For a true Aussie getaway, there’s nowhere more quintessential than our charismatic Red Centre. After all, millions of foreigners flock here every year from the four corners of the globe, so why too wouldn't we locals don our wide-brimmed hats, whip out our cameras and join in to explore? From camel rides to museums, there's no shortage of things to do. Here's a rundown of the most amazing ways to experience Australia's sprawling desert heart.
Join a sunrise rim walk at Kings Canyon
At its highest point the ancient sandstone cliffs of Kings Canyon soar more than 300 metres high, and while the Rim Walk starts off with a challenging 500 steps to conquer, you’ll quickly realise the views are worth the burn. Peer deep down into the canyon dotted with palm forest and out across the arid plains. The best time to complete the walk is at sunrise – not only for the incredible dawn colours in the sky and the peaceful ambiance that only daybreak can bring, but because it’s the coolest time to trek to the summit. Otherwise, those looking to take it slow can opt for an easier, shady walk that trails along the canyon floor.
Spend a night in Alice Springs
Don’t leave Alice Springs in a blur of billowing red dust behind you – stop for a night to experience what this remote desert town is all about. Perched amongst mystical natural landscapes and home to a vibrant Aboriginal culture, while it’s only small, it boasts a thriving local arts scene. Drop into the Araluen Arts Centre and the Mbantua Fine Art Gallery and Cultural Museum, or get a dose of Aussie history at the Museum of Central Australia and the Aboriginal Australia Culture Centre. Other to-dos in Alice Springs include the Telegraph Station Historical Reserve, the School of the Air Visitor Centre, Olive Pink Botanic Garden and Alice Springs Desert Park.
Sit down to a sunset dinner at Uluru
As enchanting as it is in the brightness of day, there’s no resisting the magic of a desert sunset where Uluru takes centre stage, glowing bright crimson red before a show of vivid colours transforming in the sky. Enjoy it with some fine Australian wine in hand at a Sound of Silence Dinner, a unique gourmet BBQ with easily the best view in the country. Tuck into native game and bush salads, enjoy a traditional Aboriginal dance performance and once the sky turns dark, turn your eyes upwards. There’ll be an expert star gazer on hand to help you make sense of the incredible starry display on show in the heavens above.
Take a 4WD safari to Palm Valley
Create your own tracks in the red sands of the Outback on a 4WD safari adventure. Pack a picnic, buckle up and set off for Palm Valley along the dry bed of the Finke River, one of the oldest watercourses in the world. Pull up to admire incredible rock formations, white sands and a peaceful oasis of palm trees and glistening rock pools at Palm Valley. The strange formations at the Amphitheatre is another sure highlight, and you may even get the chance to visit Hermannsburg on the way back to Alice Springs, an Aboriginal community and historic precinct rich in Aboriginal art.
Catch the Uluru Camel Cup
While you can explore the Red Centre at any time of year on camel back – just as the early pioneers did – the best time to get up close and personal with these nomadic desert creatures is at the Uluru Camel Cup. Get trackside seats for the big race, bid on your favourite camel in the Calcutta auction and enjoy fabulous entertainment and events with all the locals. The fashionable can join the Fashions on the Field contest and the toe-tappers can rip out their best desert dance to the live music on stage.