How to Get the Best Photograph of Uluru

You’ve seen photographs and films, but nothing compares to the sensation of gazing upon Uluru with your own two eyes.

This monolithic sacred rock gives off a sense of majestic power as it dominates the horizon, changing with the shifting light as the sun moves across the sky. When you visit you’ll want to capture your own experience of this incredible beauty with your camera, so here are some tips for getting the best possible Uluru photo.

What Time of Day?

Uluru is beautiful at all times of the day, as the light and shadow on the rock will change and give the scene a different mood. It’s worth viewing the rock from as many vantage points as you can during several different times of the day, so that you can get the best range of photos.

If you are hoping to capture the classic picture postcard view of Uluru, head there at sunset. This is when the sun will be reflect off the rock and it will have that stunning warm orange glow that fades to a deep red. Most people set up their tripods at the sunset viewing car park, so if you want to have your pick of the best spot you should try to arrive about an hour before the sun starts going down.

You can set up your chair and your tripod and bring a few snacks to enjoy as you watch the sun sinking below the horizon. Remember, you must exit the park before sunset, which is at 7:30pm in the winter.

Sunrise is the other best time to photograph this amazing rock. There is a viewing platform called Talinguru Nyakunytjaku located closer to the Olgas which is around 20 minutes drive into the park. You’ll be facing Uluru into the sunrise and when you turn around the Olgas will be bathed in light from the sunrise. Another great sunrise photographing location is the Ewing Lookout which is located near the camel farm. Bring a jacket – it will be cold before the sun comes up.

uluru erldunda roadhouse photography

Technical Tips: How to Photograph the Rock

The natural instinct when photographing this rock is to use a wide angle lens, which can help you include everything you see in one photo. However, if you go back far enough this might not be necessary. Experiment with a few different lenses so that you can capture both Uluru and the desert around it – you may need to zoom in from some of the viewing platforms.

However, never change your lens while you are out in the desert! The blowing sand can damage the inside of the camera, so always wait until you are back in the hotel to change it.

Photographing in the early morning or late evening will make the light feel softer in your photographs, which can give the rock a stunning glow and bring out the colours. It is a good idea to use a tripod if you are using a slow shutter speed during this time of day.

Whenever you are photographing in a hot and dry desert setting, it is very important to take care of your camera. The wind will blow the sand so keep your camera wrapped in a cloth or in a protective case when you are not using it. A UV filter on the lens can help you to protect the glass, as it is cheaper to protect the filter than to repair a scratched lens glass. Take an air blower so that you can clean out your camera at your hotel room at the end of the day.

You might also want to bring a fly net, as the flies in your face can be very distracting when you are attempting to take a photo. Don’t forget the sunscreen, hat, sunglasses and plenty of water – it’s sweltering hot in the desert.

Try photographing Uluru and its surroundings with HDR, or High Dynamic Range Photography. This style can be best for capturing dark shadows, bright sunshine and intense colours. It is a strategy for overcoming the dynamic range limits of your camera by combining multiple images of the same scene.

Each image is exposed differently, so that you can use the highlight details from one and the shadow details from another. You can do this by taking multiple exposures and blending them together with software such as Adobe Photoshop. Here is a great guide on how to do this.

Getting a Unique Photo

So you’ve captured the typical view of Uluru, but what if you want to take a few photos that are a little more creative? Be inventive and approach the subject from a different angle so that you can get a unique photo of Uluru and the surrounding landscape:

  • Pay attention to the natural patterns in the sand dunes or the rocks. Use a macro lens to focus on these textures.
  • Include people in your photos to give the rock a sense of scale and to create a point of focus for the viewer’s eye.
  • Change the position of the horizon line. It doesn’t have to be in the middle of the frame. Try playing the rock and the horizon at the bottom of the image and including lots of sky, or vice versa.
  • Try shooting from the opposite side as everyone else. So, at sunset head to the sunrise platform or go to the sunset viewing platform at sunrise. You’ll avoid the crowds and get a shot of Uluru as a silhouette against the changing colours of the sky.
  • Take a sunset camel ride for a chance to snap photos of Uluru and the desert landscape with these strange and elegant beasts in the foreground.

Don’t Climb It

Even if you are seeking an exciting angle for a photograph, whatever you do you should not climb Uluru. First of all, it is dangerous. Over 30 people have died climbing the rock in recent decades due to the heat and the lack of water. Also, the rock itself is a sacred site and climbing it is disrespectful to the Aboriginal people of the area.

Remember that this is a national park so roaming around and walking through the off-path areas is not allowed. Also, there are certain sacred areas and features of the rock you should not photograph, as they are sacred to the aboriginal people. If you aren’t sure, ask your local guide.

If you are an amateur photographer and you don’t plan on selling your images, then you are free to photograph the area without a permit. If you are a professional photographer, you will need to obtain a permit through the Media Office by filling out an application form. The guidelines will explain clearly which areas are restricted for photographs.

Have you photographed Uluru? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

Discover Wycliffe Well – The UFO Capital of Australia

Mysterious flashing lights – and a great selection of beer too.

If it weren’t for the strange phenomena that make it special, Wycliffe Well would simply be like any other small roadside stop in Australia’s Outback.

However, it’s so much more than that. This odd little outpost has attracted curious visitors from all over the world with its reputation as the “UFO Capital of Australia.”

Alien Outpost in the Red Centre

Wycliffe Well is a pit-stop between the towns of Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, where many people stop for gas on their long drive through the Outback. It began as a watering point along the stock route for the Overland Telegraph Line in the 1860s. It became popular as it was the only place for miles that offered decent food and lodging for the workers on this large project.

During WWII it was a market garden centre for the troops and its visitors were mostly military personnel. As the highway was further developed after the war it became a stop where travellers refuelled on petrol and provisions. The town has very few permanent residents, but it receives many travellers throughout the year.

Kitschy outer-space decorations have been placed all over the town, including two model aliens out the front of the Wycliffe Well Holiday Park. The park covers nearly 60 acres and it includes a large lake, ideal for relaxing and fishing. From Wycliffe Well you can head out to explore many of the natural wonders in the nearby area, including Davenport Range National Park and Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve (a natural wonder with spiritual significance to the local indigenous people).

A Long History of Curious Sights

So how did the connection to extraterrestrials begin? During the Second World War the servicemen who lived in Wycliffe Well stated to keep records of the strange objects they had seen in the night sky, writing their observations in a binder. Someone found this book and got pretty excited about the odd goings on it contained. There were so many sightings that the Royal Australian Air Force conducted its own investigation.

For years the original journal was kept on the front counter of the local restaurant for everyone to peruse, but it was stolen in 1990. A new book was established, containing reports of sightings from the early 1990s onwards. The restaurant is also decorated with several newspaper clippings and images that just might persuade you into believing in extra-terrestrials.

For example, in a 2003 excerpt from the guestbook Lisa from Cairns wrote that she saw a “light in the sky going at a steady pace, which kept going until we couldn’t see it.” She insists that the light wasn’t easy to explain and that she wasn’t the only one who saw it. “A truck driver behind me saw it as well,” she said, “It was a UFO, not a falling star or a comet.” Another entry from 2004 by Brad from Western Australia states that he “saw a silver cigar shaped object moving across the sky in a very erratic motion, then it disappeared. Both me and my mom saw it.”

These are just a few of many UFO accounts that have been reported in this specific part of Australia. Other visitors have described unidentified crafts that are square, rectangular and cigar shaped and even some that shift in size and shape. They have been spotted with flashing and pulsating lights and in a range of colours, from red to green to orange.

Whether or not you believe in this sort of thing, it’s fascinating and a little eerie to hear so many stories of unexplained lights in the sky and other phenomena.

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Why Do UFOS Congregate Here?

Lou Farkus, the owner of Wycliffe Well Holiday Park, explains that the sky is filled with “Ley Lines” which act like highways for the UFOs to follow. This town is located on the converging point of many intersecting ley lines, which is why so many UFOs are seen there. Also, this is one of the flattest spots in the region. With an enormous sky stretching around to the horizon in all directions, it is easy to spot any strange goings-on above.

According to a local brochure, UFO sightings are so common here that you would be “unlucky not to see anything.” The Sun Herald ranked Wycliffe Well 5th for the top reported UFO activity in the entire world. It is speculated that the sightings may have something to do with vehicles that are being tested at the Woomera Prohibited Area, which is located nearby on the Stuart Highway. This mysterious area is known as the “Area 51” of Australia.

Hot Days and Starry Nights

When you visit Wycliffe Well, be prepared for intense heat as well as UFO sightings. The summers are intense and the sweltering temperatures can be around 35 degrees – the air conditioning in the holiday park is a relief.

While you are scanning the skies for aliens, you will also likely notice the stunning sunrises and sunsets in Wycliffe Well. The Northern Territory is known for its enormous and dramatic skies, so get up early or get outside in the late evening and watch the sky fade through a range of striking shades. Due to the lack of light pollution the night sky is painted thick with stars, a dazzling sight even without any unidentified flying objects.

Hide from a potential alien abduction in the local restaurant, where you can while away the evening tasting one of the largest selections of beer in the Northern Territory. There are about 300 different labels to choose from when the restaurant is fully stocked, so you are sure to find a refreshing brew that you will enjoy.

Try a few beers you have never heard of before and have a chat with the warm and friendly locals. Chances are that you will end up staying out longer than you intended, singing along with country and western tunes late into the night. Some say that it is the abundance of beers that leads to many of the so-called UFO sightings in this area – but you can be the judge of that yourself.

star gazing ufo sighting eldunda roadhouse

The Ultimate Guide to a Red Centre Road Trip

The middle of Australia might be pretty empty – but it’s full of adventure.

The night sky is stuffed with stars, the tiny towns are overflowing with history and the journey across this big red desert is rich with opportunities for side trips and diversions. Taking a drive through these wide open spaces will give you a chance to see Australia at its wildest, spot some creatures in their natural habitat and meet some fascinating characters along the way.

The Red Centre is the nickname given to the Southern Desert region of the Northern Territory in Australia. The name describes the unique red colour of the soil, due to oxidized iron. The main town is Alice Springs, an oasis in the very middle of nowhere. There is an airport in Alice Springs with connecting flights to Darwin, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth and Adelaide – so you can fly directly into the region and start your trip from here.

This remote region is the home of Uluru, the most iconic monolith of Australia’s outback. You haven’t really experienced Australia until you have seen this sacred geological phenomenon. It is also where the oldest living culture on earth, the Arrernte Aboriginal people, have made their home for more than 50,000 years. On your trip you can experience the aboriginal culture and learn about the traditions that are still kept alive today.

Give yourself plenty of time on your road trip across the Red Centre, you’ll want to have the freedom to stop along the way and explore what this vast region has to offer.
Driving The Red Centre

The remoteness of this area and the huge distances between each outpost means that you will need to prepare well for your road trip. Check the weather forecast before leaving home and plan your stop so that you arrive at fuel stops when they are open. There are services at around every 200 km along the highway but they are not all open 24 hours.

It is a good idea to get fuel at every fuel stop you see, just to make sure that you have enough to make it to the next stop. Also, it gives you a chance to get out of the car and look around at the beautiful landscape around you. Make sure that you bring plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated in the desert heat as well as protection from the harsh sun.


Explorers Way (Driving Trip)

The Explorers Way is a stunning drive that will take you from a mild coastal Mediterranean climate in the south through the vast and arid desert to tropical climates in the north. It covers a distance of 3016 kilometres and will take you all the way from Adelaide to Alice Springs. The Royal Flying Doctor Service uses the highway as an emergency landing strip – sections of the road are closed by the police sometimes so that planes can land.

The trip can be done in two and a half days, but you will want to give yourself much more time than this so that you can visit the many interesting stops along the way.

The Clare Valley is a beautiful wine region that you will drive through as you leave Adelaide. Stop for a wine tasting at Sevenhill Cellars, which was established by Jesuit Priests in 1851. Enjoy the lovely and green landscapes of this region before you head into the harsher outback.

As you leave the Clare Valley you’ll head out into wide open spaces rich with history. Visit the gorgeous village of Mintaro or the copper town of Burra. Don’t miss Wilpena Pound, an amazing 52 square mile crater like formation, and the Aboriginal cave paintings at Arkaroo Rock. Check out Peterborough in the Southern Flinders which was an important crossroads for the nation.

You can also stop to see the unique “underground town” of Coober Pedy, where 95% of the opal in Australia is mined. Consider taking a side trip to the Painted Desert, where you can see the stunning colours of the rock formations. If you take a side trip to the Brachina Gorge Trail you’ll see amazing fossil imprints that revealed to scientists that life began approximately 500 million years earlier than they originally theorised.

Stuart Highway (Driving Trip)

Considered one of the world’s great drives, this journey is named after Scottish explorer John McDouall Stuart who made several excursions into the inland of Australia in the 1850s and 1860s. He was the first man to successfully cross Australia from south to north on foot and to make it back alive. The expedition took him nine months going north and five months getting back and he did it without a permanent source of water for the stretch between Port Augusta and the Katherine River.

The Stuart Highway is well maintained and it begins in Port Augusta, 305 km north of Adelaide. It stretches 2711 km all the way to Darwin, an incredibly long drive through the many different climate zones of Australia. It is sometimes simply referred to as “The Track.”

The landscapes you will be driving through are incredibly barren and empty of humanity except for the occasional fuel stop or road house. Eventually it will take you far enough north to find water, but watch out for the saltwater crocodiles that hang out in the rivers, lakes and creeks. In the Adelaide River near the small town of Humpty Doo you can take a riverboat cruise and watch the tour operator attract crocodiles by dangling meat over the side.

Don’t miss the chance to stop in the town of Daly Waters to have a meal and a few drinks at the famous Daly Waters Pub. This Outback waterhole is legendary and all of the walls within are covered in t-shirts, underwear and banknotes donated by the international cast of patrons from all over the world. It’s a great place to have a drink and chat to someone from the other side of globe about how you ended up here in the middle of nowhere.

The Stuart Highway driving trip is a journey into the beautiful and bizarre alien-like landscape of Australia’s Outback. Driving through this spectacular nothingness gives you a humbling sense of the sheer vastness of Australia.

Alice Springs

Alice Springs is considered the heart of Australia and it is the hub of the Red Centre region. It is the only town with a sizeable population, as the only other civilisation in this region is within very small communities. It is surrounded by desert landscapes, canyons and gorges and remote Aboriginal communities.

In this remote outpost you can visit the Desert Park, which is a combination of botanic gardens and wildlife reserve. You can also climb to the top of Anzac Hill and admire the view over the town and the MacDonnell Ranges.

Erldunda Roadhouse

When it comes to visiting the iconic Uluru you could stay in the expensive accommodation near the rock, or you could make Erldunda your base and save money. This roadhouse is located at the intersection of Stuart and Lasseter Highway and it offers old fashioned hospitality with clean and comfortable facilities and delicious home cooking.

The advantage of staying at Erldunda is that you will be only a 2-3 hour drive from Uluru so that you can easily take a day trip from there to see this amazing natural wonder. The roadhouse has 12 rooms for backpackers, 47 motel units, a swimming pool, a camping site, powered caravan sites and a restaurant.

While you are there you can check out the Emu Enclosure, where you will be able to feed these fascinating birds. The resort even has a specially build sunset viewing platform where you can watch the sky come alive with brilliant colours over the vast bushland.