Outback Campout

If you are pressed for time, an overnight camping tour is one of the best ways to get the outback experience and to squeeze in a sunset and sunrise viewing.

Given the short amount of time I had in the red centre, I joined a camping tour which included transfers, a hike and the Mala Walk at the base of Uluru (Different operators will provide different activities but are more or less the same).

After our afternoon pick up from Yulara (You depart pre-dawn if leaving from Alice Springs) a choice was given between going to the Cultural Centre and the Mala Walk (which also has the Mutitjulu Waterhole) at the base of Uluru or the full 10km walk around the base of Uluru.

Up close panoramic shot
Moon is out early in winter

I opted for the Cultural Centre (No photos allowed) and the Mala Walk, in hindsight, if you had no time to do both activities, it’s better to do the base walk. Why?

  • Cultural Centre won’t have any information that Wikipedia won’t have and the things on display can be seen around the resort town of Yulara.
  • The informative sections of the Centre are not that large and the visit will feel dominated by the Souvenir shop. Great place to pick up wood art and indigenous paintings at a good price, though.
  • If you do the base walk you will do the Mala Walk and see the Mutitjulu Waterhole anyway. The places of most significance on the Mala Walk have signs and explanations even if you don’t have a tour guide with you.
Uluru from the base on the Mala walk
Old wall paintings from way back when.

Whatever you choose to do, it will take you to about sunset time, where everyone will be whisked away to a purpose built viewing area (A car park essentially…) to enjoy the sunset with snacks and champagne. This area can get pretty noisy as there will be coaches full of people here, not the place if you are after a serene sunset.

The black marks are left over when rain causes waterfalls
Mutitjulu Waterhole

Whatever you choose to do, it will take you to about sunset time, where everyone will be whisked away to a purpose built viewing area (A car park essentially…) to enjoy the sunset with snacks and champagne. This area can get pretty noisy as there will be coaches full of people here, not the place if you are after a serene sunset.

Ultimate tourist shot with a glass of champagne

Come night, the opportunity is there for you to sleep in a “cabin” (it’s more of a hardened tent with a wood base) or to sleep under the stars, i.e. sleep in your sleeping in the very cold night on the ground and maybe get pneumonia if you didn’t bring enough clothes…like me. The campgrounds are located within Yulara, not out in the desert (so yes, you technically can go hop on the resort shuttle and pop by the supermarket or go get on the piss at the Outback Pioneer bar).

Campfire…For the night is dark and full of terrors
The campgrounds are located at the far corner of Yulara, away from the lights of town and have its own lookout.
The lookout offers a good night photography spot

For sunrise viewing, there is yet another purpose built area for this which everyone is transported to. It gets pretty busy in this area so don’t be that person who holds up your group and be ready to get up very early, 4 am in our case.

The beginning of sunrise

 

DSC02035
Those clouds, though

 

Sunrise
The Olgas, see the Olgas hike here!

Lastly props to our tour guide for being funny all the time, kept everyone entertained and had plenty of knowledge of the area.

Overnight Camping Tours by Emu Run Experience

Cost: $349 pp

What to take at a minimum: A pillow, towel, walking shoes, sun protection, sleeping bag (unless you want to pay $15 to borrow one), toiletries. Lots of warm clothes if its Winter.

Do I need to be fit? Whilst a lot of activities are optional, to get the most out of this experience…yes.

Will I meet people / make friends? Yes, group sizes are relatively small and you will be doing things together like meal preparation and making campfires.

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