ROAD TRIP: Driving from Sydney to Uluru
"You're DRIVING to Uluru? Why don't you fly?"
No way. Driving to Uluru (previously known as Ayers Rock) is the only way to get there. Our girls haven't lived in Australia very long and what better way to get to know the country, and get a real sense of the vastness and geography of the Outback than by driving into the Red Centre?
It's around 2800km each way from Sydney (nearly 6000km return trip), which is a long way. However, the roads are great, and it's definitely an amazing experience.
We did a round trip - via the Murrimbidgee and Murray rivers, across southern NSW (staying in Hay, Renmark and Melrose) before taking the road through Coober Pedy to Uluru. On the way back we drove via Broken Hill and Cobar.
Because we needed to fit the trip into roughly two weeks, we booked hotels along the way, but we also took a tent and camped at Uluru for three nights. The campsite is extremely well set up, with multiple free barbecues and even a few fridges in which to store your perishables. There are a few swimming pools, a supermarket and several restaurants that cater to a range of budgets.
Here are our great reasons why you should drive, not fly to uluru:
1) You get a sense of the scale of the landscape. Driving there makes the rock even more impressive when you experience first-hand where it's located and the landscape that surrounds it.
2) Anyone can do it. Despite what you may think, you don't need a four wheel drive or campervan to do this trip; any decent car will do the trip without difficulty. Air-conditioning and carrying a box of water (you can get a 10-litre box at any supermarket) are definitely recommended, but there's no real need to carry extra fuel or food as there are roadhouses at regular intervals along the way - just be sure to watch your mileage and fill up when you get the opportunity.
3) You get to meet outback Australia. If you fly, you'll really only get to meet people who are heavily involved in Uluru tourism. And while they're generally great people, there's every likelihood that they're on a working holiday from Europe or have moved from the city for a job in tourism, rather than having been born and bred in the area. If you drive to Uluru, you can't help but stop in at local hotels, shops and restaurants, and visit local events and "driver revivers" (sausage sizzles and free cups of tea put on by local charities to prevent driver fatigue). In the process, you get a real sense of the different sides of Australia.
4) It makes the trip a family adventure, rather than just a family holiday. But it's a really safe family adventure, and one that's relatively easily achievable - as safe as a road trip in any developed country. The time you spend together as a family on the journey is really special. Flying would be a holiday - and while you'll enjoy the rock, you miss out on that special sense of making a journey to the very centre of Australia. A toad trip like that is something you'll all remember for years to come.
For more images from our trip, visit here.