Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

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Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby ahmondjai » Mon 29 Apr, 2013 6:33 pm

Not sure whether this would be at the appropriate location, but since there's hiking within the plan, might ask the forum members on here.
I'm trying to put together a travel plan to N.T. visiting the Uluru, Kings Canyon in late May/early June.
Had anyone here been to them and what advise would you give?

The plan is to fly to Alice Springs then hire a camper-van there in the morning, drive to the Kings Canyon on day 1, stay at a campground for the first night, hike the Canyon on the 2nd day and return to the campground rest for the night.
Day 3 consist of driving to Uluru and register at the campground before heading out to Ayer's Rock for the sunset.
Day 4, Sunrise of Uluru and visit the Kata Tjuta in the day time and return for the 2nd sunset at the Uluru.
Day 5 would be the long drive from Uluru back to Alice Springs and camp near Alice Springs for the final night and prepare the camper-van for return in the morning and fly out of Alice Springs afterward.

Initial brief search for a camper-van returned as the "Mighty Double Up" option. 5 days would cost $462 ($5000 if anything happens to the vehicle) plus their "Stress Free Package"(nil liabilty) which would cost $234 for the duration. Totaling at $696.

What do you think of the itinerary and what advise(ie. Travel insurance company, choice of campgrounds, places worth a visit, etc. pretty much anything related to the trip) would you add onto it ?
Thanks in advance~
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby north-north-west » Mon 29 Apr, 2013 7:33 pm

Ahhhh, which route were you going to take to Watarrka? The Ernest Giles (unless things have changed dramatically since I was last up the Centre) is not a good idea unless you have - and know how to drive - a 4WD. Most of the road is just barely 2WDable - although slow, as it is quite possibly the worst corrugated road in the country - but there's a river crossing which can be fairly dodgy. It's usually dry, but that doesn't make it any easier, given the depth of the sand dunes.
The Mereenie Loop is a better route, but you need a permit to drive it (used to be free and really just a formality, but best to comply with the regs on this one). And (again, unless things have changed) you can only pick up the permit on the day you will be travelling. And no overnight stops are permitted.

As for sidetrips, on the Ernest Giles the Meteor Craters are worth a stop. On the Mereenie Loop, you'll first have to drive the length of the West MacDonnells, and there are plenty of stops along that road: Standley Chasm, Simpsons Gap, Ellery's, Serpentine, Ochre Pits, Glen Helen, Ormiston, Redbank & Rwetyepme. Plus Tnorala once you're on the Loop. It's great country and well worth more than just the one day to check out.
There's also more than just the one day's worth walking at Watarrka. There's the usual Canyon-top walk, including the drop into the Garden of Eden, the creek and canyon floor - which is negotiable all the way to the base of the falls below the Garden of Eden - and a wonderful walk along the scarp that can be extended for days if you want - although then you have to get back to the carpark.

Oh, and Kings Creek Station is better camping than the resort, although it's a bit further out. Plus they do chopper flights. Or at least they used to . . .
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby ahmondjai » Tue 30 Apr, 2013 12:30 am

I was originally planned to travel on the Larapinta Drive (which I originally thought it would be sealed, travelable and allowed by the hire company), but further research returned as opposite. I guess I'll have to take the longer drive on the Lasseter Highway and then head up on the Luritja Road at the Luritja junction (439km, 4hr 31min). but if I travel from the above mentioned route, Kings Creek Station should be closer than the resort itself (thinking positively~). both campgrounds has the same price at $21 for powered sites, time still allows for more researches on them both.

As for hiking the Canyons, would there be signs on the tracks (which I expect it would be since it's a highly recommended point of attraction)? I might try and hike the Rim walk and pay a visit to the waterhole this time, since I remember there's a photo of the Giles Track sign suggested it's a lengthy 22km 2 day, one way hike.

I appriated your input NNW, for such an outstanding amont of info you've enlighten me~
I would have no idea of the idea of what I'm heading into before your post~
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby Eremophila » Tue 30 Apr, 2013 10:57 pm

Investigate taking out a travel insurance policy, which "should" take care of the excess payable if something happens to the vehicle, and will avoid you having to pay an additional daily fee. It will also cover things like lost baggage, delayed flights ... but make sure it does cover the excess on the hire vehicle.

Most people now travel via Lasseter Hwy and Luritja Rd, although it means you have to double back a little when travelling to Uluru. If you're not experienced at driving on unsealed and remote roads, that would be the recommended option... and correct, most hire cars aren't covered for insurance on the Mereenie Loop. Please use a map and don't rely on SatNav!!! as happened to some friends of mine.

If you are going to walk the Giles Track, remember you will need to carry all of your water. And there is no mobile phone reception at Kings Canyon, last time I was there anyway. (4 yrs) The rim walk itself is well-signed and there will be plenty of people around at that time of year.

Stock up on your supplies before leaving Alice Springs - anything at Kings Canyon/Uluru is VERY expensive. And take a fly net.

If you are crossing into school holiday time, may be best to pre-book campsites at these destinations.

I would also highly recommend a couple more days with a trip from Alice Springs through the Western MacDonnells, on Larapinta Drive, as far as Glen Helen. I could not recommend that trip highly enough, it's stunning and Glen Helen is a lovely place to stay.

On your last morning, visit Olive Pink Botanic Gardens in Alice Springs for a tasty al fresco breakfast :D
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby Eremophila » Tue 30 Apr, 2013 10:58 pm

Investigate taking out a travel insurance policy, which "should" take care of the excess payable if something happens to the vehicle, and will avoid you having to pay an additional daily fee. It will also cover things like lost baggage, delayed flights ... but make sure it does cover the excess on the hire vehicle.

Most people now travel via Lasseter Hwy and Luritja Rd, although it means you have to double back a little when travelling to Uluru. If you're not experienced at driving on unsealed and remote roads, that would be the recommended option... and correct, most hire cars aren't covered for insurance on the Mereenie Loop. Please use a map and don't rely on SatNav!!! as happened to some friends of mine.

If you are going to walk the Giles Track, remember you will need to carry all of your water. And there is no mobile phone reception at Kings Canyon, last time I was there anyway. (4 yrs) The rim walk itself is well-signed and there will be plenty of people around at that time of year.

Stock up on your supplies before leaving Alice Springs - anything at Kings Canyon/Uluru is VERY expensive. And take a fly net.

If you are crossing into school holiday time, may be best to pre-book campsites at these destinations.

I would also highly recommend a couple more days with a trip from Alice Springs through the Western MacDonnells, on Larapinta Drive, as far as Glen Helen. I could not recommend that trip highly enough, it's stunning and Glen Helen is a lovely place to stay.

On your last morning, visit Olive Pink Botanic Gardens in Alice Springs for a tasty al fresco breakfast :D
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby GoForFun » Wed 01 May, 2013 12:14 am

Hello,

I am from Germany and have been to Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon. It is beautiful out there - especially the Watarrka National Park is absolutely stunning.The cliffs are up to 250m high and the vegetation in Kings Canyon is great! When I've been there about 3 years ago I wasn't very lucky because my camera broke down just before getting to the National Park and I didn't have the chance to get a new one. I was researching on this article http://www.in-australien.com/kings-canyon-watarrka-national-park_1021053 which shows photos of the scenery and also gives information about history, hikingtracks etc. (it is in German but you can use google translator to read it in English, although the translator doesn't give you a very good translation - but it's enough to get the content). Anyway, when I was there I did the exhousting but therefore really good Giles Track between Kathleen Springs and the southern part of Kings Canyon. You can also camp on the track because it's too long to do it in one day. I think it was more than 20 kilometers long. But if you go in Mai or June the temperatures should be fine I think. Although it may be pretty cold during the night - so always have a good sleeping bag!!!

Would be great to get a feedback after you've done the trip and I really recommend doing a hike - even if it's not a long one :)

Cheers
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby GPSGuided » Wed 29 May, 2013 10:22 pm

My family also has a trip booked up for Uluru/Kings Canyon at the end of June and we are planning to do lots of day walks across the 5-6 days we are at the Centre. Whilst getting all the gears ready, I can't quite work out the water requirement for those locations. Given it's winter, I presume the water demand will be a lot less. For 4-5 hours walks around King Canyon, Uluru and Olgas, how much water should I plan for? Anyone have any experiences with that time of the year to advice here? Thanks! BTW, will fly netting be required in winter?
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby ahmondjai » Fri 07 Jun, 2013 1:25 am

Just got back from the Indigenous land, the weather had been against my favor with not much sun I can recall on this trip.....
day high had remained at sub-20oC and night low got as low as 4.1oC (feels like) back in Alice area.
didn't have enough time for the planned Kings Canyon visit, so, have to have another go next time back to that lovely region.
and as for GPSGuided, the flies are definitely there except where strong wind is present.
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 09 Jul, 2013 7:00 pm

I am also back from the trip. Excellent walking at Kings Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta. As admondjai, it was cool to cold, water was not a worry on these day or half day walks in the area. As for flies. Surprisingly, they were only a problem at AYQ airport and out on some of the roadside locations (near cattle stations). Not an issue in Yulara, Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. No telling what they are like in the warmer months from my experience.
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby Travis22 » Tue 09 Jul, 2013 7:24 pm

Sounds like you had a great trip GPSG,

Shame i didnt catch your thread when you originally posted. My wife and i have explored the area a few times and are currently planning another visit, to some of the more remote locations in August this year.

Have you put together a trip report at all by any chance :) Would love to hear more about your travels.

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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby GPSGuided » Tue 09 Jul, 2013 9:01 pm

Hi Travis22. Yes, we had a great time. Being our first time there, we didn't get off those well worn paths but did tackle all the long walks on offer. With a family in tow, I unfortunately have not had the time to put together a detailed report but kept a photographic record of the trip. A few points off the top of my head...

- We were amazed by the grandness of the place and the lovely environment. The colours were just beautiful along with some memorable photos. We put the effort in to make best use of the photographic Golden Hour. We woke up early every morning for the sunrise (at different locations) and stayed late for the sunset (also different locations). A bit exhausting but was well repaid. Further, stayed well after sunset on two night to catch some astro photos. With the Milky Way behind a silhouette of Uluru, it was just fantastic. As expected, just about all tourists have missed this amazing scene of nature and space.

- The Valley of the Winds walk in Kata Tjuta was just amazing. But it was tough on my feet. My Keen brand boots was a bit too flexible for that coarse gravel track. Very comfortable on soft local bush tracks or fine gravels, but not there. Would definitely bring a pair of boots with stiffer sole next time.

- We had a 2WD rental car and drove part way down a dirt road, in an attempt to get to the back side of Mt Conner. But ended up chickening out as soft ruts of red dirt appeared. Next time will definitely plan for a 4WD (possibly a camper) of sort to allow us to explore more of those out of the way places.

- Advertised locations for the Uluru sunrises are all sub-optimal in winter. Next time I'll try to self-locate at a north-east position. That Uluru-Talinguru lookout is a good facility and allowed the capture of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta in the distance, but Uluru was largely in the shadow.

- Katherine Springs was closed in Watarrka NP due to last year's bush fire. That whole area was devastated with extension toward Kings Canyon Resort. It's firmly gated and no chance of even go close. By all accounts, it'll be a good while before the regrowth will complete and be re-opened for tourists.

- Would love to do the Mereenie Loop to the north of Kings Canyon and take it all the way to Alice Springs next time. On viewing a NT tourism video, we want to explore the West Macdonnell ranges and sections of the Larapinta track. The geological features there are just amazing.

- I loaded my GPS with various maps and found Shonky Full Topo was very good there. A lot more information than OSM. Whilst OSM is very good for the cities, major roads and well worn tracks, Shonky offered more local data eg. Old mines and many other potential areas of interest for us who are interested in exploration. I am still tossing up about OzTopo and its $200 cost. I suspect it'll offer even more and justify its price if I really went bush.

That's all for the time being. Hope it's of value to some.
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby north-north-west » Sun 03 Nov, 2013 1:23 pm

GPSGuided wrote:We had a 2WD rental car and drove part way down a dirt road, in an attempt to get to the back side of Mt Conner. But ended up chickening out as soft ruts of red dirt appeared.

Conner is on private land. Technically, there is no access without the station owners' permission. And the only tracks that get you to the one climbable stretch are 4WD.

- Would love to do the Mereenie Loop to the north of Kings Canyon and take it all the way to Alice Springs next time. .

The Mereenie Loop will probably be sealed within five years. The Jump-up has already been done, plus all but one 15-20km section of Namatjira Drive.
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby GPSGuided » Sun 03 Nov, 2013 1:59 pm

Thanks NNW! The dirt road running off from the highway didn't have a private property sign, so we went down a bit. Not familiar with how station owners demarcate their property, I did wonder.

Good to know about the Mereenie Loop upgrade. 5 years is about just right for a return visit.
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Re: Travel Plan to Uluru, Kings Canyon etc.

Postby north-north-west » Sun 03 Nov, 2013 3:32 pm

The road from the highway is a public through road, but it crosses private land and most of the side tracks are also private. If you get in far enough to find the Conner track, it's signposted as being for station use only.
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