Yulara, the tourism settlement located just adjacent to the central Australian rock formations of Uluru
and Kata Tjuta, is too small to be termed a town. Rather, it's a collection of accommodation providers – and housing for the staff who will assist you during your stay in Australia's red centre – with a tiny shopping center at its middle.
During my recent trip to Australia's "spiritual" centre,
I was lucky enough to stay at the Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge, part of the larger Ayers Rock Resort that acts as the centerpiece of Yulara's lodging properties.
In addition to providing a wider range of accommodation options than any of the other exclusively upscale properties in the area, the Outback Pioneer has a relaxed, summer camp sort of ambiance, a chill environment unsecured by its extremely close proximity its namesake Australian outback. Although there is nothing particularly "gay" about the property, the friendly staff you find through the Outback Pioneer makes guests from all walks of life feel welcome and at home.
Location of Outback Pioneer and Transport Options
As I mentioned before, Yulara is small, so you won't experience any ambiguity when locating the Outback Pioneer – it's one of the only human settlements in the area! The Outback Pioneer operates a complimentary shuttle to assist you in getting to the hotel and lodge from the airport, which is just 10 minutes away.
There is also a shuttle to take you from the Outback Pioneer to other important places in Yulara, such as the small shopping center located nearby, other hotel and resort properties in the area and even to the Uluru Camel Tours camel farm. Feeling adventurous? Take a quick hike through the outback to any of these places, all of which are located within walking distance of the Outback Pioneer.
Camping and Accommodation at Outback Pioneer
The Outback Pioneer is officially a "hotel and lodge" but the truth is that most of the accommodation offered here is not of the standard hotel sort. Got a tent or want to rent one? Check out the Outback Pioneer's on-site campground, where campsites and access to toilets and showers can be had at bargain rates, especially for Australia's expensive centre.
If you want to enjoy the comforts of a mattress, sheets and air-conditions, four- to twenty-person dormitory options are available starting from $36 per night. For those traveling with family or solo travelers who prefer privacy, private hotel-room style options are even available for slightly more.
Outback Pioneer Services and Amenities
No matter which of the many Outback Pioneer accommodation options you choose, certain services and amenities are included as part of the price. These include access to on-site toilet, shower and laundry facilities, as well as complimentary use of the guest kitchen. Obviously, you need always clean up after yourself.
Feel like a swim? You can take one in the crystal-clear pool that sits at the heart of the property. The "Outback" in the name isn't just local kitsch – pristine views of Uluru, Kaja Tjuta and the entire red, sandy Australian outback are just a few minutes' walking from anywhere on the site, thanks to the sand dune viewing deck located behind the Outback Pioneer.
Optionally, you can have an unlimited breakfast or Australian BBQ dinner buffet in the restaurant, located approximately halfway between the dorm rooms and the campground. For those who are less hungry or who want to save – as of the time of publication, the buffet breakfast and dinner options ran $31 and $54, respectively – you can buy your own meat at the BBQ bar and grill it yourself. Whether you order meat a la carte or the "Aussie Outback Combo," which includes kangaroo, crocodile, emu, buffalo and beef, unlimited salad bar is included in the price.
Optional Excursions and Activities
Of course, you don't come all the way to the Northern Territory just to chill in a hotel room, as nice a prospect as the Outback Pioneer makes that sound. You can book tours from the likes of Uluru Express and AAT Kings to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and King's Canyon right at Outback Pioneer's front desk or at the dedicated tour desk, when it's open.
If you're craving something a little out of the ordinary, take the shuttle to the "Uluru Camel Tours" farm and book a camel ride,
be it a short 15-minute ride or a longer one at sunrise or sunset. Speaking of sunset, do check out the "Sounds of Silence" dinner option, which allows you to experience an Aussie BBQ buffet dinner under the sparkling outback stars.
The bottom line is this: No matter how much or little you want to spend or do when you're in Australia's centre, there's a place for you at the Outback Pioneer Hotel and Lodge. Is it a gay mecca? Very far from it. But with how red the surrounding sands tend to be, the Northern Territory can always use more rainbow.
Location: Uluru National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
Related Keywords: australia • uluru