WARNING: The Ayers Rock budget tips on this page will help you save money.
Ayers Rock Resort is expensive. There is no denying it.
A single company owns all of the accommodation, so there’s no competition at all.
Yet over the years, we’ve discovered a number of ways to save money at Ayers Rock.
These have been gleaned from our many visits to Ayers Rock Resort and the fact that we frequently talk to tourists who’ve just been to the Rock.
People who visit Uluru tell us there’s two main reasons they’re disappointed by their visit:
- It’s expensive
- It’s too controlled (restricted)
Whilst we can’t do much about the restrictions on where you can and can’t go, by using our Ayers Rock budget tips, you’ll be able save money when you visit the Rock.
READ THIS: What to Ask Yourself Before You Go
You can go to Ayers Rock from Sydney or Melbourne (and return) for a lot less than $1000 AUD.
To do this though, you need to look at what kind of travel experience you want, and know exactly what kind of traveller you are.
For this reason, we recommend you read our Pre-Planning Guide to Uluru.
We tell you how to avoid common tourist/beginner mistakes when visiting Uluru. We’ll help you get maximum travel experience with a minimum amount of fuss and money.
Here’s some tough questions that to ask yourself before you start planning:
- Are you willing to camp or sleep in a safari tent?
- Would you prefer to self drive, to take an Uluru tour, or fly?
- How many days do you want to spend at Uluru?
- What time of year would you like to go?
- Is it important to just see the Rock and take photos, or do you want to climb it or walk around it?
Take some time to think about these questions, because the answer will influence how you can use the rest of the information on this page to save money at Uluru.
Also remember, that no matter when or how you decide to go, you’ll still have to pay the $25 AUD per person entry fee into Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park. There are no exceptions.
You can find more Uluru travel planning tips here.
The first budget tip we have concerns WHEN to plan your visit.
You see, if you plan carefully and avoid the April-October tourist season, and especially the July-August peak time, then you’ll save hundreds of dollars on accommodation.
Most Ayers Rock hotels are heavily discounted if you go in summer, between the months of November to March.
During December and January, you’ll often find specials with rooms discounted over $200 per room per night.
That’s a huge Ayers Rock discount!
In the summer it’s very hot, there’s lots of flies, and you definitely won’t be able to climb Ayers Rock if you’re planning to do so.
However, if it’s your dream to see Uluru, experience the desert’s magical ambiance, take sunset or sunrise photos, this is a very good choice.
Even better, over summer in Australia, you’ll find quite a few combined flight/accommodation deals advertised in Australian newspapers and online (around $597 per person for 3 nights at Uluru, including flights ex-Sydney).
We recommend subscribing to Qantas’s Red-E Deals newsletter if you’re interested in this option.
How Long to Stay?
If you just want to see Uluru and snap a few photos or you don’t have a lot of time to spend in Australia, then flying in to Ayers Rock and flying out on the same day might suit you – we REALLY don’t recommend this and you can read exactly why in this article about travelling to Uluru here.
Whatever you decide, you can find the occasional cheap flightsto Ayers Rock (by Australian standards) can be found easily from Alice Springs Sydney and Melbourne.
Sometimes, it’s cheaper to fly from Sydney to Ayers Rock than it is to fly to Alice Springs!
So if you’re prepared to simply fly in and fly out on the same day, you’ll save you hundreds of dollars on accommodation and car hire.
The bad thing about this is that you won’t be able to climb the Rock (if that’s what you want to do), or spend a lot of time looking around.
The bad news is that unless you are able to camp (or do the dirty tricks we don’t recommend below), there is no REAL Ayers Rock budget accommodation.
The Ayers Rock budget tips below assume that you are driving a car or campervan and have camping equipment.
Our very best cheap Ayers Rock accommodation tips are these:
- The first option is to camp at Ayers Rock in Yulara’s campground ($32 per person, per night). Camping is the cheapest accommodation option at Uluru.
- The second option is to get a group of 4 or 5 people together. Book a cabin in the campground ($180 per night). This could mean you pay as little as $35 per person, per night.
To save even more money, buy your food in Alice Springs before you go as Yulara’s supermarket is a little more expensive – although it’s nowhere near as expensive as you might be expecting!
Sneaky Ways to Save Money at Ayers Rock Hotels?
There’s only two real ways to save money on Ayers Rock hotels: go in summer or travel with a bona fide NT resident.
(Ok, there is a third way: become a travel agent. Travel agents get OUTRAGEOUS discounts on the hotels at Ayers Rock. I’m not sure if travel bloggers can pull this off, but it’s worth a try!)
As we’ve said above, hotels at Ayers Rock discount their rates heavily in the summer months. If you don’t mind the heat and flies, then this might be ok for you.
Another way to get a discount at an Ayers Rock hotel is if you’re a Northern Territory resident.
We’ve saved over $100 per night at the Outback Pioneer and the Emu Walk Apartments, by showing our NT driver’s licences.
Not an NT resident? Our advice is to find a friend in Alice Springs and take them with you!
Extreme Budget Tips and Dirty Tricks
Yes, we’ve still got a few more Ayers Rock budget tips up our sleeves!
If you don’t want to drive, then our recommendation is to take one of the many Uluru Tours from Alice Springs. Taking a tour is the cheapest way to see Uluru and have a quality and fun experience.
Let’s just say this: you can find 3 day tours from Alice Springs for as little as $295 per person.
If you’re able to self-drive, then we’ve got a couple more dirt-cheap budget options for you:
- Camp at the FREE roadside stop that’s only 40km (25min) drive from Uluru.
- Camp for $3 at Curtin Springs (80km east/50min drive from Uluru), drive to Uluru/Kata Tjuta for the day, and return to Curtin Springs in the evening.
This means you can do the climb, visit Mt Olga (Kata Tjuta) and do the Valley of the Winds walk, and see the sunset. You will need to be careful driving back to Curtin Springs as there are lots of camels and cattle on the road.
- Another option is to camp in the road reserve outside the park. In the Northern Territory, you are legally permitted to camp next to the road (within the road reserve which extends about 50 metres either side of the road).
Note: camping on the road reserve inside Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National is absolutely illegal and you will get caught!
Finally there is the dirty trick option: camp in the bush somewhere, just outside the park boundary.
We know that people do this, just as we know that some people camp illegally inside the national park. Technically, you’re supposed to get the permission of the pastoral station owner if you do this – but as we’ve said above, camping in the road reserve is legal in the Northern Territory.
We don’t recommend that you do this, unless you ask first.
We hope that you’ve found the advice on this page useful and this page has made you think about the kind of traveller you are, the experience you want to have, and made you aware that pre-travel planning is vital if you’re on a shoe-string budget.
If you’ve found the Ayers Rock budget tips on this page helpful, please share it on Pinterest or Google Plus. You can share and unlock a free, printable PDF of the article, too.
Likewise, if you’ve found a way of seeing Uluru cheap, have an update, or any suggestions, please share them in the comments below.