Go walkabout in Australia’s Red Centre
How can one of the most inhospitable places on the planet be so arrestingly beautiful at the same time? Australia’s Red Centre is a vast desert landscape that titillates travellers with its deep rich colours, striking rock formations and wide banks of ancient creeks that haven’t changed their infrequent flow since the beginning of time.
1.Discover the Valley of the Winds
One of the most intricate trails, winding its way in between the smooth surface of Kata Tjuta‘s 36 domed rock formations, is known as The Valley of the Winds Walk.
This 7.4 km loop can initially deceive you with its relatively easy terrain but you should be prepared to work hard at the undulating and diverse landscape to deserve the reward of stunning views over the valley. The Karu and Karingana lookouts will certainly challenge you with their steep incline and a few loose rocks on the way. Once you’re past these view points, the walk will take you down between the domes, through creek beds and away into a world of your own.
We loved the vibrant colours and swishing of the wind, being the only sound to break the silence. Kata Tjuta can get very hot in the middle of winter, let alone summer, so plan your trip accordingly.
2.Experience the magic of Uluru
The debate whether to climb Uluru or choose to walk around its base instead is red hot, just like the rock itself. Conquering it has always been highly alluring and you’ll need to decide for yourself whether this is the best way to experience it.
The rock will have you utterly breathless, aching, and scared at times if you try climbing it. Yet for those who dare, there is a reward at the top. The views of the plains that surround it stretch forever. It is quite a sight and definitely an experience of a lifetime.
If however the climb isn’t your choice, the 10.6km loop around Uluru’s base offers an alternative to get up close and personal with the famous rock. The walk normally takes between 2 and 3 hours and you can either walk it at your own leisure or come in the morning to enjoy the first section in the company of a ranger, who will share with you the story of the mala Tjukurpa (rufous hare-wallaby people), describe the joint management of the park, point to you the rock art, and explain traditional Anangu culture.
The Anangu people, the traditional caretakers of the region, prefer you don’t climb Uluru, however, the climb remains open and the choice to climb the rock remains completely up to you for the moment. There is no cost or booking required and you can leave the decision for the day you visit.
3.Visit an ancient Palm Valley
Palm Valley is the highlight of the 46,000 hectares of Finke Gorge National Park and well worth the challenges the dirt track puts in your way, as you negotiate it with your 4×4 to reach this impressive ancient oasis of rare palm trees.
The Finke River ranks amongst the oldest in the world with some 250 million years under its belt. It is estimated it has been flowing its current course for around 100 million years, leaving behind a striking landscape of deep sculpted gorges.
You’ll need a high clearance 4×4 vehicle and know what to do with it. The trails are challenging and, this being one of the most inhospitable place in Australia, you don’t want to get stuck here. Alternatively you can join a tour that leaves from Alice Springs and let the driving rest in someone else’s hands.