A week in the Red Centre

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Watch the video of our trip to Australia here!

OUR TRIP: 8 days on site: 24 to 31 January 2020

WHERE? Ayers Rock Red Centre in Alice Springs

TIME DIFFERENCE: +7:30 in summer / +8:30 in winter

CURRENCY: Australian Dollar (AUD): 1 = 1.6 AUD in January 2020.

TEL/INTERNET: Wi-Fi is not common in hotels between Ayers Rock and Alice Springs. You'll need to be patient when visiting the heart of the Red Centre.

CURRENT: Type I, two tilted plugs, provide an adapter and a power strip.

CAR RENTAL: It is advisable to rent a large 4×4 to drive smoothly on the tracks

WHY GO THERE? Its red soil, its cultural heritage, getting lost in the middle of nowhere

Our Australian journey continues! After three weeks on the east coast (insert link: ), we fly to the Red Centre. This red land in the heart of the Northern Territories is one of the cradles of the aboriginal culture.

We will spend a week under the blazing sun, with our feet in the dust! Come on board with us to find out all about it!

Uluru at sunset

We fly from Cairns to Ayers Rock to be in the heart of the country in less than 2 hours! Just before landing, the Uluru rock stands out in the flat desert... impressive!

Our journey through the Red Centre
Uluru - Kata Tjuta (2 nights)

The "city" of Yulara, to hide nothing from you, is not very interesting and is used as a base camp... Several hotels, a campsite and a supermarket are concentrated not far from the airport. We choose the Sails in the Desert hotel to spend our two nights there.

From Yulara, you're just a few kilometres fromUluru - Kata Tjuta National Park. These two iconic rocks were given their Aboriginal names after a fierce struggle by the local Anangu tribe. They are still called Ayers Rocks and Mount Olga around the world.

In this region, the temperature can reach 50° in the middle of summer. It is therefore strongly recommended not to be outside between 11am and 5pm! The park opens at 5am in summer and closes at 9pm. This gives you plenty of time to come early enough to do the different trails. You do have to choose which rock you want to see when you arrive though as they are 55km apart and the road is winding. Finally, if you stay for two nights, you can see a sunrise and a sunset on each of them.

Here are the main points not to be missed:

  • Uluru (all trails are 100% accessible)
    • Base Walk (10.6km, 3.5 hours walk): The Uluru tour should be done early in the morning to avoid the heat.
    • Mala Walk (2km, 1h30 walk): A free introductory walk is offered every morning in summer at 8am (10am in winter) with a ranger. The one we had didn't really get us excited... Maybe you'll have better luck than us!
    • Kuniya Walk (1km, 45min walk): At the foot of the rock, come face to face with the Mutitjulu waterhole filled with waterfalls formed after each rainfall.
    • Talinguru Nyakunytjaku: Sunrise and sunset area. Several viewpoints so that you don't miss anything of this magical moment.
Uluru in the early morning
  • Kata Tjuta (trails are not wheelchair accessible)
    • Walpa Gorge (2.6km, 1h walk): A path between two walls along a thin stream
    • Valley of the Winds (7.4km, 4h walk): A challenging trail awaits you! Start as soon as the park opens and carry several litres of water per person.
    • Two separate areas to watch the sunrise and sunset
Sunrise over Kata Tjuta

For the more adventurous of you going to Perth by car, a road leaves through the bush from Kata Tjuta ! It's a 1,991km drive and takes 25 hours... don't forget to bring food and water!

Good to know: if you go to the Red Centre in the summer, the bush flies invade the area and drive you crazy! The only way to enjoy them is to buy a fly net to put on your head before going out (10 AUS at the town's supermarket). Without it, the sensation of those sticky insects trying to get into your mouth or ears can quickly spoil even the most beautiful sunsets...

Sails in the Desert - Ayers Rock: One of the many hotels in Yulara. It will do for the time of your visit. Accessibility: 5/5

Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park: Get up close and personal with these two mythical rocks! 3 day pass: $25AUD (approx. €15) per person

Kings Canyon (326km - 3h30 drive - 2 nights)

After sunrise over Uluru, we drive to Kings Canyon. Fill up on petrol before any journey to avoid disappointment!

When you arrive at Kings Canyon Resort, don't be surprised: these are the only dwellings around. If you can afford it, we recommend that you have a large cooler to fill up in Yulara. The resort has a motel, a restaurant, a gas station and a mini-market. The latter has little choice and the products are very expensive! Finally, the network is rare and the wifi is expensive! The hotel employees gave us the trick: in the canyon, the national park office offers one hour of free wifi...

Kings Canyon riverbed

As we said, the days in the Red Centre are short. To make the most of them, we head to Kings Canyon at sunrise. The most famous trail is the ridge trail. Unfortunately, it is not wheelchair accessible at all because of the dozens of steps on the side of the rock! In the summer, a path runs along the riverbed in the shade of the trees. It is accessible by wheelchair but once you arrive at the bed, you are blocked by large impassable stones...

Don't be disappointed though, 25km to the east, Kathleen Springs awaits you! A 100% accessible trail leads you to a spring where dozens of tadpoles play with each other. 

In the heart of Kathleen Springs

Kings Canyon Resort: Lost in the middle of nowhere, this motel does the trick. For the able-bodied, glamping in the bush is possible. Accessibility: 4/5

Kings Canyon: One of the most beautiful hikes in the region is here, but unfortunately it is not wheelchair accessible! Accessibility: 1/5

Kathleen Springs: A superb trail. Accessibility: 5/5 (no toilets on site)

Glen Helen (225km - 4h drive - 2 nights)

To get to Glen Helen from Kings Canyon, you'll have to put your 4×4 to the test!

A few kilometres past Kings Canyon Resort, the tarmac road turns into a track and becomes the Mereenie Road. To use this road you need a permit ($6.5AUD approx. €4) which is available at the resort. You also need to stock up on provisions, water and make sure you have a spare tyre in case of a problem. During our visit, we only came across two cars! If you are lucky, you may even come across some wild camels!

The Mereenie Road

At the end of the trail, make a diversion to Gosse Bluff: a huge crater created by a meteorite. There is no trail here, just the immensity and the feeling of being very small! Be careful, to get there, we again recommend you to have a 4×4 as some parts are very sandy.

Gosse Bluff Crater

Our home for the next two nights is Glen Helen Lodge, at the entrance to the Glen Helen Gorge. A superb setting where time is forgotten!

West MacDonnell National Park stretches from Alice Springs to Glen Helen. For those who wish to do so, the Larapinta Walking Track crosses the park for 223km linking various gorges. It is suitable for experienced hikers who are used to rough conditions. It is recommended to do it in winter to avoid the risk of sunstroke.

From Glen Helen, these famous gorges are accessible by car. We only venture to Ormiston Gorge, the only one accessible by wheelchair. When the water is there (not in summer), it is possible to take a swim... Perfect to cool off!

Similarly, on the way to Alice Springs, stop at Ellery Creek.

West MacDonnell Gorge

Glen Helen Lodge: An affordable, low-key motel with a good restaurant and pool! Accessibility: 4/5

West MacDonnell National Park: A well-known trail, water sources for bathing... it's all there! Accessibility: 1/5

We spend our last night in the Red Centre in Alice Springs. A stopover town before our flight to Adelaide.

Mercure Alice Springs Mercure Alice Springs: Perfect for an overnight stopover, there is nothing pleasant about the town. Accessibility: 5/5

We leave the outback and its red sand behind us to find the benefits of the ocean on the southern coasts of Australia. Kangaroo Island and the Great Ocean Road are ours!


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