Terry | Feb 10, 2017 | 0
Driving to Uluru (Ayers Rock): Tips and Safety
If you’re looking for an epic roadtrip, then look no further than driving to Uluru. This outback roadtrip is without doubt the best way to get to Uluru, but you need to be prepared. Over 2 days and 1,000 miles, driving to Uluru will completely submerge you into the outback; you will arrive with a completely new perspective.
Below are our best tips for driving to Uluru.
Staying Safe while Driving to Uluru
Just to be clear, driving to Uluru is perfectly safe. However, by adhering to a few common sense rules you can eliminate even more risk.
We did this journey in the height of summer. This meant two things from a safety perspective: the road was quieter and temperatures were above 40°C. This is not great if you find yourself broken down; depending on the time of day you could be waiting over an hour for the next car to drive past. Given the remoteness, lack of phone reception and heat you need to be more prepared than usual. Along with your standard spare tyre kit you will need:
Running out of petrol is probably the most annoying, frustrating and preventable reason to break down whilst driving to Uluru. Here is a 3 step plan to not be that guy:
- Buy a 20ltr jerry can.
- Fill it up with that cheap coastal petrol.
- Put it into the car and forget.
There is no such thing as carrying too much water; we traveled with around 10 litres per person a day. As long as you have adequate water and stay on the main roads you will be found in time. If you breakdown without water, you may panic and make bad decisions, such as leaving your vehicle.
We have all seen the videos and stories of dogs locked in cars on a hot day. Well, that could be you if you can’t find or make any shade. If you’re travelling with a tent it should be relatively easy to fashion the rain fly into something useful. If not Emergency tarps are versatile, cheap and lightweight.
Driving in the dark
As I mentioned, the outback is pretty damn hot. This means most animals are active around dusk, dawn or during the night. Therefore I would avoid driving in the dark at all times in the outback. Your high beam will blind kangaroos and other animals making them extremely unpredictable.
Bonus fact: most car rental firm’s insurance will not cover you if you hit a kangaroo at night
However, if you want those great sunset or sunrise photos, driving at night may be unavoidable at Uluru. If you decide to drive in the dark then the Wildlife Rescue Emergency Service has soon great advice. In summary:
- Drive slow
- Don’t swerve
- Be more alert on bends, crests or shrubby areas
- Kangaroos move in mobs; if one comes across the road keep an eye out for more
Watch out for Animals
The Stuart Highway is littered with road kill. Not only is the journey full of kangaroos, emus and wallabies there is also a lot of unfenced farmland which is home to cows and sheep. Just skipping past how devastated you would be to kill a kangaroo (they are such cool animals), a crash would probably write off your car and could be fatal. Make sure you stay alert at all times and keep an eye out for animals on or near the road.
Did I mention it gets hot? If you want to be comfortable whilst driving to Uluru, ensure your air conditioning is working. Given that we only had a tent the car was the coolest place we had. Therefore we did all of our activities in the morning or night and drove during the midday heat.
Share the driving
If you plan on driving to Uluru in the minimum amount of time of 2 days, you should expect 8 hour days. This is far more enjoyable and much safer if you rotate the driving as well as having rest stops. One of the great joys of this drive is to just look around out of each window and see the horizon miles away in all directions. You probably should only do that as a passenger.
These can be over 50m long; use extreme caution when near them. If they are oncoming look out for oversized signs as some can be too wide for one lane and will take up some of yours. If you’re overtaking then make sure you have appropriate space. Some drivers will signal for you when it is safe to overtake but even then, do your own checks.
We found that petrol could be over 80cents higher a litre in the outback, almost double the cost. The cheapest petrol we found whilst driving to Uluru was at Port Augusta and Coober Pedy. Before driving back we visited Alice Springs, which was also relatively cheap. Depending on the size of your tank and MPG you may be able to avoid the most expensive petrol at places such as Ayers Rock Resort, Kings Canyon and Erldunda (the turning onto the Lasseter Highway). Jerry cans filled with cheaper petrol can be used at the more expensive places if a cheaper station is in range and on route.
We look forward to hearing your stories about driving to Uluru, leave them in the comments.