CISABROAD BLOG · November 26, 2019 · 5 Min Read
Budgeting Your Trip to Uluru | Student Blog from the Gold Coast

Located in the northern territory in Central Australia and highlighted by the two rock formations Uluru and Kata Tjuta, Uluru is in the middle of the ever-expansive Australian outback. As much as Uluru draws attention to its enormity, It is also one of the most sacred grounds for aboriginal people.

Uluru showcases the spectrum of beauty that Australia’s natural wonders have to offer. If you are considering traveling there, my blog may give you a better idea of budgeting your trip to Uluru!

Expenses (in Australian Dollar)

Budgeting Your Trip to Uluru

Transportation

The flight to Uluru has greatly improved. Quite recently, JetStar (a budget Australian airline) has begun offering more frequent trips from the Brisbane Airport directly to Uluru, which means the airfare is SUBSTANTIALLY lower than before. One can now fly from the Brisbane Airport to Uluru for around $225-275 AUD, nearly half of what the flight would have cost just a year prior. Once you’ve arrived, there are a few options to get  around Uluru to the breathtaking hikes:

1. Rent a car

2. Use the Uluru Hop-On/Hop-Off Pass

3. Take guided tours

Unfortunately, the Uluru airport does not allow minors under 21 to rent vehicles, due to the limited supply (and it makes a lot of sense…it’s in the middle of the Australian outback). Instead, we decided to purchase the Uluru Hop On Hop Off pass! Here’s why we chose the Uluru Hop On Hop Off pass:

Budgeting Your Trip to Uluru

1. It’s the cheapest way to get around.

The pass costs $185 AUD, however, the only other way to get to the offered hikes would be booking with a private tour company. This is an option if you hope to get a guided walk. However, you’ll be spending substantially more money. Note that this expense was incurred under “activities” in my expenses report above.

2. The buses have a set schedule.

If you’re like me, you’re probably wanting flexibility. However, keep this in mind when you’re hiking at Uluru: many of the hikes and lookouts are BEST seen at sunrise and sunset, and many of the hikes are closed during the middle of the day due to heat (it’s some serious heat, ya’ll)! Having this set schedule keeps you disciplined to take advantage of all the beauty, and ensure you don’t drive to a trail that is closed!

3. You get much more than just the hike.

Many of the drivers of the Hop On Hop Off buses have lived in the area for many years. Hence, they have valuable cultural capital and information about the rock formations and the land. Uluru is also a sacred land to the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people. Some of the drivers themselves are aboriginal and are able to offer incredible insight into the sanctity of the land.

Lodging

Budgeting Your Trip to Uluru

At Uluru, the only accommodation available is at the Ayer’s Rock Resort. It is labeled as a resort, as its price reflects! I suggest staying at the Outback Pioneer Lodge, which is the hostel-style accommodation at Ayer’s Rock Resort in Uluru. Unless you are bringing camping gear with you and are ready to sleep in tents after a long day of hiking in sometimes blistering heat, go for the hostels.

Food

1. Use Outback Pioneer’s kitchen

Head to the front desk and secure your kitchen supplies (pots, pans, silverware, utensils) for a $40 AUD refundable deposit when you check out.

2. Shop at the IGA at the Town’s Square

This is the only supermarket in town that offers all of your needs to make a sustainable meal.

3. Avoid paying for food provided by the resort

Anything from the continental breakfast to the dinner buffet is expensive (I saw prices for $25 AUD per person breakfast buffets). Maybe splurge on your last night, but consistently purchasing the food from the resort is not recommended.

Activities

Uluru is much more than hiking…much more. Check these other places out when you’re in Australia’s outback:

1.Field of Lights

Budgeting Your Trip to Uluru

Field of Lights involves traveling outside of the resort to the middle of a wide-open desert area, where densely splattered flickering colored LED lights glow from the top of a pole staked into the desert ground like a luminescent plant. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to travel to the world of Avatar, I think this exhibition is about as close as you can get. The exhibition was supposed to end last year (2018).

However, its incredible popularity has left it running well past its contracted run time. For $45 AUD, this is a MUST if you visit Uluru. Remember to take a look up as well, it’s a miraculous and transformative place to stargaze.

2. Wintjiri Arts and Museum

Visiting the Wintjiri Arts and Museum is a good way to fill time when it is the middle of the day and the heat is, well, unbearable. Inside, you’ll find a really neat array of Aboriginal art, including some interesting exhibits of local species. The museum also has AIR CONDITIONING!

Remember: Uluru is sacred land for aboriginal people. You are a visitor. The local Anangu people have opened their land for visitors to explore Uluru’s natural and spiritual beauty. There are certain formations and sites at Uluru that should not be photographed under any circumstance. Be a culturally respectful traveler and respectfully enforce the rule if you observe travelers taking photos of sacred spots.

I hope my experience and tips are helpful in budgeting your trip to Uluru!


Read Alex’s other blog posts about budgeting for weekend trips to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

Read other blog posts from Gold Coast or about Budgeting abroad!
Read more about Alex’s program in Australia!

The CIS Abroad blog is run by Zoë Crabtree, Jenn Weisgerber, Siobhan Tripp, Emily Negard, and more folks on our marketing team. Head over to the “Meet the Team” page to learn more about us as individuals. On the blog, we share student-written content and information for students, advisors, other study abroad professionals, and families of students studying abroad. Check out our Facebook and Instagram for more from us and our students!