Free camping near Uluru or Ayers Rock. Is it possible? I recently travelled to the Red Centre in my Kombi and I’ve compiled this blog from my own camping experience. I’ve included information about various camping options. If there’s any information that I’ve missed, or anything that’s outdated please leave a comment below!
I’m Melissa (Liss) Connell and this is my personal travel blog. The Slow Lane chronicles my Aussie adventures in my 1974 Kombi, with my furry sidekick Sandy. As the co-founder of Exploring Eden Media, I write articles (and post our books) as I travel. Check the postage stamp on your book order and you’ll see where I am right now!
Covering over 327,414 acres of Australia’s desert is the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. There’s much to see inside the park including Uluru (Ayers Rock) and the many-domed Kata Tjuṯa (The Olgas). The drive to Uluru begins with the turn-off west from the Stuart Highway at Erldunda onto the Lasseter Highway. This is a fully sealed 244km highway that connects Yulara, Kata Tjuta and Uluru.
Camping on the road in to Uluru (Lasseter Highway)
We were hoping to make it to the Mt. Ebenezer Roadhouse, but we arrived late in the day to find it closed down. As in, nobody around at all. We continued for about another hour and realised we wouldn’t make it to Yulara before dark and it may be dangerous to continue on (old car + wildlife + darkness = danger). We discovered a roadside rest area with about a dozen cars that had pulled up, some with small campfires. This is where we pulled up for the night. While I didn’t take note of the exact co-ordinates at the time, I believe that this is the one, the Luritja sign rest stop. GPS -25.172066, 132.180559.
As noted on the aforementioned website, rest areas aren’t designed to be camping grounds or caravan parks. You can’t use rest areas for multiple overnight stays as part of a planned itinerary. There were no facilities and we were out of there early the next morning.
Price per night: Free
*** Edit 17 Sept 2019 – Curtin Springs have contacted us with the following information: “Camping in the road corridor is actually illegal. A lot of visitors think they can simply pull off the road where-ever they wish to set up camp. That is not correct. We would ask all visitors to understand and respect that the vast majority of the land you are travelling through in Central Australia is privately owned. Please stay only in the structured campsites, where it specifically says you can camp. No sign means that it is not allowed. That includes NOT going over the sandhill at the back of the rest areas. Please do not drive down any of the tracks off the main roads. If you do, then you are on private property – whether that is indigenous owned or a cattle station – it is all still private property. ***
Red dirt roads off the Lasseter H’way
Driving east from Yulara along the Lasseter Highway you’ll notice quite a few red dirt roads leading off the bitumen and into the sand dunes. We explored down a couple of these dirt roads, some of which have amazing views of Uluru. There were signs of people camping, but we decided against staying in the dunes. Much of this land is indigenous owned and they prefer that you stay at designated camp spots. The spot pictured below was about 10km east along the highway from the turn-off to Yulara.
Price per night: Free
Curtin Springs Roadhouse
This working cattle station and roadhouse is located about 100km from the Ayers Rock/Olgas National Park, on the Lasseter Highway. There are powered and unpowered campsites, plus homestyle meals. Unpowered sites are free, but showers are $3 as water is in short supply here. BYO firewood if you want to have a campfire.
Price per night: Free
Camping at Yulara township
Ayers Rock Campground
Located only 15km from Uluru is Voyages Ayers Rock Campground. Pre-bookings are vital, especially during the high season. The pro’s – it’s close to Uluru and the main shopping area of Yulara. The con’s – it’s busy. The campground was completely booked when I arrived so they offered a spot in their overflow for $30. Needless to say, there are no other campgrounds nearby. Book early for a powered site.
Price per night: From $30
Further afield – King’s Canyon (Watarrka)
There are two campgrounds near King’s Canyon (Watarrka). Note that King’s Canyon is roughly 3 hours drive from Uluru. King’s Canyon Resort has powered sites for $25 pp / per night and unpowered $20 pp / per night and then there’s King’s Creek Station. Located 36km from the canyon, King’s Creek has an almost 5 star rating on Trip Advisor, which says a lot in this day of age. Campsites are $22 pp unpowered / $25.50 pp powered. BYO firewood.
Price per night: From $20
Drop back from time-to-time as I continue my journey to the Kimberley, Western Australia (I will upload more blogs – read them all here). And please – if any of the information has changed or if you know of more great spots, please leave them in the comments below 🙂