There’s something magical about Australia’s red centre. Maybe it is the jaw-dropping landscapes, the inspiring history or the spiritual significance. It’s also probably because the Australian outback is a unique place on earth. The red center is where the heart of the outback beats and home of the aboriginals.
It has been a while since I have been to the red center, but I would love to go back soon. So I decided to dig up some old memories and write a post on this special place in Australia.
In this blog post, I will show you some of the center’s best places to go to, whether you want to travel on your own or with a tour group. (If you are not interested in the upcoming information, I suggest you click on read more just for the pictures, they are epic)
Alice Springs is the beating heart of Australia’s Red Centre. Located halfway between Darwin and Adelaide, both 1,500km away. The town is a popular gateway for exploring the Red Centre. From here you have easy excess all major sights.
Alice is known for its arts and events. There are many amazing art galleries, many of which dedication too Aboriginal art.
If you are planning to stay a bit longer in Alice Springs then here are some things that you can do:
- The Kangaroo Sanctuary – Cuteness overload at this sanctuary. This amazing organization rescues joeys and nursed them back to health so they can be released back into the wild.
Pro Tip for The Kangaroos Sanctuary: Follow them on Facebook or Instagram before you go so you can get to know the work of Brolga and Tahnee as well as the roos you’ll soon be meeting.
- Simpson’s Gap – Less than 20km from Alice Springs town center you come to Simpsons Gap. It’s a sacred spot for indigenous communities and a special place to sit quietly and take in the atmosphere.
- Trephina Gorge – Trephina Gorge Nature Park is perfect for exploring and has several short walks to choose from.
Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is more than just a rock. It is a living cultural landscape that of which is considered sacred to the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people. These people of the land are the traditional owners and guardians of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. This special place carries great spiritual and cultural significance for these local indigenous tribes.
Uluru has started forming around 550 million years ago and is 348 meters high. The monolith is oval in shape, measuring 2.2 miles (3.6 km) long by 1.5 miles (2.4 km) wide, with a circumference of 5.8 miles (9.4 km).
When I was there I was lucky enough that it had rained over the last few days. That meant that there were actually several waterfalls coming down the rock. Only 1% of the visitors get to see this, so I was very lucky.
You can do different walks around Uluru:
- Uluru Base Walk | Grade 3 | Moderate | 10.6km full circuit | 3.5hours
The Base Walk is the best way to fully appreciate the natural and cultural beauty of Uluru.
- Mala Walk to Kantju Gorge | Grade 1 | All access | 2km return | 1.5 hours
This is where the Mala (rufous hare-wallaby) people camped when they arrived at Uluru in the beginning. Discover Anangu rock art and experience the sheer vertical walls and profound peacefulness of Kantju Gorge.
- Kuniya Walk | Grade 1 | All access | 1km return | 30-45 minutes
Learn how Kuniya and Liru (the woma python woman and poisonous snake man) helped create Uluru. This is a living cultural landscape.
- Lungkata Walk | Grade 2 | Easy | 4km return | 1.5 hours
Learn how one of Uluru’s first visitors discovered the dangers of climbing Uluru.
During the summer months, this is a great close-to-the-rock sunset location.
- Liru Walk | Grade 2 | Easy | 4km return | 1.5 hours
This walk will take you between the Cultural Centre and the base of Uluru.
I did the base walks, but only part of it. Since it had rained quite a lot some of the paths were not accessible due to ‘flooding”. I recommend that you definitely do one of these walks to get a better feel for this mystical mountain.
Additionally, if you have time you should wait till Uluru is covered in darkness. Since the outback is pretty desolate, there is not a lot of light pollution. Meaning that you can see one of the most impressive skies in the world. In addition, the southern hemisphere offers some spectacular sky objects, such as the Magellanic Clouds and the famous Southern Cross constellation. (for the people that know what they are looking for.. not me)
If this wasn’t on your bucket list then you’d better add it. Simply amazing.
Kata Tjuṯa, also known as the Olgas, is a group of large, soaring rock domes. They are located approximately 40km west of Uluru and the ochre-colored shapes are an intriguing and mesmerizing sight. Kata Tjuṯa means ‘Many heads’ and it is sacred to the local Aboriginal Anangu people.
There are a number of walking trails that range from easy to difficult. Most walks offer spectacular views and with those large rock domes looming over you it makes you feel small. In summer be careful which trail you choose, since there is not a lot of shade and since it is a loop, no real change of turning around.
The Walpa Gorge Walk is a rocky track that rises gently and passes rare plants and leads to a grove of spearwood. The longest of all trails at Kata Tjuta is the Valley of the Winds Walk – a moderately difficult track with breathtaking views. It is very steep in places, but the 7.4km circuit is worth the effort – it takes you between the domes, through creek beds and away from the crowds. This is the walk that I did as well, and I definitely found it worth the muscle ache in the evening.
Located in Watarrka National Park, Kings Canyon is a majestic destination featuring 100 m-high sandstone walls, palm-filled crevices, and views that stretch across the desert.
Lace up your walking boots and explore the 6km Rim Walk – a must for those seeking magnificent views of the Canyon rim, the weathered domes of ‘The Lost City’ and the ‘Garden of Eden’. There are options to suit all fitness levels.
We did the 6-kilometer rim walk, which is the longest and toughest option. You start off with 500 stone steps that are a bit of a heartstopper. But we were warned that it was daunting so just take your time. We did it in about three hours enjoying every step, the garden of Eden is a magnificent pit stop for lunch, the scenery is so beautiful that this was the highlight of our trip, simply stunning.
Please note: that in hot weather where the forecast is to be 36 degrees Celsius and above, there are access restrictions to some walks.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO?
The best time to go is in June and July. It is cold overnight, but daytime temperatures are very nice for getting out and about. Additionally, the pesky flies are not a problem by then either. They come out during the more warmer times of the year – so that is a major plus for going a bit earlier.
TIPS AND RULES
Underneath are a few things you need to consider and keep in mind when traveling to the Red Centre.
- An adventure to the outback goes hand in hand with pesky flies.
They are out in such strong force (especially in summer) that it can hinder your outback experience. So definitely bring fly repellent, and a face net, and above all – learn to ignore the ones that aren’t on your face and you’ll have a much better time.
- Water – A MUST
Be sure to pack lots of water with you regardless of what season you are traveling around in the center, particularly if you are going to be driving long distances. It is recommended that your bring AT LEAST TWO LARGE BOTTLES of water per person.
- Dingoes – Although they look cute and cuddly please do not approach them. They are wild predators. Would you approach a bear? No. Would you approach a lion? No. So don’t approve a dingo. It looks like a dog but it’s not.
- Ensure you bring a sturdy and comfortable pair of hiking shoes or boots; the terrain in the outback is notoriously rough and slipping/tripping can be a hazard when wearing regular shoes.
- Keep your mobile phone charged as much as possible. The remoteness of some locations makes the possibility of becoming stranded all-too-real.
PLANNING TO GO TO AUSTRALIA? THEN CHECK OUT SOME MORE TRAVEL TIPS HERE:
- The Ultimate Travel Guide to Australia
- Sydney city guide
- Melbourne City Guide
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