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! align=right bgcolor=#FFFFFF |'''Red Centre'''
 
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The '''Red Centre''' is the colloquial name given to the southern desert region of the [[Northern Territory]] in [[Australia]].
 
  
==Understand==
 
  
The Red Centre is the place where you will find the most famous monolith of Australia, [[Uluru]] and it is where the heart of the outback beats. The only town of sizable population is [[Alice Springs]], the remainder of the population being scattered in smaller communities. The oxidized iron in the soil gives the whole area its distinctive and immediately recognizable reddish glow.
 
  
==Get in==
+
The '''Red Centre''' is the colloquial name given to the southern desert region of the [[Northern Territory]] in [[Australia]].
  
Most visitors arrive to the Red Centre via [[Alice Springs]] (see [[Alice Springs#Get in]]) by car, train or plane. There is another airport near [[Uluru]] with connections to other major Australian cities.
+
==Cities==
  
==Get around==
+
* [[Alice Springs]] — heart of Australia and hub of the region
 +
* [[Yulara]] — service station before entering the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
  
[[Image:RedCenter_map.png|right|thumb|400px|Map of the Red Center]]
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==Other Destinations==
 +
[[Image:location_redcenter.png|thumb|250px|Red Centre]]
 +
* [[Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve]] — a spectacular solitary column towering 40 metres above the Simpson Desert plain
 +
* [[East MacDonnell Ranges]] — following Ross Highway to the east, you will find awesome gorges, gaps and rock formations
 +
* [[Ewaninga Conservation Reserve]] — gain insight into an ancient culture as you explore the small, six hectare Ewaninga Rock Carvings
 +
* [[Finke Gorge National Park]] — this ancient landscape includes desert oasis Palm Valley, home to a diverse range of plant species, many of which are rare and unique to the area
 +
* [[Rainbow Valley]] — a scenic natural reserve consisting of various formations of sandstones and rocks
 +
* [[Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park]] — home to Australia's most recognisable natural icon.
 +
* [[Watarrka National Park]] — home to '''Kings Canyon''', a mighty chasm reaching a depth of 270 metres with some great options for the less energetic to explore
 +
* [[West MacDonnell National Park]] — following Larapinta Drive westwards, it offers easily accessible swimming holes, chasms and gorges, bush walking, camping and four-wheel-driving
  
The best way to get around is with a car, although there are also buses from [[Alice Springs]] to tourist destinations.
+
==Understand==
  
The sealed Stuart Highway running from [[Alice Springs]] to [[Adelaide]] crosses the area and is the major artery for local traffic (meaning you can actually cross several vehicles per hour). The Lasseter Highway is also sealed, and links the Stuart Highway with Uluru.
+
The Red Centre is the place where you will find the most famous monolith of Australia, [[Uluru]] and it is where the heart of the outback beats. The only town of sizable population is [[Alice Springs]], the remainder of the population being scattered in smaller communities. The oxidized iron in the soil gives the whole area its distinctive and immediately recognizable reddish glow. Here you can connect with the oldest living culture on earth or listen to colourful yarns of the pioneering days at an outback pub.  
  
Consider renting a 4WD to explore areas beyond the Stuart Highway and Uluru. Several destinations can simply not be accessed by conventionnal vehicles. If you run out of fuel here, you're in big trouble. It is advisable to travel with other vehicles, the more the better.
+
===Indigenous History===
 +
The Arrernte Aboriginal people have made their home in the Central Australian desert in and around Alice Springs for more than 50,000 years. The Aboriginal name for Alice Springs is Mparntwe. Three major groups Western, Eastern and Central Arrernte people live in Central Australia, their traditional land including the area of Alice Springs and East/West MacDonnell Ranges. They are also referred to as Aranda, Arrarnta, Arunta, and other similar spellings.
  
 +
Arrernte country is rich with mountain ranges, waterholes, and gorges; as a result the Arrernte people set aside 'conservation areas' in which various species are protected. According to the Arrernte traditional stories, in the desert surrounding Alice Springs, the landscape was shaped by caterpillars, wild dogs, travelling boys, two sisters, euros, and other ancestral figures.
  
 +
There are many sites of traditional importance in and around Alice Springs, such as Anthwerrke (Emily Gap), Akeyulerre (Billy Goat Hill), Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap), Atnelkentyarliweke (Anzac Hill), and Alhekulyele (Mt. Gillen). Many Arrernte people also live in communities outside of Alice Springs.
  
==See==
+
==Talk==
 +
English is the most common language spoken in the Red Centre and hundreds of different Aboriginal languages are spoken by the indigenous people.
  
* [[Alice Springs]] town, an oasis in the middle of nowhere, and the link to the outer world for locals, and the natural choice to start your exploration of the region. Framed by the MacDonnell Ranges and an intense desert landscape, the township of Alice Springs is Australia’s most famous outback town.
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==Get in==
  
 +
Remember, if you travel into an Aboriginal Community, you are not allowed to take alcohol or pornography.  There are severe fines if caught.  Also, when visiting Arts Centres, do not travel into residential areas (these are well sign posted).
  
*<see name="Adelaide House Museum" alt="" address="Todd Mall, Alice Springs, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8952 1856" url="" hours="" price="Entry fees apply" lat="" long="">Adelaide House is one of the earliest buildings in Alice Springs, built in 1920 by the Australian Inland Mission. As you step into the cool interior of this historic building situated in the heart of Todd Mall, you’ll step back in time.</see>
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===By plane===
  
*<see name="Arltunga Historical Reserve" alt="" address="Ross Highway, 110 kilometres east of Alice Springs, Alice Springs, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8951 8250" url="http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/" hours="" price="Free entry" lat="" long="">Located 110 kilometres east of Alice Springs, the historic town of Arltunga was officially Central Australia's first town and once supported up to 3000 people. Arltunga was born out of a gold rush in 1887, when alluvial gold was discovered in a dry creek bed. Today you can relive the heyday of Arltunga at the Historical Reserve, where the remains of mines, old miner's camps and stone buildings are preserved for the public to explore. The fossicking area is located outside of the reserve, however you can pan for gold in the visitor centre's courtyard display.</see>
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There is an airport in Alice Springs. Currently Qantas has connecting flights to [[Darwin]], [[Sydney]], [[Melbourne]], [[Brisbane]], [[Adelaide]], [[Cairns]] and [[Perth (Western Australia)|Perth]]. There is a flying shuttle to Uluru but Uluru has an airport (Yulara) too, so if you're just flying in to see the rock, you don't have to stop off at Alice. (Although you should!). Tiger Airways [http://www.tigerairways.com.au] is by far the cheapest way to get to Alice Springs.  
  
*<see name="Ormiston Gorge and Pound" alt="" address="Namatjira Drive, Alice Springs, Northern Territory" directions="135 kilometres west of Alice Springs" phone="" url="http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Massive geological forces created the towering red walls of Ormiston Gorge and Pound, located within the West MacDonnell National Park, 135 kilometres west of Alice Springs. Within the gorge is a permanent waterhole, estimated to be at least 14 metres deep, which provides a refreshing finale to a day's exploring. The seven kilometre long Ormiston Pound walk is a full circuit from the visitor centre across the rocky slopes, onto the flat floor of the pound and returns along the gorge via the main waterhole.</see>
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===By train===
  
*<see name="Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park" alt="" address="Lasseter Highway, Yulara, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8956 1100" url="http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/index.html" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Few are ever prepared for a visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Uluru / Ayers Rock is Australia's most recognisable natural icon. Standing 348 metres high, the monolith has a great cultural significance for the traditional Aboriginal owners, the Anangu people. The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is located 440 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs near the town of Yulara, and encompasses both Uluru / Ayers Rock and the great rock domes of Kata Tjuta / The Olgas. This ancient landform dates back 500 million years. Travellers visiting the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park can also browse through the informative and award-winning Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre. </see>
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The Ghan is as infamous as the Orient Express, a long train ride over a large land area, and got even longer in 2004 with an extension right through to [[Darwin]]. Don't expect complete luxury on the Ghan, however. The rolling stock is rather dated, and while adequate, it was purchased used, and has not been highly refurbished. The scenery is nice though. Expect to pay a premium over the airfare.  
  
*<see name="Curtin Springs Station" alt="" address="Lasseter Highway via Yulara, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8956 2906" url="http://www.curtinsprings.com/" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Outback hospitality – The way you wish it could be all the time. Curtin Springs is a working cattle station and Wayside Inn located on the Lasseter Highway just 84 kilometres east of Yulara, at the edge of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. It is owned and operated by the Severin family. The family took over in 1956 and still operate the station today. </see>
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===By car===
====Historic====
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[[Image:Martyna Zambrzycka Millspaugh (2).JPG|250px|thumb|Outback, Australia. Street between Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Alice Springs]]
  
====Wildlife====
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Alice Springs is 17 hours drive from [[Darwin]], and 18 hours drive from [[Adelaide]].  The [[Stuart Highway]] from [[Adelaide]] is well-maintained and goes right through [[Coober Pedy]], an underground town famous also for being the opal capital of the world (and worth stopping off for a visit on the way). It continues through [[Tennant Creek]] and [[Katherine]] all the way up to Darwin.
  
*<see name="Alice Springs Reptile Centre" alt="" address="9 Stuart Terrace, Alice Springs, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8952 8900" url="http://www.reptilecentre.com.au/" hours="" price="Entry fees apply" lat="" long="">The Alice Springs Reptile Centre is the largest reptile display in the Northern Territory. Do not miss the saltwater crocodile exhibit featuring underwater viewing. Watch the lizards feed, or play with a python. Or wander through the absorbing Fossil Cave, where you can trace the rise of reptiles over hundreds of millions of years.</see>
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It is worthwhile reading the safety tips for [[Driving in Australia]] and always carrying water and ensuring you know the location and opening hours of your fuel and food stops.
  
====Nature====
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Read the rental car conditions carefully. Cars rented locally in Alice Springs usually do not offer unlimited free kilometres. Rental cars hired outside of the Northern Territory may not be able to be driven into it. Driving after dark outside of the city limits may be prohibited.
*<see name="Ayers Rock Observatory" alt="" address="Tour and Information Centre, Ayers Rock Resort, Yulara, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8956 2563" url="http://www.ecotours.com.au/" hours="" price="Entry fees apply" lat="" long="">The lights of the world’s modern cities hide the brilliance of the night sky, but things are different at the Ayers Rock Observatory, located in Yulara. The darkness of the desert setting and a clean atmosphere, provide one of the best locations on Earth to view the magnificent skies of the Southern Hemisphere. An expert guide will show you our magnificent galaxy and beyond through state of the art telescopes.</see>
 
  
====Culture====
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=== By bus===
  
*<see name="Maruku Arts" alt="" address="Cultural Centre, Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park, Yulara, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="" url="http://www.maruku.com.au/" hours="" price="Free entry" lat="" long="">Maruku is a craft company, owned and controlled by the Anangu Aboriginal people from the southeast and west of Central Australia. Maruku's retail outlet is at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre at the base of Uluru / Ayes Rock. Maruku assists craftspeople throughout the Anangu, collective name of Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara and Ngaanyatjara speaking people, lands by coordinating the marketing and promotion of their work and providing them with essential support services and advice. Tours are available within the shop to assist in appreciating the spiritual significance of the works on display.</see>
+
Greyhound [http://www.greyhound.com.au]] ply the route to Alice Springs from the north and the south.
  
*<see name="Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre" alt="" address="Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Headquarters, Yulara, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="" url="http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/visitor-activities/cultural-centre.html" hours="" price="Free entry" lat="" long="">All Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park information services are housed within the award-winning Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre, a stunning example of contemporary Australian architecture. Dynamic displays, video and artwork explain this world heritage landscape from the perspective of the traditional owners, Anangu. Learn about Tjukurpa, creation stories and laws, which explain the spiritual meanings of the surrounding landscapes.</see>
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==Get around==
  
==Do==
+
[[Image:RedCenter_map.png|right|thumb|400px|Map of the Red Center]]
  
 +
The sealed Stuart Highway running from [[Alice Springs]] to [[Adelaide]] crosses the area and is the major artery for local traffic (meaning you can actually cross several vehicles per hour). The Lasseter Highway is also sealed, and links the Stuart Highway with Uluru.
  
*<do name="Larapinta Trail" alt="" address="West MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8951 8250" url="http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">The Larapinta Trail is an exciting long distance walking track through the West MacDonnell National Park in the heart of central Australia. The Trail runs for 223 kilometres along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder. The grandeur and timeless beauty of the Ranges are the backdrop and setting for the Trail, which is divided into twelve sections, providing walkers with an opportunity to experience an ancient landscape at their own pace.</do>
+
Consider renting a 4WD to explore areas beyond the Stuart Highway and Uluru. Several destinations can simply not be accessed by conventionnal vehicles. If you run out of fuel here, you're in big trouble. It is advisable to travel with other vehicles, the more the better.
  
*<do name="Redbank Gorge" alt="" address="Namatjira Drive, Alice Springs, Northern Territory" directions="157 kilometres west of Alice Springs" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Part of the West MacDonnell National Park, the waters of deep and narrow Redbank Gorge, located 157 kilometres west of Alice Springs, are very cold all year round and are best negotiated with an airbed or similar flotation device. Explore this ancient and impressive landform, then sit down and relax, soaking up the scenic surrounds, as you enjoy a barbecue lunch by the Gorge.</do>
+
The big rocks are actually a little distance from [[Yulara]]. where the accommodation and facilities are.  If you are not with a tour, or didn't bring your car, you will need to decide how best to get to these locations. Hire cars can be expensive, and have limited kilometres; however shuttles to and from the rock are also expensive, so do the math and see what works best for you.
====Adventure====
 
  
*<do name="Giles Track" alt="" address="Watarrka National Park, Kings Canyon, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8951 8250" url="http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/" hours="" price="Free entry" lat="" long="">Impressive natural wonders, indigenous culture and the heritage of outback Central Australia can all be experienced when trekking this 22 kilometre, two day long distance walking track located in Watarrka National Park.</do>
 
  
====Culture====
+
==See==
  
 +
* [[Alice Springs]], an oasis in the middle of nowhere, and the link to the outer world for locals, and the natural choice to start your exploration of the region. Framed by the MacDonnell Ranges and an intense desert landscape, Alice Springs is Australia’s most famous outback town.
  
  
====Wildlife====
+
*<see name="Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park" alt="" address="Lasseter Highway, Yulara, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8956 1100" url="http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/index.html" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Few are ever prepared for a visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Uluru (Ayers Rock) is Australia's most recognisable natural icon. Standing 348 metres high, the monolith has a great cultural significance for the traditional Aboriginal owners, the Anangu people. The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is located 440km south-west of Alice Springs near the town of Yulara. A three-day permit to enter the National Park costs $25. A permit to enter the park may or may not be included in a tour you book. Ask your booking agent if your tour fee includes the permit to enter the park. As it is a sacred site, aboriginal communities wish tourists would not climb "the Rock". Nevertheless,it is still possible to climb, but the way is closed when temperatures are above 36°C.</see>[[Image:Martyna Zambrzycka Millspaugh (5).JPG|250px|thumb|On the top of Uluru Rock (Ayers Rock)]]
  
*<do name="Uluru Camel Tours" alt="" address="Ayers Rock Resort, Yulara, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8950 3030" url="http://ulurucameltours.ananguwaai.com.au/" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">With views of Uluru / Ayers Rock and Kata Tjuta / The Olgas providing an inspiring backdrop, visit Uluru Camel Tours at the Ayers Rock Resort and get to know their remarkable and friendly camels. Get up close and personal and enjoy a short ride atop one of these gentle giants of the desert, or browse through the museum and display area and pick up a memento of your visit. A wonderful ‘hands on’ experience for young children and families alike.</do>
+
*<see name="Curtin Springs Station" alt="" address="Lasseter Highway via Yulara, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8956 2906" url="http://www.curtinsprings.com/" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Outback hospitality – The way you wish it could be all the time. Curtin Springs is a working cattle station and Wayside Inn located on the Lasseter Highway just 84km east of Yulara, at the edge of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. It is owned and operated by the Severin family. The family took over in 1956 and still operate the station today. </see>
  
==Itineraries==
 
  
The following itinerary will lead you through the best of the Red in a few days, however you will need a 4WD, so make a reservation beforehand. Make sure there is a little fridge with your vehicle to keep your supplies fresh.
+
*<see name="Museum of Central Australia" alt="" address="Araluen Cultural Precinct, Corner of Larapinta Drive and Memorial Avenue, Alice Springs, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8951 1120" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">The Museum of Central Australia, in the Araluen Cultural Precinct, acts as an interpretive centre for Central Australia’s natural history. The exhibitions explore the unique features of the region through time and space, following the evolution of the landscape and the creatures that inhabited it. Featured is a replica of a local palaeontologic dig, an ancient waterhole with some surprising mega fauna including a giant freshwater crocodile and the largest bird that ever lived, Dromornis stirtoni, dated at eight million years old. Other exhibits include present day Central Australian mammals, reptiles, insects and meteorite fragments.</see>
  
*'''Day one'''
 
  
Make your way into Alice Springs. There are no international flights landing the Alice, so you will have to change planes at any of the big Australian cities ([[Sydney]], [[Melbourne]], [[Cairns]], [[Adelaide]], [[Perth]] or [[Darwin]]). Being in the middle of Australia, it takes more or less two hours to get to Alice Springs from any of the aforementionned cities.  
+
*<see name="Alice Springs Desert Park" alt="" address="Larapinta Drive, Alice Springs, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8951 8788" url="http://www.alicespringsdesertpark.com.au/" hours="" price="Entry fees apply" lat="" long="">In the space of just a few hours, you can discover many of the secrets of the Central Australian deserts at the Alice Springs Desert Park. Hundreds of the species of plants and animals found across Central Australian deserts can be seen, smelt and heard at the Desert Park. You will even have the opportunity to experience desert habitats as they are at night, seeing some of the animals near impossible to see in the wild.</see>
  
In Alice Springs, walk to the top of the '''Anzac Hill''' to get a good view of the town, and pay a visit to the '''[http://www.flyingdoctor.net/central/alice.htm Royal Flying Doctor Service]''' or the '''[http://www.assoa.nt.edu.au/ School of the Air]''', both will give you an idea of the vastitude of the surrounding areas and how the locals cope with it.
 
  
In the evening, take a bite at a restaurant on the Todd Mall.
 
  
*'''Day two'''
+
*<see name="Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon)" alt="" address="Kings Canyon, Watarrka National Park, Northern Territorysouth-west of Alice Springs" directions="330km via the Red Centre Way, 450km via the Stuart and Lasseter Highways and Luritja Road" phone="+61 (8) 8951 8250" url="http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Watarrka National Park, synonymous with its most famous landmark, Kings Canyon, is located 450km south west of Alice Springs in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta region of the Northern Territory. The park encompasses the western end of the George Gill Range and is home to a variety of unique native flora and fauna, including over 600 different plant species.</see>
  
In the morning, pick up your 4WD (you will of course have made your reservation beforehand on the internet at Thrifty[http://www.thrifty.com.au/], Britz[http://www.britz.com.au] or any of the companies offering 4WD rental). Buy your supplies for the coming days (including a lot of fluids).
+
===Itineraries===
  
Head West on the '''Larapinta Drive''', and make your first stop only a few km outside Alice at the very interesting '''[http://www.alicespringsdesertpark.com.au/ Alice Springs Desert Park]''', where you will learn a lot about the flora and fauna of the Australian Desert. Allow at least two hours for the visit.
+
The following itinerary will lead you through the best of the Red in a few days, however you will need a 4WD, so make a reservation beforehand. Make sure there is a little fridge with your vehicle to keep your supplies fresh. [[Red centre Itinerary]]
  
Continue West, enter the '''West McDonnell National Park'''. The moutain range is dotted with gaps, waterholes and gorges, (Simpsons Gap, Ormiston Gorge, Stanley Chasm...), making for refreshing short walks. If you have your bathsuit, you can even swim in some of the waterholes (for instance the permanent Ellery Creek Big hole), but be aware that the water can be ''very'' cold compared to the outside air. Make a stop at the '''Ochre Pits''', used by aboriginals to get ceremonial ochre.
+
==Do==
  
Make a stop for the night at '''[http://www.glenhelen.com.au/ Glen Helen Resort]''', a very casual but clean little place in magnificient surroundings, and actually the only option for a roofed accommodation around.
+
*<do name="Larapinta Trail" alt="" address="West MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8951 8250" url="http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">The Larapinta Trail is an exciting long distance walking track through the West MacDonnell National Park in the heart of central Australia. The Trail runs for 223km along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder. The grandeur and timeless beauty of the Ranges are the backdrop and setting for the Trail, which is divided into twelve sections, providing walkers with an opportunity to experience an ancient landscape at their own pace.</do>
  
*'''Day Three'''.
 
The real outback driving begins here. Wake early, walk to the Glen Helen Gorge, and take back your 4WD to continue on the Larapinta Drive, which becomes unsealed. Make a stop at the Redbank Gorge, and walk the 1-hour return trail (without forgetting to take water with you).
 
Continue on the '''Mereenie Loop Road''', an unsealed dirt road crossing Aboriginal lands, with nice desert scenery around you. Try to take your lunch at the viewpoint of '''Tyler's Pass''', from where there is a truly breathtaking view over the area. You should also be able to see the eroded crater of '''[[Tnorala]]''', a truly gigantic comet impact dating from the Cretacean period.
 
Descend from Tyler's pass, and take a short walk inside Tnorala. The sheer size of what remains after million years of erosion puts the imagination at test about the energy of the original impact.
 
  
You should be able to reach '''[[Watarrka National Park]]''' before sunset, and even have enough take to take the short walk at the bottom of King's Canyon and admire the sunset on the Canyon. Take a good night of sleep at the [http://www.kingscanyonresort.com.au/ King's Canyon Resort]
 
  
*'''Day four'''
+
*<do name="Simpsons Gap" alt="" address="18km west of Alice Springs, via Larapinta Drive, Alice Springs, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8951 8250" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Simpsons Gap, 18km west of Alice Springs, is one of the best known attractions in the West MacDonnell National Park. A good time to visit is later in the afternoon or early morning when there is a good chance of sighting the rare Black-footed Rock Wallabies. The Ghost Gum walk provides an interesting introduction to the native plants of the region. The short walk to Cassia Hill gives excellent elevated views of the Ranges and the Simpsons Gap area. For something a little different, a sealed bicycle path meanders for 17km between Simpsons Gap and John Flynn's Grave. Allow around 45 minutes to explore the wonders of this area.</do>
  
[[Image:Uluru large.jpg|thumb|300px|Uluru]]
 
  
Leave just before sunrise (at least during the hotter months), and head for the Canyon, walk the Rim Walk while it is still not too hot, with plenty of water with you. Admire and absorb the magic of the scenery around you.
 
  
After the walk, head for Uluru. Slowly, you will notice that the soil gets sandier and sandier, and soon the (fortunately sealed) road will lead you through dunes. A hundred kilometers before Uluru, you will see '''Mount Conner''' in the distance, an anvil shaped mount with a flat top. From the dune on the other side of the viewpoint for Mount Conner, you will also see vast salt lakes spotting the plains.  
+
*<do name="Ellery Creek Big Hole" alt="" address="Namatjira Drive, Alice Springs, Northern Territory" directions="90km west of Alice Springs" phone="" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">High red cliffs, a large waterhole and a sandy creek fringed by gums make this one of the most popular and picturesque picnicking spots in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Much more than just a popular place for the locals to take a refreshing dip, Ellery Creek Big Hole is also recognised as an internationally significant geological site. A three kilometre Dolomite walk provides an opportunity for visitors to explore some of the interesting formations. The West MacDonnell Ranges are the source of the water that has collected in a deep pool. Red River and Ghost Gums shelter the picnic area located nearby. Camping is permitted (fees apply).</do>
  
After some more driving, you will see both Uluru and Kata Tjuta rising in the distance. No matter how many times you have seen the Rock in photographs or videos, the first time you see it rising from the plains truly leaves a strong impression. Get in the park (there is a fee), visit the tourist center, eventually take one of the short walks around the rock, but be at the designated parking spot for the sunset. At the last moment before the sun goes down, it reflects in the rock. The rock then "shines" for a few seconds, producing a truly mesmerizing effect. Head back to one of the accommodation at neighbouring '''Yulara'''. 
 
  
*'''Day five'''
 
  
Drive to Kata Tjuta (45 km from the entrance of the park), make a brief stop at the view point and walk the Valley of the Winds, a 7 km loop between the red domes of Kata Tjuta. The trail is not too difficult, but it is sometimes closed in the summer days to the 
+
*<do name="Uluru Camel Tours" alt="" address="Ayers Rock Resort, Yulara, Northern Territory" directions="" phone="+61 (8) 8950 3030" url="http://ulurucameltours.ananguwaai.com.au/" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">With views of [[Uluru]](Ayres Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) providing an inspiring backdrop, visit Uluru Camel Tours at the Ayers Rock Resort and get to know their remarkable and friendly camels. Get up close and personal and enjoy a short ride atop one of these gentle giants of the desert, or browse through the museum and display area and pick up a memento of your visit. A wonderful ‘hands on’ experience for young children and families alike.</do>
excessive heat (whether the walk in closed or open is indicated at the entrance of the park, so you do not have to drive the 90km return just to check). If it is too hot or you do not feel like walking 7km, there is a shorter treck (2 km return).
 
  
After Kata Tjuta, head back to Uluru and Yulara. You can make a brief stop at the bottom of the climb to the top of the rock, but no need to try : it is heavily frowned upon by the aboriginals, and it is just plain dangerous.  
+
==Eat==
 +
[[Alice Springs]] has a large variety of restaurants, cafes and popular fast food chains.
  
Anyway, return at Yulara, and take the '''[http://www.ayersrockresort.com.au/sounds-of-silence/ Sounds of Silence]''' dinner experience. It is quite popular and you will probably have to make a reservation in the morning.
 
  
*'''Day six'''
+
==Drink==
  
Wake early, try to be at the sunrise viewing point at Uluru for a reverse effect of the sunset glow. Return to Uluru, and Walk around the base of Uluru. It will take two to three hours, there are many stops with explanations about the aboriginal mythology linked with the rock, as well as rock paintings. Some features are sacred, respect the place and do not take pictures.
+
Alice has just gone dry - so there is no drinking in public, all drinking must be done on private premises or in the selection of bars and restaurants.  
  
Take your vehicle, time to hit back the road. Head back towards the Stuart Highway on the Lesseter highway, take the turn on the Luritja road, but take the unsealed and rough Ernest Giles Road. The track will take you into some barren scenery. Just before reaching the Stuart Highway, turn left to enter the tiny '''[[Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve]]'''. The short loop trail into the reserve will bring you close to very visible craters left by pieces of a meteorites that disintegrated over the desert. One of the craters was deep enough to create some shadow and a temporary waterhole, so the bottom is a bit greenish compared to the incredibly flat and barren surroundings.
 
  
Drive back to the Stuart Highway, head back towards Alice Springs, but turn right to get to the '''Rainbow Valley''' before sunset (it is a 4WD drive with sandy spots from the Stuart highway to the reserve). The colors of the sandstone and rock formations are simply splendid. If you are lucky enough to get there just after the rain, you might get the chance to view the reflection of the rocks over the water.
+
==Stay Safe==
 +
The Australian Outback, although very beautiful is also very dangerous due to its extreme conditions. Be prepared and plan your trip before you start it. Plan fuel stops and always carry extra fuel as on some highways fuel and towns can be up to 800km apart. It is advised to carry a satellite phone or HF radio for emergencies if leaving the major roads. Water and food are also very important. If you become stranded in the outback stay calm and stay with your vehicle so emergency services are able to locate you. If you have communication devices use them. Mobile (cellular) phone coverage is limited to the regional centres.
  
For the night, head back to Alice, or stay at '''Jim's place'', 90 km south of Alice, a rustic roadhouse with a local attraction, Dinky the Dingo, a dog able to play the piano.
+
*'''Sun protection'''   Travellers should always wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses and at least an SPF 30+ sunscreen when outdoors. You should also be sure to drink plenty of water; a minimum of two litres per day is advised.
  
*'''Day seven'''
 
  
[[Image:SimpsonsDesert.JPG|thumb|300px|View of the desert from Chamber's Pillar]]
+
*'''Dehydration'''  Early symptoms include feeling thirsty, excess sweating, headache, dizziness and nausea. If dehydration continues, it can result in seizures, a loss of consciousness and even death.
  
From Alice Springs, take the dirt road towards Finke (the entrance of the road is close to the Airport) and head towards '''Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve | Chambers pillar'''. Make your first stop at the '''[[Ewaninga Conservation Reserve]]''', a small reserve only 30 km from Alice Springs (the entrance of the park is easy to miss). You will see some aboriginal carvings dating from the prehistoric times, that are presently still sacred.
 
  
Hit the track back. You can make a brief stop at the '''Maryvale Station''', an outback fuel station with some refreshment available. Depending on how confident you feel with your driving skills over sand, you might want to tell them you are heading to Chamber's pillar.
+
*'''Insects'''   The Territory is home to mosquitoes and other biting insects, so a reliable insect repellent, mosquito coils and appropriate clothing will make travelling more comfortable. If camping, keep your tent zipped and tap your shoes out before putting them on.
The drive from Maryvale to Chamber's pillar starts gently, but slowly becomes a hell of a 4WD track over rougher and rougher terrain. You will then have to drive over a rocky hill, which is ''really'' steep. No conventionnal vehicle can cope with this climb, and even with the 4WD you will have to be in very low gear. On top of the hill, you can have a view of the pillar rising above the desert.
 
After descending the other side of the hill (which is as steep as the climb, by the way), you will drive the last few kilometers over sand dunes. Take care at the top of each dune, as frontal accidents may happen.
 
  
The pillar was used as a landmark for pionneers, and bears some century old graffitis. There are furthermore fantastic views of the desert.
 
  
Head back to Alice for the evening, and eat your belly out at the Todd Mall.
+
===On the road===
  
*'''Day eight'''
+
As with all things in the remote desert, some care should be taken in planning to go out of town. A few of the trips listed are 4WD only and should only be undertaken by experienced 4WD drivers, with proper supplies and equipment. There are a number of tour companies available to help with this. Things to remember:
 +
*Either go with a local guide (best) or ensure someone checks over your itinerary & gear. This is a harsh environment!
 +
*You'll need a lot more water than you might think, and you may need extra fuel.
 +
*It's illegal to drive with uncovered firewood on your roof, so if you need to put it up there put a tarpaulin over it and secure it tightly.
 +
*When bush walking, wear long pants and closed-toe shoes; Central Australia is home to some of the most deadliest snakes in the world, but these snakes have very small fangs - a good pair of shoes or long pants will stop them from harming you.
 +
*Make sure someone knows you're going out and when to expect you back.
 +
*Beware of fire! Make sure your campfire is under control at all times, and put it out completely before you leave. Do not throw your cigarette out the window in this area, for your own safety.
  
Last day in Alice. Take your time to pay a visit to the '''Old telegraph station''' and buy the necessary souvenirs for the family, but most of all look back at your week and wonder how early explorers did what you did without a 4WD (do not forget to wash it, and return it). Take a shuttle bus to the airport to take your flight.
+
Comfort notice: If you are leaving to go out bush and it is not the dead of winter (July), you should bring a flynet. Flynets are fine mesh nets which cover your head. The flies don't bite but they do make a very enthusiastic attempt to get up your nose, in your ears and at your eyes; not being prepared can spoil what would otherwise be a wonderful experience.  
  
==Stay safe==
+
==Respect==
  
This is a desertic area, so always bring a lot of water with you if you go out hiking, and in any case bring a lot of water with you while you are driving. It can get '''dramatically hot''' in the summer, and even during other seasons, when it is only 'very hot during the day you should be wary of dehydratation. Always wear a hat, and put on strong sunscreen.  
+
Remember that you may not take alcohol or pornography into Aboriginal Communities, even as a tourist passing through. This applies for the Historical Precinct at Hermannsburg also. Travellers are not permitted into residential parts of the communities. These areas are well sign posted, so keep your eyes open and you will be fine.
 
 
Some unsealed roads are fairly remote, so take extra care, as mechanical problem can mean big trouble if you are not prepared.
 
The distance between fuel supplies is not to be underestimated. Check the autonomy of your vehicle, and refuel accordingly.
 
 
 
For more information, read carefully [[Driving in Australia#Outback driving]].
 
 
 
They are not directly life-threatening, but flies can become annoying when they buzz around you by the dozens. You may want to buy a fly-net for your head.
 
  
 
==Get out==
 
==Get out==
Line 172: Line 158:
 
To the East, the WAA line or the French line are 4WD tracks crossing the Simpson Desert to Birdsville in [[Queensland]], some 500 km East. Be ''extremely'' well prepared if you wish to tackle those routes.  
 
To the East, the WAA line or the French line are 4WD tracks crossing the Simpson Desert to Birdsville in [[Queensland]], some 500 km East. Be ''extremely'' well prepared if you wish to tackle those routes.  
  
===West from Alice Springs===
+
* [[Coober Pedy]] — spend the night in an opal mine
 +
* [[Darwin]] — The tropical capital city
 +
* [[Katherine]] — nature and culture, history and heritage, and gateway to the spectaular Katherine Gorge
 +
* [[Tennant Creek]] — Aboriginal culture, gold mining and pastoralism
  
The [[MacDonnells Ranges]], with plenty of waterholes for a refreshing swim in the inferno of the hotter months:
+
{{usableregion}}
* '''Honeymoon Gap'''
+
{{regionguide}}
* '''Simpson's Gap'''
+
{{IsPartOf|Northern Territory}}
* '''Stanley Chasm'''
 
* '''Wallace Rockhole'''
 
* '''Ormiston Gorge'''
 
* '''The Ochre Pits'''
 
* '''Serpentine Gorge'''
 
* '''Ellery Creek Big Hole'''
 
* '''Glen Helen Gorge''' - end of the sealed road, literally. All after this is 4WD. [http://www.glenhelen.com.au/ Glen Helen Resort] is located there and has a Cafe, restaurant, camping, accommodation.
 
* '''Redbank Gorge''' [http://www.wilmap.com.au/atts/105.html]
 
* '''Roma Gorge''' [http://bluegumpictures.com.au/australia/romagorge.php] - Aboriginal rock art
 
* '''[[Tnorala]]''', the remnants of a gigantic comet impact.
 
*'''[[Hermannsburg]]'''  is a small aboriginal art community, famous for their pottery and painting, for being the home of Albert Namatjira. A community of 500, founded by Lutheran missionaries, with several historical buildings.
 
  
 
+
[[Wikipedia:Central Australia]]
===Southwest of Alice Springs===
 
 
 
* The '''Finke River Track''' is the site of the annual Finke Desert Races, and is a really lovely 4WD track - but should definitely only be used by experienced four-wheel drivers, as there's every hazard you can imagine for a four wheel drive vehicle. The track is '''NOT MARKED'''!
 
* '''Palm Valley''', a somewhat more tropical greener place, Southwest of Alice
 
* Tyler's Pass
 
* Palm Valley
 
* ''Boggy Hole'' [http://www.exploroz.com/TrekNotes/RedCtr/Boggy_Hole.asp]
 
 
 
===East of Alice Springs===
 
 
 
* John Hayes Rock hole
 
* '''Emily Gap'''  [http://www.wilmap.com.au/atts/79.html ]
 
* ''' Jesse Gap''' [http://www.wilmap.com.au/atts/jessie_gap.html]
 
* '''Corroboree Rock''' [http://www.wilmap.com.au/atts/73.html]
 
* '''Trephina Gorge''' [http://www.australiawidetravel.com/inbound/attractions/Trephina_Gorge.htm]
 
* '''Ross Rives Homestead''' - Also home to [http://www.rossriverresort.com.au/flashabout.htm Ross River Resort]
 
* '''N'Dhala Gorge''' [http://www.australiawidetravel.com/inbound/attractions/NDhala_Gorge.htm]
 
* '''Ruby Gap Nature Park''' [http://www.australiawidetravel.com/inbound/attractions/Ruby_Gap.htm]
 
* '''Arltunga''' [http://www.australiawidetravel.com/inbound/attractions/Arltunga_Historical.htm] Gold Mining ghost town, 4WD track only, hotel, a camp area and a tourist center, hands on display about the area and gold mining. You can visit the old township and surrounds.
 
* '''Fossicking''' [http://www.nt.gov.au/dpifm/Minerals_Energy/index.cfm?header=Fossicking] - A few hours out of Alice are gem fields with Garnet, Zircon, Tourmaline, Apatite and various kinds of Quartz. Contact the Gem Tree for details. Garnet is the easiest to go for on your first try, as the garnet chips are easy to find on the surface and require no digging or special equipment.
 
 
 
===Southeast of Alice Springs===
 
 
 
* '''Ewaninga_Rock_Carvings''' [http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/find/ewaningarock.html] - petroglyphs
 
 
 
* '''Rainbow Valley''' and '''Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve''' both daytrips from Alice Springs require a 4WD.
 
 
 
===South of Alice Springs===
 
 
 
*'''Mount Conner''' - a plateau frequently mistaken for Ayre's Rock by travelers...
 
* '''[[Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park]]''', where you will see '''Uluru''', formerly called '''Ayers Rock''', and '''Kata Tjuta''', formerly known as '''The Olgas'''. These two are the  two most prominent features of Central Australia.  You can take camping trips from Alice Springs out to Uluru, sleeping in swags (waterproof sleeping bags) under the stars and cooking on a barbie. The buses are airconditioned (very necessary) and have all the equipment, and a guide/driver. This is a really good way to see Uluru and maybe Kata Tjuta with enough time and no worries! Uluru at sunrise and sunset is absolutely amazing.
 
* The '''Henbury Meteorites''' craters.
 
* '''Kings Canyon''' in '''Watarrka National Park'''. This is a lovely canyon walk; it's also available as a scenic helicopter flight. It is close to Uluru, and is included on may of the tours. It's not technically speaking a town, as you might intrepret it - it is a hotel at a canyon with a little swimming pool and a gas station. The food at the hotel is very good.
 
*''Tnorala'' aka ''Gosse Bluff'' aka ''Gosses Bluff Crater'' is registered sacred ground, a premit is required (available at King's Canyon) and overnighting is NOT permitted. It is actually the remnant of a gigantic comet impact. It is not on the direct road from Alice to Uluru, but on the unsealed Merenee loop road. There are 4WD tracks, picnic tables, and walking tracks. The dreamtime story told is worth a read; it's an amazing place.
 
*'''Ormiston Gorge''', a permanent water hole, has a serviced camping area and a permanant ranger station.
 
* '''Coober Pedy''' - The home of opal mining in Australia. Underground hotels, etc.
 
 
 
===North of Alice===
 
 
 
*'''[[Tennant Creek]]''' - small town, home base for seeing the Devil's Marbles
 
*'''[[Katherine]]''' - small town, the entrance to the tropical North
 
 
 
{{usable}}
 
{{regionguide}}
 
{{isIn|Northern_Territory}}
 

Latest revision as of 05:02, 7 June 2017



The Red Centre is the colloquial name given to the southern desert region of the Northern Territory in Australia.

Cities[edit]

  • Alice Springs — heart of Australia and hub of the region
  • Yulara — service station before entering the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Other Destinations[edit]

Red Centre
  • Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve — a spectacular solitary column towering 40 metres above the Simpson Desert plain
  • East MacDonnell Ranges — following Ross Highway to the east, you will find awesome gorges, gaps and rock formations
  • Ewaninga Conservation Reserve — gain insight into an ancient culture as you explore the small, six hectare Ewaninga Rock Carvings
  • Finke Gorge National Park — this ancient landscape includes desert oasis Palm Valley, home to a diverse range of plant species, many of which are rare and unique to the area
  • Rainbow Valley — a scenic natural reserve consisting of various formations of sandstones and rocks
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park — home to Australia's most recognisable natural icon.
  • Watarrka National Park — home to Kings Canyon, a mighty chasm reaching a depth of 270 metres with some great options for the less energetic to explore
  • West MacDonnell National Park — following Larapinta Drive westwards, it offers easily accessible swimming holes, chasms and gorges, bush walking, camping and four-wheel-driving

Understand[edit]

The Red Centre is the place where you will find the most famous monolith of Australia, Uluru and it is where the heart of the outback beats. The only town of sizable population is Alice Springs, the remainder of the population being scattered in smaller communities. The oxidized iron in the soil gives the whole area its distinctive and immediately recognizable reddish glow. Here you can connect with the oldest living culture on earth or listen to colourful yarns of the pioneering days at an outback pub.

Indigenous History[edit]

The Arrernte Aboriginal people have made their home in the Central Australian desert in and around Alice Springs for more than 50,000 years. The Aboriginal name for Alice Springs is Mparntwe. Three major groups Western, Eastern and Central Arrernte people live in Central Australia, their traditional land including the area of Alice Springs and East/West MacDonnell Ranges. They are also referred to as Aranda, Arrarnta, Arunta, and other similar spellings.

Arrernte country is rich with mountain ranges, waterholes, and gorges; as a result the Arrernte people set aside 'conservation areas' in which various species are protected. According to the Arrernte traditional stories, in the desert surrounding Alice Springs, the landscape was shaped by caterpillars, wild dogs, travelling boys, two sisters, euros, and other ancestral figures.

There are many sites of traditional importance in and around Alice Springs, such as Anthwerrke (Emily Gap), Akeyulerre (Billy Goat Hill), Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap), Atnelkentyarliweke (Anzac Hill), and Alhekulyele (Mt. Gillen). Many Arrernte people also live in communities outside of Alice Springs.

Talk[edit]

English is the most common language spoken in the Red Centre and hundreds of different Aboriginal languages are spoken by the indigenous people.

Get in[edit]

Remember, if you travel into an Aboriginal Community, you are not allowed to take alcohol or pornography. There are severe fines if caught. Also, when visiting Arts Centres, do not travel into residential areas (these are well sign posted).

By plane[edit]

There is an airport in Alice Springs. Currently Qantas has connecting flights to Darwin, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns and Perth. There is a flying shuttle to Uluru but Uluru has an airport (Yulara) too, so if you're just flying in to see the rock, you don't have to stop off at Alice. (Although you should!). Tiger Airways [7] is by far the cheapest way to get to Alice Springs.

By train[edit]

The Ghan is as infamous as the Orient Express, a long train ride over a large land area, and got even longer in 2004 with an extension right through to Darwin. Don't expect complete luxury on the Ghan, however. The rolling stock is rather dated, and while adequate, it was purchased used, and has not been highly refurbished. The scenery is nice though. Expect to pay a premium over the airfare.

By car[edit]

Outback, Australia. Street between Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Alice Springs

Alice Springs is 17 hours drive from Darwin, and 18 hours drive from Adelaide. The Stuart Highway from Adelaide is well-maintained and goes right through Coober Pedy, an underground town famous also for being the opal capital of the world (and worth stopping off for a visit on the way). It continues through Tennant Creek and Katherine all the way up to Darwin.

It is worthwhile reading the safety tips for Driving in Australia and always carrying water and ensuring you know the location and opening hours of your fuel and food stops.

Read the rental car conditions carefully. Cars rented locally in Alice Springs usually do not offer unlimited free kilometres. Rental cars hired outside of the Northern Territory may not be able to be driven into it. Driving after dark outside of the city limits may be prohibited.

By bus[edit]

Greyhound [8]] ply the route to Alice Springs from the north and the south.

Get around[edit]

Map of the Red Center

The sealed Stuart Highway running from Alice Springs to Adelaide crosses the area and is the major artery for local traffic (meaning you can actually cross several vehicles per hour). The Lasseter Highway is also sealed, and links the Stuart Highway with Uluru.

Consider renting a 4WD to explore areas beyond the Stuart Highway and Uluru. Several destinations can simply not be accessed by conventionnal vehicles. If you run out of fuel here, you're in big trouble. It is advisable to travel with other vehicles, the more the better.

The big rocks are actually a little distance from Yulara. where the accommodation and facilities are. If you are not with a tour, or didn't bring your car, you will need to decide how best to get to these locations. Hire cars can be expensive, and have limited kilometres; however shuttles to and from the rock are also expensive, so do the math and see what works best for you.


See[edit][add listing]

  • Alice Springs, an oasis in the middle of nowhere, and the link to the outer world for locals, and the natural choice to start your exploration of the region. Framed by the MacDonnell Ranges and an intense desert landscape, Alice Springs is Australia’s most famous outback town.


  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Lasseter Highway, Yulara, Northern Territory, +61 (8) 8956 1100, [1]. Few are ever prepared for a visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Uluru (Ayers Rock) is Australia's most recognisable natural icon. Standing 348 metres high, the monolith has a great cultural significance for the traditional Aboriginal owners, the Anangu people. The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is located 440km south-west of Alice Springs near the town of Yulara. A three-day permit to enter the National Park costs $25. A permit to enter the park may or may not be included in a tour you book. Ask your booking agent if your tour fee includes the permit to enter the park. As it is a sacred site, aboriginal communities wish tourists would not climb "the Rock". Nevertheless,it is still possible to climb, but the way is closed when temperatures are above 36°C.  edit
    On the top of Uluru Rock (Ayers Rock)
  • Curtin Springs Station, Lasseter Highway via Yulara, Northern Territory, +61 (8) 8956 2906, [2]. Outback hospitality – The way you wish it could be all the time. Curtin Springs is a working cattle station and Wayside Inn located on the Lasseter Highway just 84km east of Yulara, at the edge of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. It is owned and operated by the Severin family. The family took over in 1956 and still operate the station today.  edit


  • Museum of Central Australia, Araluen Cultural Precinct, Corner of Larapinta Drive and Memorial Avenue, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, +61 (8) 8951 1120. The Museum of Central Australia, in the Araluen Cultural Precinct, acts as an interpretive centre for Central Australia’s natural history. The exhibitions explore the unique features of the region through time and space, following the evolution of the landscape and the creatures that inhabited it. Featured is a replica of a local palaeontologic dig, an ancient waterhole with some surprising mega fauna including a giant freshwater crocodile and the largest bird that ever lived, Dromornis stirtoni, dated at eight million years old. Other exhibits include present day Central Australian mammals, reptiles, insects and meteorite fragments.  edit


  • Alice Springs Desert Park, Larapinta Drive, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, +61 (8) 8951 8788, [3]. In the space of just a few hours, you can discover many of the secrets of the Central Australian deserts at the Alice Springs Desert Park. Hundreds of the species of plants and animals found across Central Australian deserts can be seen, smelt and heard at the Desert Park. You will even have the opportunity to experience desert habitats as they are at night, seeing some of the animals near impossible to see in the wild. Entry fees apply.  edit


  • Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon), Kings Canyon, Watarrka National Park, Northern Territorysouth-west of Alice Springs (330km via the Red Centre Way, 450km via the Stuart and Lasseter Highways and Luritja Road), +61 (8) 8951 8250, [4]. Watarrka National Park, synonymous with its most famous landmark, Kings Canyon, is located 450km south west of Alice Springs in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta region of the Northern Territory. The park encompasses the western end of the George Gill Range and is home to a variety of unique native flora and fauna, including over 600 different plant species.  edit

Itineraries[edit]

The following itinerary will lead you through the best of the Red in a few days, however you will need a 4WD, so make a reservation beforehand. Make sure there is a little fridge with your vehicle to keep your supplies fresh. Red centre Itinerary

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Larapinta Trail, West MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, +61 (8) 8951 8250, [5]. The Larapinta Trail is an exciting long distance walking track through the West MacDonnell National Park in the heart of central Australia. The Trail runs for 223km along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs to Mt Sonder. The grandeur and timeless beauty of the Ranges are the backdrop and setting for the Trail, which is divided into twelve sections, providing walkers with an opportunity to experience an ancient landscape at their own pace.  edit


  • Simpsons Gap, 18km west of Alice Springs, via Larapinta Drive, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, +61 (8) 8951 8250. Simpsons Gap, 18km west of Alice Springs, is one of the best known attractions in the West MacDonnell National Park. A good time to visit is later in the afternoon or early morning when there is a good chance of sighting the rare Black-footed Rock Wallabies. The Ghost Gum walk provides an interesting introduction to the native plants of the region. The short walk to Cassia Hill gives excellent elevated views of the Ranges and the Simpsons Gap area. For something a little different, a sealed bicycle path meanders for 17km between Simpsons Gap and John Flynn's Grave. Allow around 45 minutes to explore the wonders of this area.  edit


  • Ellery Creek Big Hole, Namatjira Drive, Alice Springs, Northern Territory (90km west of Alice Springs). High red cliffs, a large waterhole and a sandy creek fringed by gums make this one of the most popular and picturesque picnicking spots in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Much more than just a popular place for the locals to take a refreshing dip, Ellery Creek Big Hole is also recognised as an internationally significant geological site. A three kilometre Dolomite walk provides an opportunity for visitors to explore some of the interesting formations. The West MacDonnell Ranges are the source of the water that has collected in a deep pool. Red River and Ghost Gums shelter the picnic area located nearby. Camping is permitted (fees apply).  edit


  • Uluru Camel Tours, Ayers Rock Resort, Yulara, Northern Territory, +61 (8) 8950 3030, [6]. With views of Uluru(Ayres Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) providing an inspiring backdrop, visit Uluru Camel Tours at the Ayers Rock Resort and get to know their remarkable and friendly camels. Get up close and personal and enjoy a short ride atop one of these gentle giants of the desert, or browse through the museum and display area and pick up a memento of your visit. A wonderful ‘hands on’ experience for young children and families alike.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

Alice Springs has a large variety of restaurants, cafes and popular fast food chains.


Drink[edit][add listing]

Alice has just gone dry - so there is no drinking in public, all drinking must be done on private premises or in the selection of bars and restaurants.


Stay Safe[edit]

The Australian Outback, although very beautiful is also very dangerous due to its extreme conditions. Be prepared and plan your trip before you start it. Plan fuel stops and always carry extra fuel as on some highways fuel and towns can be up to 800km apart. It is advised to carry a satellite phone or HF radio for emergencies if leaving the major roads. Water and food are also very important. If you become stranded in the outback stay calm and stay with your vehicle so emergency services are able to locate you. If you have communication devices use them. Mobile (cellular) phone coverage is limited to the regional centres.

  • Sun protection Travellers should always wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt, sunglasses and at least an SPF 30+ sunscreen when outdoors. You should also be sure to drink plenty of water; a minimum of two litres per day is advised.


  • Dehydration Early symptoms include feeling thirsty, excess sweating, headache, dizziness and nausea. If dehydration continues, it can result in seizures, a loss of consciousness and even death.


  • Insects The Territory is home to mosquitoes and other biting insects, so a reliable insect repellent, mosquito coils and appropriate clothing will make travelling more comfortable. If camping, keep your tent zipped and tap your shoes out before putting them on.


On the road[edit]

As with all things in the remote desert, some care should be taken in planning to go out of town. A few of the trips listed are 4WD only and should only be undertaken by experienced 4WD drivers, with proper supplies and equipment. There are a number of tour companies available to help with this. Things to remember:

  • Either go with a local guide (best) or ensure someone checks over your itinerary & gear. This is a harsh environment!
  • You'll need a lot more water than you might think, and you may need extra fuel.
  • It's illegal to drive with uncovered firewood on your roof, so if you need to put it up there put a tarpaulin over it and secure it tightly.
  • When bush walking, wear long pants and closed-toe shoes; Central Australia is home to some of the most deadliest snakes in the world, but these snakes have very small fangs - a good pair of shoes or long pants will stop them from harming you.
  • Make sure someone knows you're going out and when to expect you back.
  • Beware of fire! Make sure your campfire is under control at all times, and put it out completely before you leave. Do not throw your cigarette out the window in this area, for your own safety.

Comfort notice: If you are leaving to go out bush and it is not the dead of winter (July), you should bring a flynet. Flynets are fine mesh nets which cover your head. The flies don't bite but they do make a very enthusiastic attempt to get up your nose, in your ears and at your eyes; not being prepared can spoil what would otherwise be a wonderful experience.

Respect[edit]

Remember that you may not take alcohol or pornography into Aboriginal Communities, even as a tourist passing through. This applies for the Historical Precinct at Hermannsburg also. Travellers are not permitted into residential parts of the communities. These areas are well sign posted, so keep your eyes open and you will be fine.

Get out[edit]

The Stuart Highway is the only sealed option. Drive North, you will reach the tropical Northern end and Darwin. To the South, you will enter South Australia, with Adelaide at the end of the road.

If you have a 4WD, you can cut Northwest directly to the Kimberley on the Tanami Track, a relatively well graded dirt road crossing the Tanami Desert. It is a 800+km drive to Hall's Creek in Western Australia, with very little supplies along the way, and only a single fuel station at the remote Rabbit Flat Roadhouse (which is not open all the time, on top of that), roughly midway between Alice Springs and Hall's Creek.

To the West, you can take the unsealed Gunbarrel Highway starting at Kata Tjuta, and with a lot of patience and a good 4WD you could drive all the way to Perth (something like 2500 km away).

To the East, the WAA line or the French line are 4WD tracks crossing the Simpson Desert to Birdsville in Queensland, some 500 km East. Be extremely well prepared if you wish to tackle those routes.

  • Coober Pedy — spend the night in an opal mine
  • Darwin — The tropical capital city
  • Katherine — nature and culture, history and heritage, and gateway to the spectaular Katherine Gorge
  • Tennant Creek — Aboriginal culture, gold mining and pastoralism
This is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!