How to see Uluru on a Budget

How to see Uluru on a Budget

Australia is a backpackers dream destination.  Whether you are on a gap year, working holiday or looking to experience life in another country – Australia is high on most people’s bucket lists and has many iconic and unique attractions. We’ve met many travellers who have done some of the big sights: Sydney Harbour, Great Barrier Reef and a small few even make it to Uluru (Ayers Rock)
None of these, especially Uluru would really be considered ‘budget’ destinations. But there are ways that savvy travellers are keeping their costs down and we are going to let you in on a few today:

Here’s our Top 3 Ways to Spend Less at Uluru:

uluru ayers rock australia
Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Outback Australia

1. Find the budget accommodation – it does exist!

To see Uluru on a budget the cheapest option is to camp. Now, you can’t actually camp at Uluru itself so please don’t try that! At the small town run by Voyages, not far from the actual rock, there are several hotels ranging in mostly 4* and 5* ratings, and price tags to match. But – nestled towards the back, there is a less publicized and much cheaper option. The Ayres Rock Camp ground. 
 Here you can choose from non powered and powered camp sites, or even some very cute cabins. All vary in price depending on what you choose and what time of year you travel.
camp site uluru on a budget
Camping is the cheapest way to stay near Ayers Rock
Shower blocks are shared but are kept very clean. There’s also free BBQ facilities. There’s even a wifi kiosk – but unless you’re desperate to post your latest selfie to Instagram it probably isn’t worth the time or money.
The best news is that there’s even a pool to keep you cool on a stinking hot day in the Australian desert – but you’ll have to put up with getting splashed by the kids camping with their families.
If camping isn’t really your thing and you prefer a real bed and perhaps some air-conditioning but still want to see Uluru on a budget then the backpacker lodge has dorm beds for $38 a night all year round.
Uluru Sunset - Ayers Rock, Red Center, Australia
Sunset over the mighty red Ayers Rock

2. Cook Your Own Food

If you didn’t know this already – Australia is the land of the BBQ. In fact it’s quite common to find free gas barbies (as we like to call them for short) all over Australia. And as mentioned before, the camp site is no exception.
In the communal outdoor kitchen area you will find not only a BBQ, but a microwave to nuke up some cheap store bought mac n cheese. However we don’t know if we just arrived after someone had rudely failed to clean the hot plate after their feast of charcoaled meat, or if they are always in a bit of a state of filth. You’ve been warned!
Surprisingly the local noodle and pizza shops weren’t outrageously expensive, for being in the middle of nowhere. Also the IGA convenience store was reasonably priced for its location as well. But if you really want to save some money then a few store bought snags (that’s Australian for sausages) on the barbie wrapped up in a piece of bread is the best and cheapest meal available.
aussie BBQ
An aussie BBQ is a cheap and tasty way to eat on a budget

 3.  Go in the off season

Being in the middle of the desert, it can get pretty hot at Uluru. The best time of year to visit is between April to October – Australia’s winter months. Sadly this will also mean that you will pay a lot more for your stay. 
If you want to see Uluru on a budget then it’s good to know that between the months of November to March prices are drastically reduced. And you can save  yourself quite a lot of money. But be warned – in the summer months temperatures are normally around 30-  35 degrees celsius, but have been known to get as high as  45 degrees. The swarming of flies at this time of year are  also known to be almost unbearable. Camping in those  conditions won’t be fun.
climbing ayers rock uluru
Climbing Ayers Rock
 But hey if you like the heat and your not planning on  completing the long, steep climb to the top of Uluru,  then you shouldn’t have too much trouble going out of  season.

It is best to know in advance, that in cases of extreme     heat, due to health and safety regulations, the rock  will  possibly not be open to climb. There is no way to  send  immediate help to anyone who collapses on the  rock, so  its out of bounds to everyone. This is also true  if it  happens to rain, as the rock becomes extremely  slippery,  or in high wind conditions.

  Actually, as visitors to the area, you are requested  not to climb the rock as it is a sacred landmark   to the local aboriginal people.
 However if you wish to climb it, no one will stop you –  apart from the weather.

More Money Saving Tips

If you are arriving by air, there is  a complimentary shuttle bus from the airport to Voyages (everything at Ayres Rock is owned by this company). And they will get you back again in time for your flight. Make sure you pay close attention to your return pick up time as they don’t wait around for long. Once you are settled in at the campsite there is also a shuttle bus that will run you around the voyages community. You may need this to head off to one of the restaurants, or to grab a beer at the bar. It is also very easy to walk.

Entrance to the park is only $25 AUD for a three day pass. I don’t think there is a single attraction in Australia that is that cheap. But you do need to find transport out there. This may mean hiring a car or joining a tour. There is plenty to do in the national park once you are there. There is a cultural centre that explains the history of the area. Walking around the rock which takes 3 1/2 hours to complete. Or the climb itself which takes about 2 hours. This depends on your fitness and how long you spend at the top. It is recommended that if you are not in a good state of physical fitness that you don’t attempt the climb – so far over 40 people have not made it back down, after tragically suffering heart attacks.

Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) - Northern Territories - Australia
Uluru is a massive, scared rock in the middle of the remote and harsh Australia Outback and a must see when in Oz.
 Note: The area around Uluru has been declared a dry zone. This means that no alcohol is allowed outside of the Voyages precinct and you certainly cannot share your beer with any locals. You may have to provide evidence of your staying in Voyages to get served.
As we said in the beginning – Uluru is not going to ever be a budget travel destination. It’s a big old rock in the middle of nowhere, that’s kinda hard to get to.

But that big old rock is amazing and one of the must sees of Australia.

It’s history, the aboriginal dreamtime stories, the geological information is all so fascinating. Then there is the rock itself, which is more magnificent and awe-inspiring than you could ever imagine.
There’s no doubting why it’s often a finalist for the 7 Wonders of the Natural World.
Check out Five Dollar Traveller’s video on how we did Uluru on a Budget.

Megan from Five Dollar Traveller
Megan from Five Dollar Traveller
This was a guest post kindly brought to you by Megan Collins, a chief editor of the Five Dollar Traveller website & author of Budget Burma: A comprehensive budget travel guide for Myanmar. 
While digesting her frequent food babies, Megsy blogs about tasty bites, booze, travel and whatever random topics pop into her head along the way! 
Follow Megsy on Facebook, Pinterest or Google+

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