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Explorer's Way - Northern Territory

Explorer's Way

Stuart Highway, Northern Territory and South Australian border, Kulgera, Northern Territory, 0872
Email: info@travelnt.com

The Explorer's Way bisects the Australian continent from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north. It covers over 3,000 kilometres and follows the corridor blazed in the 1860s by explorer John McDouall Stuart for the 'Overland Telegraph'. The township of Alice Springs is nestled among the MacDonnell Ranges. A detour to World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, five hours drive south west of Alice is a must. Following the Explorer's Way stop at historic outback pubs and quirky roadhouses. Marvel at the Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles, where huge red spherical boulders balance precariously on one another. Another major stop is Tennant Creek, site of Australia's last gold rush in the 1920s and 30s. Mataranka has thermal springs and a fascinating pioneering history. Katherine, further up the road, is the gateway to the famous Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park and is where the Explorer's Way intersects with the Savannah Way tourism drive. Darwin is only 320 kilometres from Katherine, there are a number of detour routes. The Nature's Way tourism drive branches off at the historic gold mining town of Pine Creek to World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park and in the west Douglas-Daly and Litchfield National Park.

N'Dhala Gorge Nature Park, Alice Springs Area, Northern Territory

NDhala Gorge Nature Park

90 kilometres east of Alice Springs, via Ross Highway, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, 0870
Website: www.nretas.nt.gov.au/national-parks-and-reserves/parks/find/ndhalagorge
9000682 Phone Number: 61 08 8951 8250
Fax Number: 61 08 8951 8290

N'Dhala Gorge Nature Park is a fascinating site that protects thousands of prehistoric rock carvings. Located within the East MacDonnell Ranges, 90 kilometres east of Alice Springs, this important archaeological and heritage site also protects rare plants. Follow the 1.5 kilometre (one hour return) marked walking track into the gorge. Signs along the track interpret some of the approximately 6,000 individual stone engravings or petroglyphs. N'Dhala Gorge is also significant for its rare plants such as the Peach-leafed Poison Bush and the Undoolya Wattle. N'Dhala Gorge Nature Park contains Eastern Arrernte men's sacred sites, including petroglyphs, art sites and shelter sites. The traditional owners call the area Ilwentje. The petroglyphs have been created using either a fine pecking or pounding technique, which are thought to have been used in two different periods. Access to the nature park is via the Ross Highway. Once you pass the Ross River Homestead the track becomes accessible to four-wheel drive vehicles only. Pitch a tent in the bush camping area, which has toilets and picnic tables (camping fees apply). No water is provided so visitors should bring their own supplies.

Finke Gorge National Park, Hermannsburg, Northern Territory, Australia

Finke Gorge National Park

Larapinta Drive, 140 kilometres west of Alice Springs, Hermannsburg, Northern Territory, 0872
Website: www.nretas.nt.gov.au/national-parks-and-reserves/parks/find/finkegorge
9000712 Phone Number: 61 08 8951 8250
Fax Number: 61 08 8951 8290

Explore the ancient landscapes of Finke Gorge National Park, 140 kilometres west of Alice Springs. Walk into valleys of rare plants, or follow a popular four-wheel drive route. The 46,000-hectare park protects the desert oasis Palm Valley, home to a diverse range of rare and unique plant species. Those plants include the Red Cabbage Palm, which is only found here - botanic remnants from millions of years ago, when Central Australia was lush with tropical forests. The Finke River is claimed to be one of the oldest in the world, with areas dating back 350 million years. For experienced four-wheel drivers, the popular Finke drive route is an adventurous drive down the Finke River to Illamurta Springs Conservation Reserve and Watarrka National Park. The park and nearby areas are significant to the Western Arrernte Aboriginal people and there is also evidence of early European settlement. Follow one of the marked trails short distances to survey the area from lookouts, or to find out more about the mythology of the Western Arrernte Aboriginal culture. Pitch a tent in the campground - toilets, showers and gas barbecues are provided and fees apply.

Maruku Retail Gallery, Uluru Area, Northern Territory, Australia

Maruku Retail Gallery

Cultural Centre, Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park, Yulara, Northern Territory, 0872
Email: punu@maruku.com.au
Website: www.maruku.com.au
9000739 Phone Number: 61 08 8956 2153
Fax Number: 61 08 8956 2410

Enjoy the handcrafted work direct from the desert country of Central Australia. The beautifully displayed gallery gives you the perfect opportunity to meet, understand the culture and purchase works from the artists, knowing that all funds are return to the Anangu people. There's no better reason or place to buy art work than at the base of Uluru / Ayers Rock. Maruku Arts and Crafts was established in 1984 by and for Aboriginal people in response to a growing need for effective co-ordination of marketing and support services to Aboriginal craftspeople living within the Central Desert Lands. Maruku Retail Gallery, 'Punuku Ngurra' is located at the Cultural Centre within Uluru Kata -Tjuta National Park, providing a service to some 800 craftsperson's living in communities and homelands. Items are sold through the Maruku Retail Gallery and wholesale to shops and galleries throughout the world and through prestige exhibitions. To enjoy Maruku Retails Gallery you must enter Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park. An entry fee of AUD25.00, per person over the age of 16 years, for a consecutive three day pass is required.

Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve

97 kilometres south of Alice Springs, via Stuart Highway, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, 0870
Website: www.nretas.nt.gov.au/national-parks-and-reserves/parks/find/rainbowvalley
9000653 Phone Number: 61 08 8951 8250
Fax Number: 61 08 8951 8259

Marvel at the ancient landscape of the aptly named Rainbow Valley - sandstone bluffs and cliffs with exposed bands of coloured rock. These free standing cliffs form part of the James Range, and are a favourite subject of photographers who capture their varied shapes and colours at dawn or dusk when the rainbow-like rock bands are highlighted. There are unmarked trails for bushwalking around the bluff area and to other locations along the range The reserve is also rich in evidence of Aboriginal occupation. You will see rock engravings or petroglyphs and paintings as well as grinding stones and stone tool chips, especially around the hills and ridges. The coloured rock bands in the sandstone cliffs were caused by water. The red iron of sandstone dissolved and was drawn to the surface during the dry season. This dark red capping is hard and weathers slowly, whereas the softer white sandstone below erodes quickly into loose sand. Weathering and erosion are also responsible for the valley shape, where sandstone blocks have been eroded into rock faces and squared towers. Access is for four-wheel drive vehicles only.
A camping and picnic area is provided.

Araluen Mountain Bike Trails, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

Araluen Mountain Bike Trails

Alice Springs Kampari Scout Hall, off Larapinta Drive, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, 0870
Email: visinfo@tourismca.com.au
9134579 Phone Number: 61 08 8952 5800

Araluen Mountain Bike Trails includes more than 15 kilometres of dedicated single mountain bike track and an extensive network of fire trail set amongst the West MacDonnell Ranges. The trails are unlike any other in Australia due to the arid rangeland terrain, ideal for mountain biking. The trails are managed by the Central Australian Rough Rider Mountain Bike Club, who are dedicated local mountain bike rider with a strong commitment to social, recreational riding, trail development and junior rider development. Regular social rides depart from the Alice Springs Scout Hall at the corner of Larapinta and Lovegrove Drives on Wednesday nights. Trails are suitable for a range of riders, with loops available for juniors and novice riders. Trail use is free for all Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) members and members are cover by the MTBA insurance policy while riding on the trail network. Non members are not covered, but can participate in social rides for a AUD5.00 a day license. For information, a map and times, contact the Tourism Central Australia or visit the facebook group, Alice Springs Mountain Bike Trails.

Mulga Camp, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

Mulga Camp

38 kilometres along the Larapinta Trail, starting from the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, West Macdonnell Ranges, Northern Territory, 0870
Website: www.nretas.nt.gov.au/national-parks-and-reserves/parks/walks/larapinta
9104234 Phone Number: 61 08 8951 8250
Fax Number: 61 08 8951 8290

Mulga Camp is located along Section 2 of the Larapinta Trail, a 223 kilometres walking trail that follows the rocky spine of the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs west to Mt Sonder. Mulga Camp is a good place to take a break or pitch a tent and stay the night. Mulga Camp is located about 13 kilometres west of Simpsons Gap, and is only accessible on foot. About a kilometre before you walk into Mulga Camp, the trail passes a low rise where small dykes of whitish pegmatite outcrop from the brown schist. The camp is located on an alluvial creek flat and gets its name from the grove of tall mulga trees that shade the site. Further along the trail, west of Mulga Camp, you will cross a ridgeline with spectacular panoramic views of Mount Lloyd.

Giles Track, Kings Canyon, Northern Territory, Australia

Giles Track

Watarrka National Park, Kings Canyon, Northern Territory, 0872
Email: larapinta.trail@nt.gov.au
Website: www.nretas.nt.gov.au/national-parks-and-reserves/parks/walks/gilestrack
9105643 Phone Number: 61 08 8951 8250
Fax Number: 61 08 8951 8290

The Giles Track is a 22-kilometre walking track located within Watarrka National Park. This two-day hike offers the chance to experience impressive natural landscape and wildlife, indigenous history and culture, and the heritage of Central Australia. The rewards of this walk include dramatic views across wilderness that remains virtually unchanged since first described by Ernest Giles. Trek through beautiful valleys, beehive-shaped sandstone formations, and across rocky watercourses. Scattered across the range and just waiting to be discovered are many grinding stones, stone blades, stencilled art and petroglyphs, as the flat, rocky plateau made for relatively easy and safe travelling for Aboriginal people. Native wildlife to spot includes spinifex pigeons, rock-wallabies, euros, goannas and pythons. The Giles Track is named after the first European to explore the George Gill Range in 1872. It follows the southern rim of the range from Kings Canyon to Kathleen Springs, although it can be walked in either direction. It is recommended as an overnight hike for experienced bushwalkers of average fitness. Alternatively, access from the Lilla car park via Tjintjit Tjintjit Spur allows those on a tighter schedule the chance of a day walk in either direction.

Wallaby Gap, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

Wallaby Gap

14 kilometres along the Larapinta Trail, starting from the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, West Macdonnell Ranges, Northern Territory, 0870
Website: www.nretas.nt.gov.au/national-parks-and-reserves/parks/walks/larapinta
9104233 Phone Number: 61 08 8951 8250
Fax Number: 61 08 8951 8290

Wallaby Gap is a sandy creek bed shaded by walls of red rock in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Named after its population of Black-footed rock wallabies, it is also located along Section 1 of the Larapinta Trail, a 223 kilometre walking track through the ranges. The gap is also a rewarding place to sit and watch for birds - a temporary pool inside the gap commonly attracts White-plumed honeyeaters, Zebra finches, Pied butcherbirds and Crested pigeons. The deep, narrow passage was created by a small watercourse carving through the tough gneiss before draining into Roe Creek. The campground is located about 300 metres south of Wallaby Gap, but camping is permitted only for walkers on the Larapinta Trail. Vehicle access is also for Larapinta Trail walkers only - a key is available for the locked gate from the Visitor Information Centre on Gregory Terrace in Alice Springs.

Central Craft, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

Central Craft

Araluen Cultural Precinct, Corner Larapinta Drive and Memorial Avenue, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, 0870
Email: info@centralcraft.org.au
Website: www.centralcraft.org.au
9000708 Phone Number: 61 08 8952 4417
Fax Number: 61 08 8953 5465

Watch artists at work printing silk, creating jewellery, pottery, and woodwork, and buy souvenirs from the shop at Central Craft in Alice Springs. Head to the studio where you can watch and talk to the artists at work, before exploring the shop where local art and craft is sold. There's a diverse range of crafts including jewellery, ceramics, weaving, watercolour paintings, felted wraps, enamel work, woodwork, knitted and crocheted beanies, printed fabric, 'sustainable couture' recycled clothing and more. Find a unique memento of your visit to Alice Springs or the perfect handcrafted gift. Central Craft is a not-for-profit member-based organisation located in a building that was the former Connellan Airways mess at the Araluen Cultural Precinct on Larapinta Drive in Alice Springs.