Last updated on 6 May, 2023
The Red Centre is the heart of Australia. Uluru is the spirit of the Red Centre, attracting thousands of visitors every year. As travellers with a dog, we share how it is possible to visit Uluru with a dog.
A road trip to the Red Centre is an adventure into Australia’s outback. Experience extraordinary natural landmarks, Aboriginal sacred sites, magical rugged mountain ranges, breathtaking gorges, expansive desert landscapes and naturally beautiful waterholes.
While it is not possible to visit many of the wonders of the Red Centre with a dog, we share how to best do this iconic road trip as dog friendly as possible.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these to make a purchase, I may earn a commission. Any commission is greatly appreciated as it helps to keep Our Wayfaring Life online.
- The Red Centre NT General Information
- Taking Your Dog to the Red Centre NT
- Preparing to Visit the Red Centre NT
- When Visiting the Red Centre NT
- Dog Friendly Red Centre NT Road Trip | Visit Uluru with a Dog
- Yulara | Uluru and Kata Tjuta
- Petermann | Kings Canyon
- Alice Springs | MacDonnell Ranges
- PIN It!
- Recent Posts
The Red Centre NT General Information
Taking Your Dog to the Red Centre NT
Should I Take My Dog to the Red Centre?
It is possible to take your dog to the Red Centre and Uluru with dog friendly camping, pet sitting and boarding kennels (Alice Springs) available. There are also surprisingly more dog friendly things to do than you may think.
The main attractions are in national parks where dogs are strictly forbidden. Below are ideas and hints on how to do all the attractions when travelling with a dog, but they all require pet sitting, kennelling or leaving your dog alone.
Our dog Chika was with us since we are full time travellers, so we made it work. We did it by doing what she could not do in the early mornings (except for the Field of Lights one night) and then having the rest of the day with her.
Related read: Should You Travel Australia with your Dog?
Are Any Red Centre Attractions Dog Friendly?
Honestly, the Red Centre of Australia is not the most dog friendly place compared places like the Flinders Ranges and Nhulunbuy. There are, however, enough things to do with your dog that are interesting enough for you too.
Dog Friendly Camping in the Red Centre
At Yulara, the only dog friendly camping is at Ayers Rock Campground. The usual rules apply about keeping dogs on leads, cleaning up after them, not letting them disturb others and generally being a responsible dog owner. Note too that cats are not allowed anywhere in Yulara.
Curtain Springs 90 kilometres has free dog friendly camping with no amenities.
Kings Creek Station and Kings Canyon Resort are the two dog friendly caravan parks and campgrounds with amenities in Petermann. We opted to stay at the free Salt Creek Rest Area and drove the 1 hour 10 minutes early to Kings Canyon to do the rim walk. After we finished the walk at 10 am, we did the drive to Alice Springs.
There are several free rest stops along the Stuart Highway. There are no caravan parks.
Alice Springs has several dog friendly caravan parks and campgrounds. Read our post here on Alice Springs dog friendly caravan parks and campgrounds to choose the best one for you and your dog.
Dog Sitting at Uluru Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and Alice Springs
Yulara Uluru Pet Boarding and Sitting
Contact Ayers Rock Resort for the latest list of pet sitters as they change regularly. There are no boarding kennels in Yulara.
We were permitted to leave Chika at our campsite when we camped at Ayers Rock Campground on the conditions she would not disturb other campers and we were confident she would cope on her own. We left Chika for two mornings between 5 am to 10 am while we visited Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
Petermann Kings Canyon Pet Boarding and Sitting
None available that I know.
Dogs are allowed in the Kings Canyon carpark, so we left Chika at our caravan and did the rim walk from 6 am and finished at 9.30 am.
Alice Springs Pet Boarding and Sitting
In Alice Springs, we stayed at Temper Bar Caravan Park, where Trish, the manager, let us leave Chika at our campsite. Trish and some permanent residents kept checking on Chika for us. I would not assume you can leave your dog; it was quiet in the caravan park when we stayed. Ring to ask first.
Preparing to Visit the Red Centre NT
Driving Distances to the Red Centre
The drives to the Red Centre from Australia’s capital cities are long and take days to complete. Ensure you plan for this when travelling to the region.
Adelaide to Yulara (Uluru and Kata Tjuta) | 1580 kilometres or 16 hours 40 minutes
Melbourne to Yulara | 2290 kilometres or 25 hours
Sydney to Yulara | 2820 kilometres or 29 hours
Perth to Yulara | 3230 kilometres or 36 hours
Darwin to Alice Springs | 1500 kilometres or 15 hours 20 minutes
Brisbane to Alice Springs | 2995 kilometres or 32 hours
The distances between places within the Red Centre are often longer than people think, so it is essential to check before planning a day’s itinerary or drive.
Yulara to Petermann | 302 kilometres or 3 hours 10 minutes
Yulara to Alice Springs | 446 kilometres or 4 hours 40 minutes
Petermann to Alice Springs | 470 kilometres or 4 hours 50 minutes
Road Conditions and Vehicle Requirements
The main roads in the red centre to Alice Springs, Uluru and Kings Canyon are asphalt, suitable for all vehicles. It is possible to drive around the red centre without using dirt or gravel roads.
There are, however, alternate routes that are dirt roads only suitable for 4WD or off road vehicles.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Red Centre with a Dog
The most popular time to visit the Red Centre and Uluru is the cooler months, from May to September, with the peak months being June and July. When taking a dog during these months, booking pet friendly campsites and pet minding will need to be done well in advance. The night temperatures are often below freezing, so your dog may need extra bedding.
My suggestion is if you and your dog can handle some heat (not scorching hot) during the day, consider the months of March, April or October. The nights are milder and the earlier parts of the day are usually good for sightseeing and walking. It also means fewer people and more availability at campsites and dog sitters.
We did the Red Centre visiting Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and all around Alice Springs with our dog in February. The trick was to get up early (5 am) to do any sightseeing or walks and be back at camp by 10.30 am. We also drove the distances between places during the heat of the day.
How Long Do You Need to Visit the Red Centre
How long you need in the Red Centre will be at least a week to see the attractions and drive the distances. A week touring the Red Centre may typically look like this:
- Day 1 Uluru and the Field of Lights
- Day 2 Kata Tjuta
- Day 3 Kings Canyon
- Day 4 Drive to Alice Springs
- Day 5 Alice Springs
- Day 6 West MacDonald Ranges
- Day 7 East MacDonald Ranges
How Much to Budget
When we did the Red Centre, before the massive price hikes in fuel, fuel was our highest cost. You will need to budget for:
- National Park entry fees
- Dog sitting or boarding
Depending on how fast you travel, if you do things like eat out, drink and do tours, it would not be an overestimate to budget $500+ per day. More if you have children.
Plus, have money put aside for vehicle and caravan repairs. Even though the road trip suggested is all on sealed roads (except for a few optional sightseeing locations), the distances are long and things happen. There is no going anywhere if you cannot afford repairs if they are needed.
When Visiting the Red Centre NT
Where Can You Buy Supplies and Fuel
Yulara has a well stocked and not obscenely priced IGA for where it is.
Alice Springs has all the major supermarkets, stores and services. It is not called Australia’s outback capital city for no reason.
Fuel is also readily available. The best thing to do is to have a fuel app with the locations and prices.
Telstra mobile reception is what you would expect in remote regions like the Red Centre. It exists in towns enough to do web searches but not reliable for streaming, slows to crawl when lots of people are on it and is non-existent if you are any more than a few kilometres out of town.
Dog Friendly Red Centre NT Road Trip | Visit Uluru with a Dog
The Red Centre is spectacularly beautiful. It is also harsh, desolate and unforgiving, so make sure each day you are out sightseeing and walking that you take plenty of water (3+ litres each), sunblock, a hat, plenty to eat and a camera.
The flies can be horrendous and relentless. Use a head fly net if you want to stay sane.
Yulara | Uluru and Kata Tjuta
Captivating thousands of tourists yearly, Yulara is the gateway to visiting the world famous Uluru and Kata Tjuta landmarks. Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is the major draw card for the Red Centre.
There are several options for visiting Uluru and Kata Tjuta as a self guided tour or with tour groups, depending on how much time you have:
1 Day Only Itinerary
Visiting Uluru and Kata Tjuta on the same day is possible if the temperatures are mild and you are time limited by pet sitting arrangements. We recommend joining a free ranger guided tour along the Mala Walk plus the short Kuniya Walk to Mutitjulu Waterhole at the base of Uluru. Then do the Walpa Gorge walk and or to the stunning Karu and Karingana Lookouts at Kata Tjuta.
2 Day Itinerary
A two day itinerary is more suitable for leaving pets alone (if this suits you and your pet) as is allowed at Ayers Rock Campground and is based on how we managed sightseeing and having a dog.
On day one, wake up early and see the Uluru sunrise and follow this with an early morning self guided walk of Uluru Base Walk. Uluru audio guides are available to hire.
If you get up for sunrise and walk the base of Uluru, you can be back at camp with your dog by 10.30 am.
On day two, again wake early, but this time see the magical sunrise over Kata Tjuta and then do the 7.4 kilometre Valley of Winds Walk, a loop trail that takes in the spectacular Karu and Karingana Lookouts. Again, if you start at sunrise and walk the Valley of the Winds, you can be back at camp by 10.30 am.
Also, on one of the nights, visit the Field of Lights.
In the afternoons or at sunset, walk your dog to the dog friendly lookouts scattered around Ayers Rock Campground with views of Uluru or Kata Tjuta. Imalung Lookout has a better view of Uluru than Naninga Lookout. Pioneer and Ewing Lookouts also have views of Kata Tjuta, breathtaking at sunset.
3 Day Itinerary
If you have three days in Yulara, you may consider adding to the two day itinerary above a 4WD tour to Mount Conner. Ayers Rock Campground and Resort also run activities you may wish to do; ask what is on during your visit.
Petermann | Kings Canyon
Yulara to Petermann | 304 kilometres or 3 hours 10 minutes
The striking 300 metre high sandstone cliffs of Kings Canyon in the Watarrka National Park are truly phenomenal. There are two ways to experience Kings Canyon:
- The Creek Walk is a short 45 minute walk at the base of the gorge with the sandstone walls towering above you.
- The Kings Canyon Rim Walk follows the top of the escarpment with repeated outstanding views of the cliffs and down into the gorge. The popular hike is a 6 kilometre (3 – 4 hour) circuit, with the most challenging section being the climb to the top at the beginning. Our favourite section of the walk was the Garden of Eden, so we recommend you do not skip it.
There are a few options on how to do Kings Canyon as a dog owner:
- Kings Canyon car park allows dogs, so you could do the same as us by parking with your caravan and leaving your dog in your caravan. Of course, this depends on the weather and we did it by walking from 6 am to 9.30 am.
- The other options are to arrange pet sitting in Kings Canyon, Alice Springs or Yulara. Coach transfers are available from Alice Springs or Yulara (Uluru).
However you choose to do Kings Canyon, it can be done in one day.
Alice Springs | MacDonnell Ranges
Halfway between Adelaide and Darwin, huddled between the East and West MacDonnell Ranges and surrounded by a vast desert landscape, is Alice Springs the heart of Central Australia and the gateway to the Red Centre. The extraordinary Alice Springs deserves at least a two to three day stopover.
- The itinerary suggested below is:
- one day of sightseeing with your dog,
- one long day exploring the West MacDonnell Ranges without your dog,
- a half day exploring the East MacDonnell Ranges, again without your dog
See the beginning of this post for dog sitting options in Alice Springs. Alternatively, we camped at Temple Bar Caravan Park in non peak season and were permitted to leave Chika at our campsite. The manager Trish and some kind permanent residents checked on her for us.
Day 1 | Dog Friendly Alice Springs Itinerary
Start the day by heading 15 kilometres out of town along the Ross Highway to Emily Gap and then a further 7 kilometres to Jessie Gap, where both dogs are allowed in the carpark. Emily Gap and Jessie Gap are each ten minute walks to a stunning gorge with Aboriginal rock art. They are similar, with Emily Gap being the better of the two.
Next, head back into town and do a self drive tour of the dog friendly Alice Springs sites. The Alice Springs sign at the north and south ends of town are fantastic photo op. Adelaide House Museum allows dogs to join owners on a tour if kept on a lead. It is best to let them know you will be bringing a dog. Anzac Hill nearby is Alice Springs most visited landmark with its panoramic views, best seen at sunrise or sunset.
At John Flynn Grave Historical site, dogs are allowed in the carpark. The Old Ghan Locomotive is out on public display. Dog friendly parks within Alice Springs are listed here.
An hour out of Alice is the Redbank Waterhole alongside the Hugh River in the Owen Springs Reserve. A scenic drive best suited to 4WDs, take a picnic and visit for a couple of hours. Dog friendly camping is available if you want to stay longer for a fee. Also, note all other areas within the reserve are not dog friendly, including the ruins.
Day 2 | 1 Day Highlights of West MacDonnell Ranges Itinerary
Certainly, the West MacDonnell Ranges have more than enough to fill multiple days. As dog owners, we know time visiting national parks has to be limited, so we have put together a list below of the absolute highlights of the West MacDonnell Ranges to make the most of a day’s visit.
The suggested itinerary follows a 374 kilometre (4 hour) 2WD picturesque loop drive from Alice Springs along Namatjira Drive and returns along Larapinta Drive. The optimal time to start the day trip is sunrise or before. Alternatively, go on a West MacDonnell day trip from Alice Springs.
Alice Springs to Simpson Gap Waterhole | 20 kilometres
Simpson Gap Waterhole, only 20 kilometres from Alice Springs, is a superb start to a West MacDonnell day trip. At dawn, walk the 1 kilometre (30 minute) trail through towering cliffs to the permanent waterhole (no swimming), the best time to spot the resident black-footed rock wallabies.
Simpson Gap Waterhole to Standley Chasm | 30 kilometres
Next, is Standley Chasm or Angkerle Atwatye, considered the absolute highlight of the ranges. A towering narrow chasm, ideally seen when the sun is directly above, displays incredible outback colours. There is an entry fee, opening hours, a cafe and half day cultural tours. The walking trail takes about 1 hour.
We did not get to Standley Chasm because they were not open when we drove past. An option worth considering is making a day of visiting and doing a cultural tour.
Standley Chasm to Ellery Creek Big Hole | 59 kilometres or 40 minutes
Ellery Creek Big Hole or Udepata is an oasis of unbelievable natural beauty. Surrounded by mighty red cliffs, swimming is popular here when full of water. The water was too cold for us to swim. It was a lovely spot to linger for morning tea (toilets and BBQs available). We also had fun spotting hundreds of tiny frogs.
Ellery Creek Big Hole to Ormiston Gorge | 49 kilometres or 35 minutes
Ormiston Gorge or Kwartatuma is another spectacular place in the West MacDonnell Ranges of imposing cliffs and rugged natural beauty. Ormiston Gorge has multiple walks. We recommend doing the short waterhole walk and or the 2.5 kilometre Ghost Gum Loop Walk.
Ormiston Gorge to Hermannsburg Historic Precinct | 127 kilometres or 1 hour 20 minutes
Break up the drive from Ormiston Gorge back to Alice Springs by stopping at the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct. Once Australia’s longest running mission from 1877 to 1982, the heritage listed site is open to visitors (entry fee) and shares its fascinating and emotional history through old buildings, display boards and exhibitions. The Kata Anga Tea Rooms scones with jam and cream come highly recommended.
Note that dogs are allowed here on a leash. However, for the length of the drive and the cost of petrol, I would not collect my dog and drive back out here.
Hermannsburg to Historic Precinct to Alice Springs | 127 kilometres or 1 hour 20 minutes
Continue the scenic drive back to Alice Springs. The above suggested stops in the West MacDonnell Ranges are only some in the ranges but are an outstanding sample of the majestic landscape and region.
Day 3 | 1 Day Highlights of the East MacDonnell Ranges Itinerary
The East MacDonnell Ranges stretches 150 kilometres from Alice Springs along the Ross Highway. The scenic landscape is rugged, timeless and captivating. It grabbed my attention much more than I expected it would.
There are a few things to know for the itinerary below:
- The Ross Highway is sealed to Trephina Gorge and will require a 4WD to drive further to Arltunga.
- The drive from Trephina Gorge is dirt for 5 kilometres and is usually suitable for all vehicles (weather events may change this).
- The track from Trephina Gorge to John Hayes Rock Pool requires a 4WD.
If, you are going to Arltunga, drive there first and make your way back towards Alice Springs, stopping at other sites on the return journey. Then at the end of the day, you will be near town and can pick up your fur baby from the pet sitters. There is a one day 4WD tour of the East MacDonnell Ranges.
Alice Springs to Arltunga Historical Reserve | 115 kilometres or 1 hour 30 minutes
Arltunga, a goldrush town established in 1887, was Central Australia’s first town. Today remnants of the old town remain, open to be explored by driving and walking around. First, stop at the information board to read the history and stories of the people that lived there.
Arltunga Historical Reserve to Trephina Gorge | 50 kilometres or 40 minutes
Trephina Gorge is dramatic and untamed as it is beautiful. The rusty red cliffs with the sandy creek bed running through the middle have several walks varying from 500 metres to 9 kilometres. Ensure you walk along the sandy creek bed, through the gorge to experience the walls towering above and up onto the ridge for breathtaking views.
Also, stop to see the largest ghost gum in Australia, estimated to be 300 years old. The turn off to the tree is 250 metres from the Ross Highway turnoff.
Trephina Gorge to John Hayes Rock Pool | 6 kilometres or 20 minutes
John Hayes Rock Pool is a moderate, four wheel track from Trephina Gorge. The waterhole, popular for swimming when full after the wet season, is stunning with its backdrop of high rock walls and abundant bird life.
Trephina Gorge to Corroboree Rock | 31 kilometres or 25 minutes
Corroboree Rock, 800 million years in the making, is a towering rock column of great significance to the local Arrernte Aboriginal people. The short 20 minute walk around the base is a scenic stroll through wildflowers (in the spring) and native grasses. Snakes, various lizards and birds are often seen here too.
Corroboree Rock to Alice Springs | 50 kilometres or 35 minutes
Complete the final leg of the return journey to Alice Springs.
Safe travels through to Uluru and through the brilliant and ironic Red Centre NT.