Sunset is my favorite time of day, when the light goes soft and the world glows just before going to sleep. I desperately wanted to see an Uluru sunset, but grappled with the idea of fighting crowds to do it.
For a while I was ready to drop $200 (each!) on the Sounds of Silence, a fancy outdoor dinner with a sumptuous buffet and bottomless wine. Diners are seated on a raised viewing platform overlooking Uluru. It sounded enticing, but the price tag was too much for me in the end; I was prepared to be part of the crowd in the car park.
We left the Ayers Rock Resort campground at 5pm and arrived at Uluru’s sunset viewing area fifteen minutes later. The car park was already heaving in preparation for a 6:09pm sunset. Fortunately there were still some empty spots, so we pulled into one that directly faced Uluru and got comfortable.
The car park was buzzing with activity, like a weird tailgating session. People sat on car roofs with tripods, a tour guide arranged champagne glasses on a picnic bench, and families posed in front of Uluru for their highly-anticipated shot with the Australian icon.
Jared started cooking pasta arrabiata in the back of the car while I climbed on top of it to take pictures. The atmosphere was friendly, with strangers offering to take photos of each other, enjoying a moment that many people have had on their bucket list for a long time.
As the sun descended towards the horizon, Uluru lit up. I remain forever fascinated by how different the rock looks depending on the time of day and where you’re standing. The sunset brought out so many shades of color, and Uluru changed subtly by the minute.
As promised, the sun disappeared at 6:09. One minute later—one minute!—cars started driving out of the parking lot, a snaking line of headlights and tail lights. I was blown away by the speed at which it cleared out, leaving us and a handful of other cars to watch the dramatic finish.
We ate our arrabiata, a tasty budget version of the Sounds of Silence that I didn’t regret one bit. By the time we left, there was no traffic at all. Despite the initial crowds and the fact that I was sitting in a car park, it will go down as one of my most memorable sunsets.
Going to Uluru at sunset?
- The Uluru car sunset viewing area is where you’ll get views like the ones pictured in this post.
- The sunrise viewing area (Talinguru Nyakunytjaku) is bigger and allegedly less crowded, but keep in mind that from this perspective, Uluru will be in silhouette at sunset.
- Drive through the viewing areas during the day when they’re not crowded to suss out your options and get an idea of where you’d like to park. Plus you’ll get great daytime views of Uluru!
- We arrived an hour before sunset during the busy season and that was enough time to snag a spot.
- If you have time, stay after the sun sets. You’ll get to see the light change even more and avoid traffic.
- An Uluru-Kata Tjuta park pass is required to enter the park. It can be purchased at the gate, costs $25 per person, and is valid for 72 hours.
- For more information on visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, see here.