Without a doubt the best organised group trip I took during my year in Australia was one of the last ones I went on a 3-day camping trip from Alice Springs to Uluru with Emu Run. It quickly rocketed the red centre to the top of my favourite places in the country. I had known the minute I booked my plane ticket down under that I would make sure to see Australia’s most iconic landmark in the flesh but what I hadn’t banked on was that there’s so much more in the centre that shouldn’t be missed.
Learn about Aboriginal culture
Uluru, Kata Tjuta and many of the other tourist draws in the red centre of Australia are sites of great spiritual significance to the indigenous people. I’m sure most of us try to behave in a way that is respectful to the land and its people when we are a visitor, and the best way to do this is to learn about their culture. The Aboriginal Visitor Centre at Uluru tells the history of the fight for ownership of the land, which is both fascinating and shocking, as well as explains its significance as a sacred place in the indigenous culture.
Walk the base of Uluru
I find it hard to understand how some people will visit the Aboriginal Visitor Centre, sit and listen in earnest to an indigenous person explaining the importance of the site to their culture and expressly asking you as a visitor not to climb it, and then walk right out the door and start ascending it. Instead of the hike to the top choose to complete the 10km base walk, which is much more spectacular… after all you can’t actually see Uluru if you’re standing on top of it!
Watch the sun rise over Kata Tjuta
Sunset over Uluru is all very well but the sun rise spot in Kata Tjuta National Park is well worth the painfully early morning. At this vantage point you witness the changing colours over the Kata Tjuta rock formations to one side of you and the brightening of Uluru directly in front. It may be a less popular option than an Uluru sunrise but in my opinion it’s the best of both worlds.
Sleep in a swag under the stars
Consider this, you’re in the middle of the Australian outback where the nearest sign of civilisation is miles away, and even then it’s just a cattle station with a couple of lights… camping in the Kata Tjuta National Park means you’re in one of the least light-polluted places you can possibly be. The opportunities for star-gazing if you’re lucky enough to have a clear night (and remember it is Australia so there’s a good chance of that) are above and beyond. If the stars do come out to play chances are you’ll see the milky way brightly across the sky with the naked eye and trust me that really is an unforgettable moment.
Hike King’s Canyon
Don’t let the title put you off it’s really only a hike to the top – up the ominously named Heart Attack Hill no less – and then back down. Once you reach the top of King’s Canyon the walk around the base is more of less flat and the only thing likely to get your heart racing is what a perilously long way down it is!
Wondering where to start your trip? … Why Alice Springs should be on your Australia itinerary.
Where have you been that you’d always wanted to go and did it live up to the expectations? If you’ve been to Uluru or explored the Australian outback I’d love to know how you felt about it…