrise over Uluru. You won’t regret it. Get up with the alarm and grab that coffee before settling in for an unforgettable morning view.
As the night sky begins to lighten, and the first rays hit the red sandstone, it’s almost as if the dawn holds its breath in anticipation. That still silence as the sun begins to rise, before the breeze springs up and the birds loudly celebrate another day in The Red Centre.
The Rock reflects a rainbow of colours as the sun climbs higher… Definitely a great way to start the day!
Walk Around the Rock
The midday heat is still best avoided, even in the middle of a Northern Territory winter, and the best time of day to explore the sacred site of Uluru is early in the morning, or later in the afternoon.
Take plenty of water as you set off on the 10km hike around The Rock. Most people are surprised at the lush woodlands and waterholes they encounter enroute, along with the petroglyphs hidden in the caves and fissures of the rock – a record of the culture and history of the Anangu people.
Allow at least 4 hours to walk, and if you really want to soak in the culture and surrounds, maybe a little longer. It took us 3 hours to cycle around it with stops.
The show never ends, as the colours of The Rock continue to change with each passing hour of the day. Why not tag a walk onto sunrise or sunset?
Sunset at Uluru
Grab a champagne and get ready to toast one of nature’s most spectacular sights.
The warmth of the day starts to wane, but the colours in The Rock are only just beginning to heat up.
As the breeze whispers through the grass and the bright sky fades into the evening, the sinking rays of the sun bring out the best in nature. The dull deep red of the day begins to glow and intensify as the last rays illuminate the monolith sleeping silently in the half-lit desert landscape.
You will want to do this more than once!
- Yulara Campground is the closest to Uluru, so less time to travel for a sunrise over The Rock.
- If Yulara campground is crowded, ask about the “overflow campground” as it rarely books out.
- Kata Tjuta is also a great place to see the sun set.
- Don’t think that Uluru is not worth visiting just because you can’t climb it – The natural beauty, along with the unique culture and story of this place really enhance the experience.
- As always, don’t forget plenty of water, sun and insect protection… and good quality lightweight hiking shoes.
The desert can be unforgiving, which is why it is so important to plan for the best time to visit. The harsh climate can make or break the experience. Heading to Uluru in the cooler months of the year will avoid the searing heat of summer and sometimes unpredictable weather. To see one of the world’s largest monoliths as it stands guard over the Red Centre of Australia is for many, a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
To see the sunrise, to feel the magic of this sacred place hidden in it’s caves and crevices, and to bask in a sunset as it illumintes the red rock is something you will never forget.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park really is a “bucket list” destination, and once you’ve been, you will understand why.
How many days do you need in Uluru?
Although Uluru is the celebrity of the show, there is so much more to see and do in The Red Centre, so you will need a minimum of a couple of days at Uluru itself (for at least one sunrise and two sunsets), along with a few extra days to take in Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.
What is the best time of year to visit Ayers Rock?
Ayers Rock, now known as Uluru, is literally in the middle of the desert, so climate and temperatures can be extreme. Daytime temperatures are more consistently warm from April through to October (Autumn/Winter/Spring), without being too hot. However, bear in mind that nights will be coldest during the Winter months, and tourist numbers are likely to be less during April and October as the days will be getting a little hotter.
Is Uluru expensive to visit?
Uluru is remote, so it is quite an expensive destination. However, if you explore independently and skip the hotel accommodation in favour of the campground, along with shopping for your own groceries, then the costs will reduce substantially.