Alice Springs - Ayers Rock (Uluru)
via Stuart (Hwy 87) and Lassister Highways (Hwy 4)
Total distance 452km)
All distances measured from Alice Springs
Many people mistakenly believe that Ayers Rock is near Alice Springs and can be ëdoneí on a day trip from there. Although some tour operators do in fact run day trips to the ëRockí they are extremely long days with distances of around 1,000km for the round trip.
A far better option is to stay at the campground at Yulara for one or two nights even though itís one of the most expensive in Australia and facilities only average. This allows time to watch the sunset if the the weather is nice - and it usually is. It also allows for time at the Olgas (Kata Tjuta).
Leaving Alice Springs heading south through the Heavytree Gap on the Stuart Highway (Hwy 87) you go past the turnoff for the National Transport Hall of Fame (check name) on the right. While in ëThe Aliceí this is well worth a visit. The highway turns right at the road to the Alice Springs Airport and continues through typically red Central Australian landscape. It crosses the normally dry Hugh River at the Stuarts Well Roadhouse (145km) and then, just after crosssing the equally dry Finke River, comes to the Ernest Giles road on the right (130km) that would take you to the Henbury Meteorite Craters Conservation Reserve where a self-guided walk takes you around the site where meteorites hitting the earth made their huge craters thousands of years ago.
Just a little further south we come to Erldunda (199km) and a large well appointed roadhouse with a caravan park attached. This is the junction with the Lassiter Highway (Hwy 4) and we turn westwards on it.
Again we continue through typical Central Australian landscape with red sand dunes and desert vegetation. After good rains the area can give the lie to the expression ëThe Dead Heartí and can be alive with masses of windflowers and flowering shrubs.
There are two roadhouses along this stretch - Mount Ebenezer and Curtain Springs with the turnoff to Kings Canyon via Luritja Road coming betwseen the two at 310km. If you have plenty of time, a visit to the canyon is a great experience and gives excellent photo opportunities for those fit enough to climb to the canyon rim. There is a caravan park at the Kings Canyon Resort and another a little less expensive on the way in at Kings Creek Station Camping Ground - the canyon is about half-way between the two.
Donít confuse the great view of flat-topped Mount Connor on the right with Ayers Rock - it looks a bit like it at first sighting but there is still a little way to go to the ërealí rock!
Our journey will probably end when we reach the campground at Yulara (444km) although there are a few more km to go to get to Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta).
The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is managed by the original owners and you have to purchase a three-day pass to enter the area. Climbing the Rock is discouraged by the local indigenous people although many fit tourists still decide to do the climb.