How to survive Gluten Free in Uluru / Yulara

How to survive Gluten Free in Uluru / Yulara

Can one survive Uluru, or rather the nearby town of Yulara, gluten free? The answer thankfully is yes. With a little planning and a bit of inside info from this article you can have a great trip to the centre of Australia.

I’ve also added my reviews to Google Maps to help you out on the go but there’s more detail here. If you’ve never written a review I highly recommend this article highlighting the importance of reviews written by people with dietary needs.

About Yulara

The resort at Yulara is made up of several hotels of varying services and prices. They are all connected so you are welcome to stay in one and dine at another.

Yulara has a small town centre which hosts a post office, grocery store (IGA), tourist booking office, hairdresser and of course a few gift shops.

Hot tip: The Yulara resort is part of the Accor hotel group. If you have a membership (approx $100 per year) you are eligible to receive discounts at some of the restaurants. We ate half price at Ilkari, and had a modest discount at Mangata. These discounts were well over $100 by the end of the trip. 

Kulata Academy Cafe

The cafe in the town square is staffed by trainees of the Kulata Academy programme. This programme supports local youth in gaining valuable skills in hospitality and tourism. 

The cafe offers typical fare of baked goods and plenty of ready made sandwiches. They have both hot and cold drinks and special items like milkshakes and iced coffee.

I had a coffee there on another day and while I didn’t take any notes, I do think it was quite good – in fact, we went back on our last day so it must have been reasonable. But it was very strong!

Gluten free items include

Chicken Caesar salad (labelled gf), rice paper rolls (labelled gf and with gf soy sauce), and one sandwich offer – halloumi and roasted tomato. 

I didn’t notice anything sweet labelled there but I did see some huuuuuge meringues which are typically gluten free.

Two photos. A gluten free roll filled with halloumi and tomato with Uluru in the background. A flat white in a mug and an iced chocolate in a plastic cup.
Possibly the most delicious sandwich ever, and an incredibly strong flat white & iced chocolate

What I ate

On our first day we got in a bit later than expected due to a flight delay. I didn’t realise but the cafe closes at 2pm! We made it to the cafe two minutes to two but the doors were shut. 

I pleaded my case and told them,

“I’m gluten free and you’ve got one sandwich I can eat!”

“The halloumi?” She said, I nodded and she went to see what she could do.

Luckily they let us in and heated up two sandwiches for us. The staff were more than happy to wrap the sandwiches in baking paper to protect them from cross contamination in the sandwich press. 

We ate our sandwiches on our way to Uluru to make it in time for a walk before the sun set.

The bread they use is really nice, although its flat it’s soft and not at all crumbly. The halloumi was good and cut quite thick, the tomatoes were really tasty and zesty and there was a bonus bit of spinach.

In the moment I think I said it was the best sandwich I’d ever eaten. I think I was pretty stressed and hungry at the time. But it was genuinely good and I’d eat it again for sure. 

Mangata Bistro & Bar

As you’d expect with a bistro there’s quite an informal vibe here which is nice if you are just exhausted from your day of adventures and need a hot meal. We ate here twice, our dinner on the first night and a late lunch on our third day. 

Gluten free items include

Chicken wings (be warned, it’s just 3 in the serving), poke bowl, grilled ocean trout, steak, braised lamb shank, a few fries and vegetable sides. 

Two photos. Salmon and potato with green vegetables. Steak, chips and tomato salsa.
Two great gluten free meals at Mangata, Yulara

What I ate

The first night I got the ocean trout which came with roasted potatoes, greens and a bush tomato pesto. It was all really nicely cooked, I was quite happy. 

The second visit I got the scotch fillet with fries. On both visits we got a side of steamed vegetables that came with dukkah garnish. 

Ilkari Restaurant

Located at the Sails in the Desert, the Ilkari restaurant is a high-end buffet restaurant. What makes it high-end? The price! Ahh, it was about $80pp for adults when we went in September 2022. But, when you consider mains at the resort are $30 – 40 the price is actually quite reasonable. 

A buffet can be a bit daunting for a coeliac, a gluten free person or really anyone with dietary needs. The staff were super helpful and when I explained my situation the manager actually got a chef out from the kitchen who gave me a tour of the buffet and answered my questions. I highly recommend this as there were one or two extra items I could eat that weren’t labelled with allergens (new menu items so labels weren’t as clear). 

The highlight for me was that there were two fridges full of desserts, separate from the main dessert buffet. One was fully gluten free, the other was vegan – and fully gluten free! 

Gluten free items include:

Daily soup, truffled cauliflower gratin (made with gf flour!), roasted chat potatoes, mushroom ragout, daily curry, freshly grilled meats (unseasoned), salad bar, charcuterie (most small goods in Australia are gluten free, but you can check). 

The grilled meats are at a manned station, so the chef can talk you through what is there. There’s also a manned stir-fry / pasta station – you could get yourself a mixed veg stir fry (the one on the buffet had a gluten containing sauce). 

Labels showing gluten free is clearly marked. A plate of grilled meats and vegetables.
The truffled cauliflower gratin was actually gluten free as I found out after my tour with the chef.

What I ate:

What can I tell you about the food there? Well, I was craving creme brulee for a week or so before we went… they had mini ones available. The first thing I ate was one of those and then another three throughout the meal. 

I opted for the simple stuff, grilled meats, roast potatoes and vegetables. It was much appreciated after our early morning hike around Kata Tjuta. 

Two photos. A woman about to crack the top of a mini creme brulee. A plate with a creme brulee, a macaron and a petit four style cake.
Me eating a dessert before dinner, and my desert plate at the end.

IGA – the local grocery store

For those unfamiliar, IGA stands for Independent Grocers of Australia, it’s an alliance of independent grocery stores that compete against the big two (Coles and Woolworths).

The first thing to know about the IGA at Yulara are the trading hours 10am to 7pm. So no last minute breakfast runs, no late night ice cream cravings. Get yourself organised, especially if you’re arriving in the late afternoon.  

For a small store (roughly twice the size of a suburban 7-Eleven) there are a lot of gluten free products. 

There’s all your standard items that are gluten free in Australia. Packets of chips (crips), fresh foods, small goods (most brands are GF), rice crackers, flavoured milks, yoghurts / dairy, curry kits / sauces, sauces for Asian dishes like pad Thai or green curry and five cabinets of ice creams (check this list to see what ice creams are gluten free in Australia).

More special gluten free items include:

  • Carman’s protein bars (like a luxury granola/muesli bar);
  • Six types of gluten free pasta (including a gnocchi);
  • Three kinds of bread; 
  • Flour, breadcrumbs, egg replacer;
  • Three cereals and three ‘porridge’ options (oats are not allowed to be gluten free in Australia); and
  • A range of sweet biscuits and crackers. 

Field of Light 

The Field of Light is an art installation that has been at Yulara since 2016. Originally booked for six months it is still going today and will run until at least 2026. Thousands of lights are set up in a field, they begin to turn on as the sun sets, creating this beautiful scene that you then get to walk through and explore.

Depending on the tour it runs for two or three hours. Sunset is the most spectacular as you see the transition of light, but there are options that run late into the night as well, and I believe there is a sunrise tour. 

We chose the sunset option with drinks and canapes. You arrive 30 minutes before sunset to be greeted with a glass of sparkling wine or soft drink / juice. Canapes are served immediately while you watch the sun go down over Uluru. 

They can cater to dietary needs if you provide enough notice. I suggest mentioning it at the time of booking.  

Two photos. Uluru at sunset and a small box with four gluten free canapes.
Two beautiful sights.

What I ate

Those with dietary needs were provided with their own box with a selection of canapés. While not as exciting as some of my husband’s options it was nice to know everything in the box was safe. 

The box had a sweet potato puree tart, a dolmade (it looked homemade), a sandwich with pulled kangaroo (super dry bread, definitely gf 😅) and a small tart with hot smoked salmon and some kind of green topping, possibly egg? 

Book this experience early – I saw people at the tours desk miss out because most folk booked well in advance. 

Shell Service station

Depending on where you are staying in Yulara you might find yourself close to the one service station (gas station) in the town. 

Besides the usual service station (‘servo’ in Australian dialect) food there are groceries available. 

  • Flavoured milk, which is fun for kids. The brand Nippy’s is gluten free and has flavours like strawberry, banana and honeycomb. 
  • Ice creams – Weis are all gluten free, I also saw Giant in various flavours (block of ice cream dipped in chocolate) and something called Swing. 
  • Muesli bars (Carman’s) 
  • Small goods like ham and hotdogs (most brands in Australia are gluten free)
  • A big range of chips (most in Australia are gluten free)
  • Basic grocery items like tinned vegetables, oil, milk, coffee etc.  

If you arrived late or missed the supermarket you could definitely make a gluten free breakfast from what’s available or throw together a basic meal to get you through the day. 

Ayer’s Rock Airport

I’m not being tricky – the airport is still called Ayer’s Rock. If you’re hoping for a Starbucks or  multiple food options then you are out of luck. Ayer’s Rock airport is tiny. It has a gift store and a small cafe. That’s it. 

The cafe is run by the same group as the Kulata Academy Cafe in Yulara and you will see familiar menu items. When I was there I noticed the chicken Caesar salad and the rice paper rolls (both GF, same as in Yulara) and a gluten free banana bread. 

My recommendation is to bring your own food to snack on or to have something in Yulara before you leave. 

Gluten free items at Ayer's Rock Uluru airport.
Although it’s not labelled GF, the menu states the rice paper rolls are gluten free.

What I ate

I packed snacks with me for this part of the trip. Some crackers, a mini chickpeas pack and fresh cherry tomatoes. 

What is gluten free literally at Uluru?

If, like us, you’re planning to walk around the 10 kilometre track of Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock) then you’ll want gluten free snacks.

The visitor’s centre at Uluru isn’t just one building, it’s a collection of buildings with a museum, gift store, gallery and importantly, a café. On site at the café you can get tea and coffee (quite decent coffee too). We got ourselves a drink each and opted for an ice cream. The main brand there is from South Australia and unlike most Aussie ice creams they were actually labelled gluten free! 

There’s also a selection of premium ice creams with local flavours. 

If you’re after something savoury I spotted freshly made frittata in the hot food section – all in separate foils. Assuming the recipe is gluten free, the packaging will lower cross contamination risk for coeliacs. 

There was also a large range of chips (crisps). In Australia almost every brand of chips is gluten free, tested and clearly labelled. 

So while you won’t get a huge meal there’s definitely a post hike treat waiting for you. 

Other restaurants at Yulara

Unless you eat every meal out it’s not really possible to dine at every restaurant at Yulara. Here’s a quick run down of the other restaurants and their gluten free options in the Yulara village / Uluru.

Arnguli Grill & Restaurant

Adjacent to the Mangata Bistro & Bar this restaurant is a little more high end – with prices to match.

While the website lists the menu items unfortunately none of the dietary is listed. However, we took a photo of the menu so I can tell you with confidence. 

  • 80% of the starters are gluten free. 
  • Half mains are listed as gluten free.
  • Everything on the grill is gluten free (so that’s good from a cross contamination perspective) and all of the sauces options are GF.
  • Most of the sides are gluten free (not the mac and cheese). 

Just one dessert was gluten free – so of course we had it. The chocolate rosella, which is also dairy free and vegan. Chocolate mousse cake, macadamia praline and rosella gelato. At $20 it was a little pricey but we were sharing it as a fun treat after seeing the Field of Light. 

Geckos Cafe

Geckos offer breakfast, lunch and evening options. 

Breakfast – nothing on the menu is labelled gluten free but they do offer gluten free bread. You could likely get their big breakfast (most small goods in Australia are gluten free, and most hash browns are GF too). 

Lunch / dinner – salads, fries (check for CC on the fryer) and beef bourguignon. They also have gluten free pasta and pizza bases available – check their cross contamination procedures first as we didn’t eat here. 

Bough House

Buffet breakfasts and buffet dinners are on the menu here. At the time of writing it is temporarily closed. 

Half the mains are labelled gluten free, including the roast of the day (it says GF option, so perhaps a few elements are excluded / substituted). 

Ayer’s Wok

Great name, obviously! This place s takeaway only, I’m not sure if the hours vary during the year but right now (Nov, 2022) its evening only.

There’s a few items here, though mostly vegetarian. Vegetable fried rice with tofu, vegetarian Thai green curry, stir fried vegetables with tofu and a pad Thai with chicken and shrimp.

I’d recommend alerting them to your gf needs so they can give the wok / equipment a proper clean down first.

Note: recent Google Maps reviews are awful! Might be worth giving this a miss!

If you really are craving Asian food there are plenty of gluten free sauces and items at the Uluru grocery store, IGA.

Walpa Lobby Bar

Just inside the Sails in the Desert the Walpa Lobby Bar sits right beside Ilakri restaurant. There’s not a lot of gluten free here, really just a handful of tapas. We did see one nice looking dessert that was labelled gluten free in the display cabinet but that was it. 

Pira Pool Bar

This is such a nice spot outdoors to sit and eat. We didn’t eat there but it was right by our accommodation so we passed it many times. It’s well shaded and nearby the pool with lounge chairs adjacent. 

About half the dinner menu is gluten free (the pork belly looked delicious!) and both desserts are gluten free – panna cotta and a Davidson plum crumble. 

Weirdly not much on the day time menu is gluten free. 

Outback Pioneer Kitchen

While cook-it-yourself might seem cheaper it still looks fairly pricey… But if you’re after an experience and your in a hotel room rather than self catering then you give it a go. As you’d expect the meats available to grill are gluten free, it also includes Uluru natives kangaroo and crocodile. 

There’s a salad bar option – it’s not labelled gluten free but I’d assume much of it is fine. 

None of the a-la-carte menu is labelled gluten free. 

Note!!  Looking at the photos on reviews people cook their bread on the grills. Honestly, I doubt these grills are well-cleaned after each use. If you must, request some aluminium foil to create a barrier over the grill for cross contamination and hygiene.  

Our itinerary

For those of you who are interested I’ve also included our itinerary. I found it hard to figure this out on my own and ended up going with an itinerary suggested by my mother who had recently visited. 

Day 1 – arrive and explore Uluru

Arrive by plane at Uluru airport at 1pm. Grab lunch from the Kulata Academy cafe then pick up a rental car at 2:30pm for a 24 hour booking.

Drive to Uluru and complete the ten kilometre walk. It takes about three hours with lots of stops for photos and to have a snack. 

Two images. A close up of Uluru with heavy clouds. A picture of a native plant with uluru in the background.
Despite the overcast skies it was still stunning.

Watch the sunset at Uluru and then drive back to Yulara.

Dinner at Mangata Bistro & Bar followed by an early night’s sleep.

Day 2 – hike Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

Early morning drive out to Kata Tjuta, either for sunrise or soon after. Rain was forecast for the morning so we slept in as the sunrise wouldn’t be visible. 

Eat breakfast at the start of the hike. There’s a few undercover eating areas, picnic tables that would sit about six people and a few longer ones.. We had yoghurt with fruit and cereal and a Thermos of tea. 

Our breakfast view at Kata Tjuta.

Take the gorge hike, which is approximately one hour return. Drive over to the main Kata Tjuta walk, the Valley of the Winds. This walk lists 4 hours. It took us about 2.5 in total, which included a ten minute rest and a few stops to take photos and admire the scenery. 

Drive to Uluru visitor centre for coffee and snacks, look at the exhibition and stores. 

Take any last minute photos at the sunset viewing area (still great at other times!). Take the car back to Yulara, fill up with fuel and drop it off by 2:30pm.

Relax by the pool, take a nap, shower, all the nice things.

Have an early dinner at the Ilkari Buffet. 

Day 3 – relax or take some tours

Take advantage of free activities at the resort.

  • Garden tour
  • Native foods
  • Indigenous style painting

We missed the garden tour but we enjoyed the native foods talk. The presenter was really charismatic and engaging with well-landing jokes while still being informative. It included a free sample of a biscuit using native Uluru ingredients but sadly it wasn’t gluten free.

Visit the local gallery or chill by the pool. 

Take lunch at one of the many venues (we went back to Mangata)

Early evening take the Field of Light tour to watch the sunset over Uluru. 

Take a fancy dessert at the Arnguli Grill & Restaurant restaurant. 

Two photos. A field of hundreds of lights in the darkness. A plate with a chocolate dessert and pink sorbet.
Up close to the Field of Light and our fancy dessert at Arnguli

Day 4 – final day

Get up early and see the sunrise over Uluru from the viewing point in the middle of the Yulara resort. It’s a five minute walk from Sails in The Desert. 

Head back to the accommodation to take a leisurely breakfast. 

Check out of the hotel and wait for your transfer to the airport – free airport transfers are included in your accommodation fee. 

Have a coffee at the airport and wait for your flight!

How did you find my gluten free guide to Uluru and Yulara? Are you planning a trip to the red centre in the future? I’d love to hear your plans in the comments!
If you’d like to see more travel content have a browse of my guides.

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1 thought on “How to survive Gluten Free in Uluru / Yulara”

  • Thanks for this, now i’ve set a goal to visit Field of Light before it is taken down! Majestic scenery and a lot of gluten-free options!

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