The Red Centre is bursting with incredible places to see and things to do. It’s definitely a place that should be on your Aussie bucket list. The Red Centre represents the iconic Australian outback and is teaming with life. It has everything from natural wonders, bush landscapes and unique wildlife. Here are our top 3 places to experience in the Red Centre.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Of course, Uluru makes the top of the list, and for good reason! There really is something special about Uluru and Kata-Juta (The Olga’s). They are the crown jewels of The Red Centre and until you have been there yourself to experience and feel the power, the culture, and the beauty of the rock formations, it’s hard to explain, and it’s deeply moving.
There are so many ways to explore Uluru and Kata-Tjuta, and can be done in complete luxury or on a budget. There are guided tours, day hikes, camel rides, Segway tours and bike riding. Or you can just drive around to the many viewing areas and take in these magical formations at sunrise and sunset and bask in all their glory, and of course, get your insta-worthy shots!
An absolute must-do while you’re visiting the area, is to see Bruce Munro’s ‘Field Of Light’ installation. An incredible display of 50,000 coloured LED lights scattered through the spinifex grass with Uluru as the backdrop. Watch the lights come to life as the sun sets on the horizon with Uluru in the backdrop. Once it’s dark, you can walk down into the display, with the stars shining above you. It is true magic.
Pro Tip: There’s no free camping, only the Ayres Rock Resort accommodation, which usually has special deals and offers, so keep an eye on their website and make sure to book in advance during the tourist season (May-September).
Watarrka National Park – Kings Canyon
Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park, is a lesser known gem in the Red Centre but boasts some serious wow-factor and the views across the valley are breathtaking, especially as the sun is rising.
The most scenic way to get to Watarrka National Park is driving through the West MacDonnell Ranges and via the Mereenie Loop Track which has 200kms of dirt road and is a great way to experience the vastness and landscapes of the Red Centre on your way to Uluru. You can see the escarpment from miles away before you arrive, building your excitement as you draw closer!
Pro Tip: Plan your fuel consumption! Fuel up in Alice Springs and carry extra fuel with you if possible. Fuel is very expensive once you leave the larger towns and there are long distances between fuel stations.
The best way to explore Kings Canyon is by hiking the iconic Rim Walk as the sun rises. Set off early and leave from camp before sunrise, so that you can start your hike in the cool of the early morning. The glow of the morning sun will illuminate the valley below and highlights the 300 m sandstone rock face, for which the canyon is famous for.
The early morning hike is quiet, cool, and pure magic to see the canyon come to life as the sun rises. Take lots of snacks and take your time to explore the hidden gems that the hike offers, like the Garden of Eden. The hike is 7.4kms and has many stairs to the top, but it’s worth it! Once you’ve explored the canyon, head back down to the bottom before the heat of the day and spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool at the Kings Canyon Resort. It’s an epic place to explore and definitely one for the bucket list.
Tjoritja West MacDonnell Ranges
The “West Macs” as they are affectionately known, stretch 644kms from east to west, west of Alice Spring and is the home of the famous Larapinta Trail. There is so much to explore in the West Macs, and you can spend anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks exploring the extensive and striking gorges, sandy water holes, escarpment lookouts, or enjoying some of the many hikes and day walks through each section of the West Macs.
The West Macs are teeming with bush flora and fauna and are rich with aboriginal significance and artefacts. Some highlights include the Ochre Pits and the striking landscapes made famous by the Aboriginal artist, Albert Namatjira.
There are so many highlights along the West MacDonnell Ranges, including Ellery Creek Big Hole, Omiston Gorge and Standley Chasm.
A great place to cool off and refresh is Glen Helen Gorge, 133kms west of Alice Springs. Glen Helen Gorge is a permanent water hole and the junction point where the Finke River makes its way to the Simpson Desert. It’s also where you can take in views of Mount Sonder.
Glen Helen Gorge is one of the few spots where you can sit in the air-conditioned pub and enjoy a cold schooner after a swim.
The Red Centre region is so unique and is the ultimate representation of the Australian outback, rich in Aboriginal culture and natural beauty. Getting there can be a bit of a mission, but definitely somewhere you should plan to stay for a while and explore, there’s so much to see and do.
Read Next: Your Ultimate Guide To The Red Centre Way