Yulara, also known as Ayers Rock Resort, is a service town for Uluru, acting as an accommodation base for visitors to the park. It was constructed in the 1980s and is just outside the national park boundaries.
In 2010 the resort was purchased by the Indigenous Land Council who plan to have 50% of the Resorts workforce made up of Indigenous people by 2018.
Most people at Yulara would stay one or two nights, and many are on tours. Finding people who spend a week is unusual. The township tends to be very quiet during times when the tours are viewing the rock. The hotel swimming pools (what there are of them) and bars are empty during the mid-afternoons.
Get in the same way as you would to Uluru. There is a free shuttle between the airport and Yulara meeting every flight.
There is a free shuttle that connects all the hotels and campground at Yulara. There are also very pleasant walking tracks between them, with views of the rock, and opportunities for wildlife spotting.
There are 4 lookouts in the 'town' area of Yulara, which give views out onto the National Park. Each of the hotels/camp grounds have a lookout close to them, being the Emu Lookout for Desert Gardens, Emu Walk apartments, Lost Camel and Sails in the Desert, Pioneer Lookout for the Outback Pioneer Hotel and Naninga Lookout for the Ayers Rock Resort Campground. There is also another look out in the middle of Yulara Drive, called the Imalung Lookout.
Additionally there is a lookout in the coach campground area, should you be travelling on a coach camping tour. This gives a view of the resort, as well as Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
For an idea of the wildlife in the National Park, visit the Visitors Centre, located next door to the Desert Gardens Hotel.
Of course, the main thing to do is to get out to Uluru and Kata Tjuta, but the lookouts in the resort tend to be forgotten about - and at sunrise and sunset they have a different aspect for a photo.
You might also want to see Mount Conner, a plateau frequently mistaken for Ayers Rock by travelers.
Arrangements can be made for helicopter tours of the area, ranging from quick, ten minute buzzes of Uluru to longer rides taking in Kata Tjuta and King's Canyon as well. For a more level perspective, visitors can try camel rides. There are also astronomy walks in the evening. Reservations must be made for all events, however. Offices are located throughout the resort. There are other sorts of short daily presentations in a grassy area a short walk from the village square that have a published schedule, such as dot painting class. There is a presentation of local aboriginal dance also. The only problem is don't expect the aboriginal dancing display to be actually by aboriginal people. However, if you accept the view that Australia's ancient history is the common heritage of all Australians, then the dance display might interest you... warning, you will probably be asked to join in. Obviously 99.9% of visitors go to the rock, $25 per person entry fee to the park payable at the gate; and further on to the Olgas (Kata-Tjuta) where there are several excellent walks and viewpoints of a really completely different part of the same rock formation. Its covered by your $25 park entry fee also.
Being run by a monopoly and in the middle of absolutely nowhere, everything at Yulara is expensive. Hotel rooms cost much more than in Sydney, restaurants charge at least twice what they would be elsewhere, and even groceries, are inflated. Petrol, however is surprisingly cheaper than anywhere in the area, so this is the best place to fuel up for all directions. The grocery store in town is well stocked with a combination of groceries, staff prepared sandwiches and food items, and dry goods. Compared to the restaurant prices, the food options here are surprisingly good and in some cases cheaper than larger towns.
Each of the hotels and campgrounds in the resort have a restaurant or two that is priced within the same range as the accommodation, although expect to pay a premium for the location. Be aware of the time of day, as meals may be 'on' or 'off', meaning that kitchens are not open at all times. All restaurants are located within the ring road and thus within shuttle bus or hiking distance of each other.
The only budget option is self-catering. Groceries can be purchased at the IGA supermarket for only mildly inflated prices. The Outback Pioneer has a kitchen for guests only.
Yulara offers a variety of accommodation from camping through to 5 star. The village is split up into sections depending on the accommodation type. All the hotels, the campground, the lodge, and the hostel are managed by Voyages, +61 8 8957 7888, fax +61 8 8957 7615, , .
Because of the remoteness, and the nature of the concession to a single operator, expect to pay a premium for accommodation. Don't expect large lagoon pools, or resort type activities at the hotels. The township can get quiet during the day as people take part in activities sightseeing within the park.
At $300+/night even in the off season, all other accommodations in Yulara are firmly in the splurge category in price, if not facilities.
Technically not in Yulara itself, but only a stone's throw away, is one more option:
There is a shopping centre which has a supermarket (with some produce and baked goods), take-away restaurants, gift shops, newsagents, an ANZ bank and ATM, and a post office.
There is also a petrol station in the resort -- It is NOT open 24 hours. It is advisable to top-up your tank the night before if you plan an early morning departure. There is also a hairdressers that does beauty treatments as well.
Flies in Yulara are seasonal (and unpredictable), but when they're out in force, there can be lots. When you first arrive you may laugh at people looking stupid wearing full screens over their hats, but after a day out you may be joining them. The fly nets that you wear over your hat with an elastic gather at the neck can be had online for less than $3.00 and will repay you tenfold. Without one, you could have a day of sightseeing ruined by incessant small flies. They can also be purchased in the town square for an inflated price, still worth it.