Alice Springs is the gateway to the great red outback. A road trip to Ayers Rock is a popular choice and one of the top routes in Australia. There’s plenty to see and do along the way to Uluru with your Alice Springs Airport car hire.
From Alice Springs, you will start the journey to Ayers Rock by heading south on the Stuart Highway. Passing through Heavitree Gap, you’ll come to Mt Polhill, which is a basic road stop, and a little distance beyond that, to the massive Owen Springs Reserve. This is a rich historical area, with geocaching, Aboriginal rock art, bird watching and free camping spots. Once a cattle ranch, it opened to the public as a reserve in 2003. If you have a 4WD, take the unsealed road through to the Waterhouse Range, a place of great spiritual meaning.
Along the Hugh River there are many great camp sites. The whole area within Lawrence Gorge is available for camping.
75km south of Alice Springs you will come to the Rainbow Valley turnoff. This has some basic facilities – BBQs, picnic tables and long drop toilets. Or carry on another 5 km to Stuarts Well Roadhouse. There is a caravan park here as well as toilets, restaurant and lots of animals – emus, kangaroos, even camels.
Further along the Stuart Highway brings you to the Finke River rest area and the Desert Oaks rest areas, both popular stopping spots with basic amenities. After this, another landmark is Erldunda Roadhouse. Here there’s a caravan park, service station, cafe and tavern, and cell phone reception – you’re unlikely to get coverage beyond here.
Turn right onto the Lasseter Highway for the last stretch of the journey on to Uluru, which is about 250km. About halfway through you may spot Mt Conner and mistake it for Ayers Rock – don’t be fooled! (There is no public access to Mt Conner.) Carry on until you reach the real Ayers Rock.
The drive from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock is a good solid half-day drive – leave at least 5 hours. The road is sealed and straight, however you must watch out for animals. Cattle roam freely, and at night, kangaroos are also active. Don’t attempt the drive in the dark.