Ayres Rock Resort is a funny place because everyone goes to bed really early and then wakes up before 5am to catch the sun rising over Uluru (I realize that a lot of early risers may not actually find this funny). Not wanting to miss a single moment of being in the Outback, we were no exception, going to bed before 9pm and waking up at 5am in our chilly cabin at Ayres Rock Campground.
To save money and have more flexibility we chose not to go on a tour bus like most people and were able to rent a car. This was a great choice for us because we could stick to our own schedule in the morning and got to sleep in a little bit later, unlike most people on the tours who had to wake up at 4am. It also allowed us to tour the park at our own leisure and come and go as we wanted to.
We went in early September, which is winter in Australia, so we put on all of our clothes (I wore 2 pairs of pants) and headed out to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. At the gate we had to purchase tickets into the park, which were $25 each for a 3 day pass. The park fees are used to help maintain infrastructure and the environment, and part of the money goes back to Anangu traditional owners, to help them maintain their families and the Mutitjulu community.
A local recommended that we watch the sunrise at the Sunset Viewing Area, which was a less crowded option because the tour buses don’t go there in the morning. It was beautiful to see the moon over Uluru as the sun rose behind it.
We watched the sunrise, but should have been more patient at this viewing area because if we had waited 20 more minutes we would have seen the sun rise up directly over Uluru. Instead, we were freezing and ended up driving to the Sunrise Viewing Area, which is on the other side of the rock. The sun comes up in front of the rock in this area so you get to see the rock turn very red as the sun rises in front of it.
The best part about watching the sunrise and the sunset over Uluru is watching the colours of the rock change right before your eyes. I took hundreds of amazing pictures that all look different and I probably could have taken a thousand more! Watching the sunrise over Uluru should be on the top of everyone’s bucket list; it was one of the most stunning things I’ve seen.