If you travel to Australia, you should really get through the hassle and see the Red Centre. It is a long way to drive, or fly, but in the end, itÂ´s only a couple of thousand kilometers, too easy.
If you travel to Ayers Rock, or Uluru, as it is really called, you will stay at the tourist resort of Yulara. It was once designed to cater all the tourists that want to visit the Rock. There is shops, restaurants, a campsite and hotel , all overpriced, but since there is no competition and no other place to go, this is where you have to stay.
Uluru is about 3km long and 2km wide. It is part of a giant sandstone formation, sitting in the middle of the Amadeus Basin in the Central Australian Desert. Together with the Olgas, or Kata Tjutas that are only a few kilometers away, it forms the Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park.
There are lots of legends and myths around the area and Uluru in particular. Uluru is a holy site for the Aboriginal people, and does not only more or less form the centre of Australia, but also the centre of the culture of Aboriginal people. It is said that all their dreamtime-stories lead to Uluru.
The resort of Yulara has an airport that serves all the main airports around Australia. The Lasseter Highway connects the centre with the Stuart Highway, that runs from north to south through the country. There is another road headed west, the Gunbarrel Highway, but to drive along that towards Perth you need to have enough gas, water and a reliable 4x4 vehicle. This road is not sealed and as remote as it can be...
If you do not travel with your own transport, there is as many tours around the rock as there is stars in the sky. They either leave out of Alice Springs or you get picked up from the airport at Yulara and arrange your own flights to and from there. Whichever way you choose to do it, you will certainly always be surrounded by lots of other tourists. I have joined a tour with Adventure Tours Australia once. It is fantastic, you camp out in swags by the fire or in tents, have barbecues or meals cooked in the fire and learn lots about the history and culture of the place.
There is a few walks that can be done in the National Park. The base walk around Uluru takes about 1 1/2 hours, or 10 km. It is possible to climb it, but as it is a sacred site for the Aboriginal people, they ask the tourists not to do so. It is up to you if you want to do it or not, but if you want to pay them respect, just stick to the base walk. The climb can be quite dangerous some days as well, as it gets very windy and sometimes slippery on the top.
The cultural centre nearby offers information, workshops, history and sells some gifts and crafts. It is worth a visit.
Many people do not even know the Olgas or Kata Tjutas before they travel to the center, but they might even be more attractive then one big round rock. The Valley of the Wind walk takes about 2 hours and leads you through some bizarre rock formations, past rock wallabies, budgies and other Kodak moments to be had.
Be sure not to miss out on a sunrise and sunset. There is special parking lot to sit in your car to see the sun rise and fall in the right angle, and since there are so many cars and buses heading the same way, you will not miss it.
On your way back to Alice Springs, you should take the side trip to Kings Canyon. Another hidden gem in the middle of the desert, this Great Canyon-like formation has got a great walk to offer and you can camp underneath an unforgettable starry sky. You will definitely be able to see the Southern Cross!