Red Centre

Uluru, NT. © James Fisher & Tourism Australia

Red Centre

Discover Australia's Red Centre, where Alice Springs offers access to the awe-inspiring landscapes of Uluru and Kata Tjuta, the MacDonnell Ranges and Kings Canyon. Soak up Aboriginal culture and rugged natural beauty on classic outback journeys; drive the Red Centre Way, hike the Larapinta Trail, ride a camel in the Simpson Desert or take the Ghan train journey from Darwin or Adelaide.

Simpson Desert, NT
Simpson Desert, NT

1. Alice Springs and surrounds

Stay in the famous outback town of Alice Springs, which sits in Australia’s red heart just 200 kilometres south of its geographic centre. From here you can bushwalk, four wheel drive or join a camel trek across the rolling sand dunes of the Simpson Desert. Bike ride to Simpsons Gap at dawn, discover different Aboriginal art styles along the Tanami Track and explore the rock art, artefacts and ceremonial sites near the small Aboriginal community of St Teresa.

Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa, NT
Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa, NT

2. Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park

See Uluṟu rise 348 metres from the desert in the deep centre of Australia, matching the light and weather with hues so vivid they upstage the sunset. Walk around Uluṟu’s base with an Aṉangu guide, and learn how it was created by spirit ancestors in the Dreamtime. You can even trace the battle scars they left behind. See Uluṟu on a motorcycle, from the back of a camel or on a scenic helicopter flight. Drink in its sunset glow with a glass of champagne, then return to a campfire dinner of barramundi, emu or kangaroo underneath a starlit sky. Just 40 kilometres away you’ll find Kata Tjuṯa - steep, rounded, russet domes formed through more than 500 million years of erosion. You can experience both wonders in Uluṟu- Kata Tjuṯa National Park, which offers tours by Aboriginal guides and accommodation ranging from campsites to luxury resort.

Kings Canyon, Watarrka National Park, NT
Kings Canyon, NT

3. Kings Canyon and Watarrka National Park

Trek to the rim of Kings Canyon for breathtaking views across the rugged bluffs and gorges of Watarrka National Park. The canyon’s towering rock walls shelter palm-filled crevices and pockets of lush green in otherwise inhospitable desert. See rare plants from a lone-gone wetter age and swim in the tropical pools of the Garden of Eden. Explore the weathered rock domes of the Lost City. See sunset at Carmichael Crag, take the Kathleen Springs Walk to a pretty waterhole or trek overnight on the Giles Track.  If camping doesn’t appeal, spend the night in a resort or wilderness lodge.

Finke Gorge, NT
Finke Gorge, NT

4. Finke Gorge National Park

Four wheel drive next to towering sandstone cliffs and the mostly sandy Finke River. Mostly dry in Finke Gorge National Park. Explore the desert oasis of Palm Valley, the only place in the world you’ll find the Red Cabbage Palm. You can meander through the slender palms on the Arankaia Walk or the longer Mpulungkinya Walk. Afterwards, follow the short Kalaranga Lookout Walk for spectacular views of the rock amphitheatre circled by rugged cliffs. Or learn about the mythology of the Western Arrernte Aboriginal people on the popular two-hour Mpaara Walk. See long-limbed gums stretch over glimmering water and mountain ranges turn from purple to burning ochre in the setting sun.

MacDonnell Ranges, NT
MacDonnell Ranges, NT

5. MacDonnell Ranges

Walk the Larapinta Trail or Emu Dreaming path to Ormiston Gorge and Pound, past graceful red river gums, wallabies and cool, clear waterholes.  Marvel at the gorge’s sheer walls rising 300 metres out of Ormiston Creek, then dive into the waterhole that is 14 metres deep. You can also cool off in Ellery Creek Big Hole, Redbank Gorge and picturesque Glen Helen Gorge. See rock wallabies in and around the ridges and ghost gums of Simpsons Gap. Walk to Standley Chasm and see its steep walls blaze red in the midday sun. Don’t miss the 20 kilometre wide crater at Gosse Bluff, or Tnorala to the Western Arrernte Aboriginal people. Their dreaming story is a little more magical than the scientific explanation which says it was formed by a comet crashing to Earth about 130 million years ago. In the East MacDonnell Ranges, you can bush walk, camp, four-wheel-drive and visit Trephina Gorge and the gold rush ghost town of Arltunga.

The Devils Marbles are huge granite boulders scattered across a wide, shallow valley, 100 kilometres south of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory. The Devils Marbles are located in the traditional country of the Warumungu, Kaytetye, Alyawarra and Warlpiri people. They call the Devils Marbles Karlu Karlu, which literally translates as ‘round boulders’.

Kata Tjuta, formerly known as The Olgas, is a group of large ancient rock formations approximately 30 kilometres away from Uluru in Australia’s Red Centre. Together these giant stone formations form the two major landmarks within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The 36 domes that make up Kata Tjuta are spread over an area of more than 20 kilometres. The highest point is Mount Olga, which was named in honour of Queen Olga of Württemberg.

Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory. Sitting at the western end of the George Gill Range, Kings Canyon is approximately midway between Alice Springs and Uluru. This ancient formation of tall red rock faces that soar above dense palm forests of palms is an important conservation area and refuge for more than 600 species of native plants and animals, many unique to the area.

World Heritage-listed Uluru is one of Australia’s most iconic symbols. Located in the heart of Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia’s Red Centre, Uluru is an ancient landscape, rich in Australian indigenous culture and spirituality. There are many ways to experience the majesty of Uluru and the beauty of this unique desert landscape. Take a walk with an Aboriginal guide and learn about ancient traditions and stories from the Dreamtime. See it from the skies by helicopter or hot air balloon. Ride across the ochre coloured desert on a Harley Davidson motorcycle or on the back of a camel.

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More information

Red CentreFind out more about the Red Centre on the Tourism Northern Territory website.