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Exploring Uluru and Australia's Red Centre

Here's our tips to getting the most out of a trip to Australia's Red Centre

As isolated as it may seem, it can actually get pretty busy in Australia’s Red Centre in the winter months. Being one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks, thousands of people visit every year.


So if you want to experience the Rock without the Crowds, it’s not a bad idea to visit in Summer.


Of course it’s HOT in Summer – with temperatures reaching the late 30s by mid-morning. Here’s some suggestions to help you enjoy those beautiful landscapes and the surrounding rich indigenous culture without melting (down).


1. Get up early.

It’s actually not unbearable to get up at 430am to watch the sun rise – and it’s blissfully cool. Voyages Resort’s Desert Awakenings tour is a great introduction to Uluru.


On arrival at our viewing point, we’re fed bacon and egg rolls, bush tea and damper – enough to keep us all happy until the sun comes up (magnificently) just to the left of the Rock.


We’re then taken to the Cultural Centre where we learn the significance of Uluru’s caves, rock paintings and creation stories as told by the local Anangu people.


2. Take your time – don’t cram it in.

It’s possible to do a day trip to Kings Canyon from Uluru, but I highly recommend taking the time to stay overnight there. For one – you get to experience the wonderful Kings Canyon Resort, and two – you’re able to enjoy the Rim Walk in the cool of the earlt morning.


We arrive at Kings Canyon Resort in the late afternoon, in time to take a (short) Creek Walk in the Canyon’s valley before a helicopter ride over it.


Our 15-minute helicopter tour over Watarrka National Park takes us over the canyon, along Kings Creek and over to Carmichael Crag. It’s well worth the investment as it gives us a great overview of the amazing rock formations we’ll be walking through the following morning.


We leave the resort at 6am and start our climb shortly after (it’s a 5-minute drive to the starting point). It hits about 30 degrees halfway through the walk at 830am but thankfully there’s a breeze that makes it bearable.


You can’t properly experience Kings Canyon without doing the Rim Walk. On the scale of “moderate” to “strenuous”, the guidebooks generally call the Rim Walk “strenuous” and only suitable for fit people.


It’s not. The first part is the hardest – a steep climb/scramble to the top of the canyon which takes about 30 minutes. From there, it’s an easy 6.5km walk, with a few ups and downs – easily achieved provided you have enough water and you don’t attempt it in the heat of the day.


3. Take in the sunsets.

Uluru Camel Tours will pick you up for their Sunset tour from the hotel lobby at about 630pm, roughly an hour and a half before sunset.


Our camel train meanders casually through the sand dunes with Uluru and Kata Tjuta in the background. It has to be said – camels are hilarious, each with distinct personalities making very strange noises.


Voyages Resort’s Sounds of Silence is another sunset outing not to be missed. We chose to do this on our last night at Uluru and it was possibly the highlight of the trip.


Drinks and canapés are served on a sand dune overlooking Uluru and Kata Tjuta as the sun sets, before a sumptuous barbeque buffet dinner in the desert.


The resident star talker joins us a again to give us a tour of the night sky as we gorge ourselves on barramundi and kangaroo. And I even get to see the moons of Jupiter through his very impressive telescope.



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Written by: Deborah Dickson-Smith
Published: 20 February 2013

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