As a special birthday surprise Cooper and I spent 4 days exploring the outback and seeing Uluru ( Ayers Rock) for the first time. It was more than just an adventure it was a time to spend together and reconnect. We learnt a lot about each other and I am really proud of how flexible and adventurous Cooper is and how when away from the routine of life that I could relax and really enjoy our special time together.
We will never forget seeing the giant rock from the aeroplane as we flew into Yalara. It is truly spectacular and a must add to your bucket list!
Where: Yulara. (463kms from Alice Springs)
Airport: Connellan (20 min drive to Uluru)
Flight: We flew Jetstar from Melbourne. Approx 2.5/3 hr flight. Sign up to their newsletter to get notification of flight specials. We got 2 flights for $350 return. When booking your ticket tick wheelchair services if needed. At both ends you walk out onto the tarmac so ground staff were there with the lift to the plane door.
Free bus to your booked accommodation. Car Hire available. Walk out the doors and turn right and jump on the bus! ( Coopers wheelchair was stowed underneath and he was assisted up the steps)
Cooper sums up Sails as the friendliest place he has ever been to. We had the most amazing time and I can’t thank them enough for making Coopers 4 days the best “festival of Cooper” he has ever had!
We stayed at Sails in the Desert. There are a variety of accommodation available. For a family and self catering I would choose Emu Walk apartments. We chose Sails being that it was just Cooper and I, a special occasion and wheelchair accessible.
(Accommodation wise Sails in the Desert Hotel has 11 assisted rooms, Desert Gardens Hotel has 10, the Lost Camel Hotel has four and Outback Pioneer Hotel has three. Always best to call and have a chat with the hotel staff to gain better insight into their facilities too)
We had an accessible ground floor room. Our room had two double beds. The beds were the best beds we have ever slept on! The bathroom was a wetroom with wheel in shower. Handrails, mixer tap ( with pull down hose) and fold down seat. The toilet had a handrail on the right.
Often accommodation has an accessible room but not all areas are accessible. Cooper could access every part of the resort easily with ramped walkways to the dining options, gallery, theatre and town square. The only thing I noticed that wasn’t accessible were the small step up to the outdoor bathroom by the pool. There is an accessible bathroom next to the restaurant.
We enjoyed an included buffet breakfast each morning. Coopers favourite was everything!
Each accommodation has its own restaurants and variety of eating places. There are over 15 to choose from. The free shuttle can take you and you can charge it back to your room. In the town centre we enjoyed dinner takeaway at Ayers Wok. ( great Pad Thai) For self catering there is an IGA supermarket in the town centre. Bring remote prices reflect this.
For a special treat try the dinner buffet at Ilkari at Sails. It was so great that Cooper requested it twice. Bookings are essential.
Cost: Adults $69 and kids under 12 dine free of charge.
Along with visiting Uluru and exploring the Rock there are some great free activities to enjoy right in the resort in Yulara. It is the perfect place to learn more about the local Indigenous culture and engage in local stories and meet new people. You do not need to book just walk up and join in.
The Resort runs a free shuttle service from 10.30am and stops at all the accommodations and the Camel Farm when requested. The shuttle bus is wheelchair accessible. It has a ramp that the driver can fold out and there are two wheelchair spots on the bus with seatbelts. We found all the drivers and staff very helpful and supportive with Coopers chair.
We loved hearing the stories from Leroy as he shared information about Indigenous weapons and tools that were used when hunting. We were able to hold the weapons and the experience was very engaging and interactive.
Where: Circle of Sand ( just in front of the town centre area)
When: 11am until 2pm each day
Duration: 30 mins.
We were excited to learn about the local flora and how it is used for medicine and food. Leroy once again had us all engaged as he told us about eucalyptus leaves and their oil used for inhaling to relieve breathing difficulty. Leroy is an amazing story teller with great theatrics and a great sense of humour.
Where: Sails in the Desert and Desert Garden Hotel
Duration: 40 minutes.
You can also do a self guided walk with a booklet from your hotel but we highly recommend a guided tour as its so much more engaging and insightful.
Wintijiri Arts and Museum
Explore the Indigenous art gallery with a variety of exhibitions. We loved learning about the local geology, fauna and culture.
Where: Winjitiri Arts and Museum ( Desert gardens Hotel)
When : 830-5pm
Duration: at your own pace.
We really enjoyed the 40 minute dreamtime performance held at the Arkani theatre. The presentation is a combination of live theatre and moving images and 3D effects. It tells the story through an Indigenous artists eyes about an Eagle, Crow and Cockatoo.
Where: Arkani theatre. ( Desert Gardens Hotel just by the Museum)
When: 11am Wed-Sunday
Wheelchair accessible with one spot in the back row. ( steps down to other rows)
If you are interested in learning more about the night sky pop into the Astro hub and have a look at the great telescopes on display and have a chat with the team who run the night sky tours. There are also some little robotic toys to play with. Good spot to escape the heat for a little bit.
Where: Outback Pioneer Hotel
When 12-3 each day
Wheelchair accessible ( it is a small space inside )
Entry to the camel farm is free and you are welcome to have a look around the sheds and paddocks. There is loads of memorabilia on the walls to enjoy too. Watch the camels eating, see all the saddles that are made onsite and visit the kangaroo and water buffalo.
The Camel Farm run extra tours for sunrise and sunset. We loved our little 15 minute ride which is perfect for kids over 5.
Where: Camel Farm ( this is on Resort Grounds)
When : 9-1 in the Summer heat.
Wheelchair access : The ground is red sand which was okay with Coopers wheelchair. A power chair would struggle. There are also small steps up and out of the main shed but you could walk around the back to see the camels. There is a small flight of steps up to the camels to ride them.
Sunrise/Sunset at the Resort
There are also some great lookout points within the resort to enjoy a great view of Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta. Sunrise and Sunset being the most popular times. The paths are often sandy and very hard to push a wheelchair with thin small wheels. The lookout just opposite the Town Centre seemed the firmest and we got to the top easily except for the last 4 big steps to reach the lookout.
We enjoyed the sunset view from here very much.