A trip to the outback as part of your trip is essential and Ayers Rock Australia has to be the most famous place to visit.
This trip is a bit more of an adventure. It involves driving on unsealed roads, walking around some ancient and spiritual rock formations and seeing some of the outback wildlife.
There is however more to the red centre than the Rock and I strongly recommend you take in a couple more of the sites. Kings Canyon and the Olgas were actually more amazing for me than Ayers Rock. You should start off at Alice Springs and then road trip your way to Ayers Rock Australia via Kings Canyon.
Kings Canyon (pictured) is part of a sacred national park called Watarrka National Park. Don't venture off the walking tracks to respect the local aborginal customs.
Ayers RockAustralia is also know as Uluru, so named by the Anangu traditional aboriginal owners. It's an Australian icon and the sand formation is a staggering 348m high.
It is also supposed to change colour as the different light strikes it at different times of the day.
Whilst you can climb the rock, it is totally discouraged due to Aboriginal beliefs and customs. Please show some respect - don't walk on the rock.
The Olgas are not far from Ayers Rock Australia and are also known as Kata Tjuta. I found the walk around them really special.
How long to go for
You could do Ayers Rock Australia in just a couple of days.
But I'd recommend starting out from Alice Springs and taking a leisurely drive through the red centre to Ayers Rock.
To do it properly, you need 5 days.
When to go
You can visit Uluru and the red Centre throughout the year.
The summer months are however VERY HOT. This can make it quite uncomfortable for walking around some of the sites.
Be prepared for lots of flies too. Most people invest in a hat with a fly net to keep them off your face.
The winter can be quite interesting. The rock is claimed to turn green when it rains! It can get quite cold at night though so probably not best to camp.
Many complain that getting to Ayers Rock Australia and the Red Centre is expensive. Part of that is due to the flights, as Qantas are the only airline to fly here so there is no competition to keep the prices low.
That said, if you book well in advance, you can get some cheap flights. I'd recommend flying into Alice Springs and out of Ayers Rock.
If you have the money however, I'd strongly consider flying into Uluru and then doing the journey up to Alice Springs. From here you can catch the amazing Ghan train to either Darwin or Adelaide.
Hit the road - Alice Springs to Glen Helen (130km)
Stop off at Simpsons Gap,Standley Chasm, Ellery Creek Big Hole andOrmiston Gorge
Hit the road - Glen Helen to Kings Canyon, Mereenie Loop Road(260km)
Stop off at Redbank Gorge and Tinorala (big crater hole) on the way but leave enough time for a walk at Kings Canyon.
There are two walks at the Canyon - 6km and 2.6km. The Rim walk (6km) is better but the first bit is quite hard going so only do this walk if you have a reasonable level of fitness.
Hit the road - Kings Canyon to Ayers Rock Australia (300km)
Get to the rock in time for sunset.
You can either take a glass of bubbly with you and watch the sun go down from the viewing platform. National Park entry fee of $25 per person applies and is valid for 3 days.
Or you can book ahead and do the sounds of silence dinner where you get to watch the sunset and have a BBQ and wine/beer ($155 per person all inclusive)
Explore the Rock and Olgas
You can do the base walk at Ayers Rock Australia. It reckons 4 hours to do the walk but we did it in 2 hours stopping frequently. I'd actually pick a section and walk a bit of it before heading to the Olgas.
My only bit of advice is to make sure you leave enough time to get over to the Olgas for the 7km Valley of the Winds Walk. I found this much better than the base walk around the Ayers Rock Australia.
The Valley of the winds Walk closes at 11am if the weather gets too hot so get there early.
Where to stay
The red Centre is a bit limited on accommodation but there is something to suit every budget.
There's plenty around in Alice Springs but the other recommended stop offs (Glen Helen, Kings Canyon and Uluru) each have one resort with a variety of options within them - from camping to 5 star hotels.
It means that prices are a bit on the expensive side due to the lack of competition. I was disappointed with what we got for our money at Uluru. Go with the expectation of it being a bit over priced and I think you will be happy.
Unless you are coming in summer, I'd really recommend waiting until 3-4 weeks before and booking through www.wotif.com.
You are more likely to get a better room rate. You might not however get your first choice. If you like everything planned and booked though - just book it early!