City description

Those who journeyed to the scorching heart of Australia’s Northern Territory before the arrival of Yulara might say that today’s global nomads have things too easy. Until recent decades, travellers wanting to experience all the mystery of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) had to be more than a little bit adventurous. With the nearest town 450 kilometres (280 miles) away, reaching the mythical sites required both meticulous planning and great amounts of patience. For camels, once the principle means of outback transport, were never renowned for their speed and comfort, and glamping was not yet a thing.

Today, camel trains are reserved for guided tours, and glamorous camping (not to mention luxury hotel) opportunities are aplenty. In an effort to curb the negative impact unmonitored tourism was having on the desert environment, Yulara was born in the late 1970s. Also known as Ayers Rock Resort, the township lies just outside the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, only 18 kilometres (11 miles) away from the rock itself. Due to its remote location, it was built to be self-sufficient. Solar panels adorn every roof, cooling canopies provide outdoor climate control and artesian bores draw water for the town’s many swimming pools. 

As may be expected in a place that exists purely for lodging purposes, accommodation comes in all shapes and sizes in Yulara. From low-cost hotels and 5-star resorts to serviced apartments and luxury campgrounds, there is a room, suite or tent for all budgets and preferences. The upscale hotels provide meeting and function rooms for out-of-the-ordinary business experiences and out-of-this-world events.

Dining options also range from simple to extra-special in and around Yulara. A supermarket and a number of takeaway outlets are handy when dining in. They can be found clustered around the town square, alongside a few novelty boutiques, the information centre, bank and post office. The hotels and resorts feature a wide variety of restaurants, bars and cafés – great for anything from a family night out to a romantic gourmet meal for two. Even more tantalising experiences can be had further afield, with many food-based excursions into the Outback on offer. 

A UNESCO World Heritage Listed Area for its stunning beauty and deep cultural significance, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park attracts over 400,000 visitors per year. Over 500 million years ago, the region sat at the bottom of an inland sea. The waters eventually receded, folding and shaping the land. In their wake they left one of the world’s largest monoliths – Uluru, or Ayers Rock as it came to be known in the late 1800s when British explorers first ventured into this part of the Australian Outback – and an immense cluster of 36 domed boulders known as Kata Tjuta, or the Olgas. 

Yulara has made it easy to visit these iconic natural wonders. The displays at the tourist information centre overflow with tour brochures inviting visitors to discover Australia’s red heart. By foot, bike, camel or Segway… Alone, with the family or as a group… At sunrise, sunset or under night skies… Ayers Rock and the Olgas are fascinating in all circumstances. One of the most amazing ways to discover them is by helicopter. One of the most authentic: in the footsteps of indigenous cultures on a storytelling tour of the bush.

The Aboriginal people of Central Australia believe that the unusual red-tinged rock formations were created when the great spirit ancestors of the Dreamtime broke through the crust of the earth. Scientists tell another less imaginative but equally fascinating story of inselbergs and rock erosion. Whichever way one looks at it, Urulu-Kata Tjuta has been around for a very long time. And thanks to the township of Yulara, global nomads will be able to experience all the mystery and majesty of Australia’s Red Centre for many many years to come.
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