Our recent trip to Uluru was a bit of a knee jerk reaction to some cheap flights I managed to book without fully researching what other associated costs would amount too! Gotta love that hey, book before you think!! I’m rather good at it. Here’s my review of the Ayers Rock campground
Early February I was sat at my desk at work and I received a Jetstar email advising a new route from Melbourne to Ayers Rock direct and due to the new route they were offering discounted flights for $99 each way – bargain I thought!! Without even thinking I thought wonder if those flights will be available for Craig’s birthday in August, bingo available and without much other thought they were booked and paid for! I was pretty proud of myself.
The next day I stated to look at accommodation options at Uluru Resort and found that there are only 4 options at the resort and a campground! When I was looking on Agoda the cheapest option was still over $350 per night at the Outback Pioneer Lodge which attracts most of the backpackers! At the other end there was Sails in the Desert at $700 per night. I had to keep in mind that we also have a trip to Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Borneo booked for 6 weeks after this date and anything I was spending here was taking away from spending money on the big trip with the kids. Oops, this is looking expensive, I started to stress.
I decided to call the Ayers Rock Resort and speak with someone. I generally don’t like spending excessive amounts of money on accommodation when it can be better spent on activities, in this case a helicopter ride over Uluru, Sounds of Silence Dinner and Kings Canyon day tour. The lady that answered the phone was extremely helpful and advised that whilst they don’t advertise it the campground has cabins for $165 per night. Awesome, book that please. She warned me that it was basic with no en-suite facilities. I was happy with that as the first evening we had 5 hours sleep as we had the Sounds of Silence dinner then next morning we had a 4.50am pick up time for the Kings Canyon tour. The next night we had nearly 6 hours sleep as I wanted to get up and see the sunrise at Uluru. So this was perfect for us. The sleeping times were the only times we were using the cabin.
The cabin was basic and although this time it was only myself and Craig, the cabin was able to accommodate 6 people. It had a double bed at one end and 2 sets of bunk beds at the other with a small kitchenette in the middle with a heater/air con that worked a treat. If you’re a family on a budget I think this is an awesome option especially if you are only planning on sleeping there. As a family of 5 we would certainly stay there again instead of paying for 2 rooms at a hotel.
The showers were excellent, they were clean and the water was hot. I showered in the afternoon to stay clear of peak times but also because it was August and the mornings and evenings were very cold. I was in there by myself and found the water hot and consistent which can often be a problem in campgrounds when its peak time. I was surprised at how busy the campground was, there were plenty of families there too which was wonderful to see and of course got me thinking about getting back there with the kids at a later date. The campground also had a swimming pool, playground, giant chess board and a internet room.
The way the Ayers Rock Resort is set out it is easy enough to walk between all the accommodation. We hired a car from Vroom Vroom (book in advance as vehicles are limited) and we literally drove it from the airport to the accommodation on the Friday and it stayed there until the Sunday morning when we headed off for the sunrise at Uluru then a quick visit to Kata Tjuta then straight back to the airport. You could probably do without a vehicle but for $100 I thought the freedom would be worth that. The Ayers Rock Resort has a complimentary shuttle service that runs between all the accommodation sights. It runs every 20mins from 10.30am until 12.30am. There are 4 lookouts around the resort for viewing the rock. The shuttle bus will get you close to the viewing lookouts and then its a short walk from there. The shuttle bus does not go out to the National Park.
All in all this is a great budget option for families and anyone else looking to save some money.