Northern Territory Red Centre Holidays
This is the red centre that lies at the heart of Australia, a place of rugged desert terrains, enormous landscapes and changing colours, Aboriginal dreamtime folklore and sacred sites, rock canyons, dry creek beds and ghost gums.
Off the major highway, many of the roads are unsealed and some sites will require 4WD vehicles for access, not uncommon in the Northern Territory.
Always check on road conditions before setting out. Most of the the popular sites around Alice Springs can be viewed from the air in light planes, helicopter and hot air balloon.
All the popular sites are covered by tour operators based in Alice Springs. "The Alice" can be reached by train from Adelaide in "The Ghan" which offers three classes of travel and takes around 20 hours for the trip.
Places Of Interest - Red Centre
Alice Springs - the major centre for the region. Visit the Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre to try your hand at a boomerang, spear and didjeridu and the Alice Springs Desert Park for the flora and fauna of the desert and the traditional Aboriginal land management techniques.
Try the Anzac Hill lookout to get your bearings with views across the MacDonnell Ranges. The Araluen Arts and Entertainment Centre houses the paintings of Albert Namatjira and local artists. The Central Australian Museum exhibits fossils, native animals, meteorites, Aboriginal art and culture. Visit the grave of John Flynn, founder of The Flying Doctor Service. Take a camel ride or visit the local casino.
West MacDonnell Ranges - the place to see some of central Australia's most spectacular desert scenery. The West MacDonnell National Park is a day trip from Alice Springs and is home to Simpsons Gap, Standby Chasm, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, the Ochre Pits and the Glen Helen, Redbank and Serpentine Gorges. Pockets of permanent water dot the ranges and sustain many unique animals and plants.
Further afield and to the south is the Finke Gorge National Park, best known for the unique and rare palms in Palm Valley. This is a 4WD area. Visit the nearby Hermannsburg Historical Precinct Lutheram Mission and home of the famous Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira. Further west to Gosse Bluff, the site of a meteorite impact with its 25km crater diameter. It is best seen from the air or Tylers Pass to the north.
East MacDonnell Ranges - does not have the same wealth of attractions as its western counterpart but more people are now discovering its attractions. Good bushwalking and 4WD exploring of the countryside plus Arltunga ghost town and the outback bush pub. Try gem fossicking at The Gemtree. The Ruby Gap Nature Park, strictly 4WD, is for the adventurous. Camp out at Trephina Gorge with its quartzite cliffs and river red gums. Spend some time with the locals at Ross River Homestead.
Uluru, The Olgas and Kings Canyon - the instantly recognisable icons of the Northern Territory and central Australia. Uluru or Ayers Rock as it was known before handover to its Aboriginal owners, is the most famous rock in the world. It is 348 metres high with a girth at ground level of 9.4 km. It has been estimated that only one-third of the rock is above ground. It is best viewed at sunset.
To climb Uluru requires some effort and should be done early in the morning to avoid the heat later in the day. Carry plenty of water. An Aboriginal sacred site with guided tours available. It's possible to tour the area by Harley Davidson.
50 km to the west is Mt Olga (aka The Olgas), or Kata Tjuta to give them their Aboriginal name, meaning "many heads". A collection of 36 weathered red domes, also best viewed at sunset. Considered by some to be even more impressive than Uluru. Walks available for both novice and experienced walkers.
North of Uluru and The Olgas is Kings Canyon in the Watarrka National Park. This spectacular formation of weathered red sandstone faces drops 300 metres vertically to rock pools and lush vegetation in the canyon floor. Take the 6 km return walk to the canyon rim.
The Simpson Desert - a Northern Territory travel destination for the 4WD enthusiast wanting to see remote regions that have not changed through the millenia. The desert spills over the border into Queensland and South Australia. A region of searing heat, sandhills and herds of camels.
Visit the 50 metre explorers navigational aid in the shape of Chambers Pillar, the Ewaninga rock carvings and the banded sandstone layers at sunset in the Rainbow Valley Reserve.