Sometimes before travelling abroad we want to make sure things are worth the high price we pay.
That’s especially true for exotic destinations like the Ayers Rock Resort.
The Ayers Rock Resort in Yulara is without a doubt one of the most exclusive and remote resort on Earth. In fact is the only existent accommodation complex nearby the mysterious and fascinating Australian monolite.
So how I am going to help you?
To write this post I put together all my photos, all the info from my guidebooks, all the leaflets I got there… and above all, I added all my memories and personal experience at Ayers Rock Resort. With the this guide you can’t go wrong.
In the first part of my Uluru Travel Guide I described how to plan your trip to Ayers Rock. In particular, I covered what is the best time to visit Uluru , how to get there , where to eat , what to do (tours and activities) and I addressed the concerns about climbing Ayers Rock .
Now it’s time to go more in depth describing the features of the awesome Ayers Rock Resort where I spent 3 fantastic days.
In particular I will focus on these points:
- Where is Yulara
- the Ayers Rock Airport
- How to get around
- the Outback Pioneer Lodge
- Communal facilities
- the Town Square
Ayers Rock Resort | Where is Yulara?
The Ayers Rock Resort is located in Yulara, less than 20km (18 mi) away from Uluru. The hotel complex is relatively recent though. Previously, at the foot of Uluru, there were a multitude of camps and motels not officially recognized by the government.
The paths around the Rock were not well marked, climbing was not regulated and public facilities were non existent. This led to several accidents and a state of general confusion that caused the discontent of the aboriginal tribes.
The government stopped this situation of anarchy by clearing the area under Uluru and allowing a private company to build a resort. That was how the town of Yulara was born, and it almost entirely coincides with the resort itself.
Almost all of the nearly 900 inhabitants has a job of some kind at the Ayers Rock Resort. The set of properties and hotels passed from hand to hand until arriving today at the Indigenous Land Corporation.
Now that you know a little bit more about Yulara it’s time to get to brass tacks!
Ayers Rock Resort | Ayers Rock Airport (AYQ)
When I first saw the runway from above I thought: ” where the hell are we gonna land?!.” 😀
But most important, before landing you get the first glimpse of The Rock.
Just breathtaking. It’s not smooth and plain on the top as you might expect, but there’re many hollows and overhangs.
Yulara’s tiny airport, also called Connellan Airport, is just a few minutes drive from Ayers Rock Resort. You don’t have to worry about anything once you arrive: pick up your luggage and a free shuttle bus will take you to your accommodation. The airport is pretty basic but it’s a miracle it even exists!
There’re very LIMITED daily (or 4x week) flights so book well in advance. Only 4 cities are served and precisely:
- Sydney (Jetstar, Virgin)
- Melbourne (Jetstar)
- Cairns (Qantas)
- Alice Springs (Qantas)
Note: scrolling through the flights on skyscanner or other websites you will notice other airlines (Etihad, Emirates,etc) fly from/to Ayers Rock. However, they are all operated by the Jetstar, Virgin and Qantas anyway.
Ayers Rock Resort | How to get around
A free shuttle bus loops around the Ayers Rock Resort every 15-20 minutes from 10.30am – 12.30am. It stops at all hotels (campground included) but it does NOT take you to Uluru unfortunately. It just circulates the resort.
If you need to get to the Lasseter Highway (which connects the resort to the main landmarks) you have to rent your own car or get a paid shuttle bus/coach as I previously described. There are no motorbikes or bicycles for rent, not that I’m aware of.
The last option is just walking, which is fine because the area reserved for tourists is quite compact. If you stay on the east side of the resort (Lodge & Campground) you can reach bank/post office/supermarket/etc and the Town Square with a 10-15 mins walk. If you stay on the west side (all the nice hotels and apartments) you’ll be there in just 5 mins.
As you can see from the map each hotel has its own facilities. The Outback Pioneer Lodge & Hotel where I stayed has a swimming pools, 4 car parks, a laundry, and a souvenir shop. As a matter of fact around the mid/high-range hotels you’ll get better facilities (tennis courts, art galleries, gas stations and more).
Ayers Rock Resort | The Outback Pioneer Lodge
The free shuttle bus picked me up in front of the Airport and dropped me right in front of the hostel I chose: the Outback Pioneer Lodge.
The staff at the reception was super nice and welcoming, they provided us with tons of maps and leaflets, gave us the key and marked the position of our room on the map.
Why did I chose the Outback Pioneer Lodge?
Well, my friends and I ain’t camping fans so we narrowed down our choice to the Outback Pioneer Lodge which by the way has very good reviews on bookig.com. The west side hotels were out of our budget.
The hostel boasts private rooms and dorm rooms, with and without bathroom. There’s really enough choice for all kinds of budget travelers:
- budget room with/without private bathroom
- 4 bed private room with shared bathroom
- 4 bed shared mixed dorm with shared bathroom
- 20 bed male only/female only dorm with shared bathroom
I went for the first option. Travelling with 2 friends it made sense to me to book a private room with ensuite.
I didn’t expect much from this hostel and it turned out to be the best hostel room I’ve been in Australia!
My room featured air-con/heating, private bathroom with excellent shower, fast wifi, kettle, tv. The mats were very soft and comfortable, I can’t really find anything negative about that room. No complaints.
If you opt for the dorms you can access to communal showers and toilets, which I used once and found extremely clean.
Good news: the WiFi is free and available not only inside your room but also outside! In fact, the signal is excellent across the entire area occupied by the Pioneer Lodge communal facilities and restaurants.
NOTE: If you prefer a classic more comfortable hotel room with king size beds or you’re travelling with kids then I suggest you to have a look at my previous overview on Yulara accommodation options .
You’ve got plenty of choice from mid range hotels (Outback Pioneer Hotel and Desert Gardens Hotel ) , apartments (Emu Walk Apartments ) and even 2 five star hotels (Sails in the Desert and Longitude 131). Finally, here’s the link with all Ayers Rock accommodation listed on booking.com.
Ayers Rock Resort | Communal facilities at Outback Pioneer Lodge & Hotel
Let’s start with the good news: the swimming pool can be freely used by all the guests! No matter if you stay at the low budget Lodge or at the Hotel, you can go for a swim 😉
The common areas and the paths leading to the dormitories are very well kept and in line with the style of the wild outback. There is almost no use of concrete on the ground, and many little pathways are indicated by means of shrubs and brushwood. Sounds ugly but it actually suits the adventurous spirit of an holiday in Uluru.
Even walking from the laundry to the kitchen is so exciting! Red sand, rocks and shrubbery everywhere!
The Guest Kitchen ‘s got all you need to cook pasta/noodles /whatever else and provides dishes, cutlery and many sauces so beloved by my Anglo-Americans friends.
There is a lovely common room with television and sofas (literally garrisoned by Chinese tourists) and surprisingly enough some arcade games !! The icing on the cake.
If you want to try the local food and you’re on a budget you can try the do-it-yourself Outback BBQ & Bar. Otherwise just few steps away there’s the Outback Pioneer Kitchen (pizza/burgers/sandwiches kind of things).
The n1 choice if you’re on a shoestring is the mighty supermarket! Speaking of what, it’s time to introduce the next topic: the Town Square!
Ayers Rock Resort | The Town Square
The Town Square is located between the Sails in the Desert Hotel and the Emu Walk Apartments. The highlights of the square are:
- Post Office
- tour & info centre
- various specialty shops
The main reason to head to the Town Square is of course the IGA Supermarket.
Although the prices are inflated, it’s not as expensive and it could be (having the absolute monopoly in Yulara). There’s a great variety of products, you can virtually find everything you need.
My Final Thoughts on Ayers Rock Resort
The biggest mistake you can do do is to leave from Alice Springs on a day tour and get a glimpse of the Rock for few hours.
If you’re still undecided have a look at my pros/cons breakdown.
Set aside your concerns about costs for this time. I have traveled to nearly 20 states and the holiday in Uluru was definitely among the most expensive ever.
Have I ever regretted it? NEVER.
Uluru can treat you with unforgettable sunsets, an endless horizon, nights where the stars seem within your reach…and above all the beautiful silence of the Australian Outback. Staying at the Resort makes all this possible.
Wherever you decide to stay … Have a great time at Ayers Rock!
It took me many hours to write this Uluru Travel Guide and I did it purely for the pleasure to share with you my wonderful life experience in the Outback. Exploring the surroundings of Uluru, discovering its wonders and secret is a memory I will cherish forever.
I tried my best to put together all the info I’ve got, adding my personal experience and some good advice to it. In case you missed it, check out the first part of the guide “how to plan your holiday to Uluru“. Naturally there’s much more to say about this magical land and I’ll try to cover it in the next weeks with further posts. Hope you found it helpful!
If you’re going to Uluru please consider booking your room clicking on my links, I will get a tiny commission from Booking.com which helps to cover the costs of running this website.
Last, feel free to bookmark this page and comment below for any question you may have!
Have a great time in Uluru!
(I stayed at: Outback Pioneer Lodge cheapest & recommended!
for other options: check booking.com Ayers Rock hotels).