Uluru

What to do on a 5 day vacation to Uluru…

Are you ready to explore the real heart of Australia? A visit to Uluru or Ayers Rock and the Red Centre never fails to amaze… and an epic adventure is guaranteed!

Rising from the broad desert plain in the deep centre of Australia, Uluru is Australia’s most recognisable natural icon and our most famous UNESCO World Heritage listed site. The famous sandstone monolith stands 348 metres high and, like an iceberg, has most of its bulk below the surface. Uluru dwarfs world-famous icons such as: Big Ben, The Statue of Liberty and The Eiffel Tower. It is at its best at sunrise and sunset when the colours of the desert change and play on the great monolith.

Uluru

Kata Tjuta – Red Centre.
TRUNK magazine campaign.
Photo credit: Akari Hatakeyama and Tourism NT.  

Uluru

Base Walk around Uluru. Photo credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT

Uluru is located 440 kilometres (6-hour drive) south-west of Alice Springs in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Nearby is Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas. This massive pile of rock domes dates back 500 million years. Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta have great cultural significance for the Anangu traditional landowners, who lead walking tours that inform about the local flora and fauna, bush foods and the Aboriginal Australian dreamtime stories of the area.

Uluru

Valley of the Winds, Kata Tjuta, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Photo Credit: Sean Scott/Tourism NT

A must-do is to experience the drive that “joins the dots” between Uluru and Alice Springs. This is a true outback adventure, with plenty of beautiful desert country to enjoy. Make sure to stopover a night at Kings Canyon, or Watarraka National Park. A highlight of Central Australia, this is an enormous chasm that has plenty of lush vegetation and is an important refuge for plants and animals. Make sure to rise early to explore the Kings Canyon rim walk at sunrise.

Uluru

Creek Walk, Kings Canyon. Photo credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT

The panoramic landscapes of the West MacDonnell Ranges lie on the outskirts of Alice Springs. Don’t miss Simpsons Gap which sports a permanent pool and rock wallabies live in the gap’s rocky ridges. Standley Chasm lights up in fiery colours reflected by the overhead sun at midday, and picturesque swimming holes such as Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge and Redbank Gorge offer refreshing relief on a scorching day.

Uluru

Ormiston Gorge, West MacDonnell National Park. Photo Credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT

Uluru

Backpackers pull over to take in a spectacular West Mac’s sunset. Photo Credit: Mitchell Cox/Tourism NT

Finish in Alice Springs with an explore of the many amazing local art galleries. This truly is a remarkable drive that captures the very essence of Australia!

Uluru

Mbantua Fine Art Gallery and Cultural Museum, Alice Springs. Photo credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT

Here are some of the key things to do:

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park:

Experience some incredible views whilst learning about the traditional culture. Join the Ranger guided Mala Walk to explore the park’s geology, natural environment and cultural heritage. Do the famous Valley of the Winds walk which explores Kata Tjuta and reveals stunning views of the landscape. Hire a bike, ride a camel, enjoy a very special evening meal with Uluru as your backdrop, do a dot painting workshop and be amazed by the southern night sky.

Uluru

Photo Credit: Sarena Hyland/Tourism NT

Uluru

Uluru, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Photo credit: David Kirkland/Tourism NT

Alice Springs:

Do the nocturnal tour at the Alice Springs Desert Park. Don’t miss the Kangaroo Sanctuary and Reptile Centre. A hot-air balloon ride early morning is a fantastic way to enjoy the local desert scenery. Visit the Royal Flying Doctor service and do a quad bike tour.

Uluru

Alice Springs Reptile Centre, Alice Springs. Photo credit: Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT

Make sure to add Uluru and the Red Centre drive to your wish list for your next Australia holiday. I know it is tough to decide where to go…. But this is one to tick off your bucket list!

Northern Territory

Australia: Top End Northern Territory Adventure

There is no doubt that the top end of Northern Territory delivers a fantastically special & unique Australia holiday. The beauty of this area is the joy of exploring World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park as well as both Litchfield & Nitmiluk National Parks – all within a 3 hour circuit drive of each other and Darwin. Easy driving and magnificent nature-based activities to enjoy for the whole family!

So with that in mind our family of 5 began our Top End adventure by collecting our hire vehicle in Darwin and driving 120km south to our first stop Litchfield National Park. Litchfield National Park comprises 1500 sq kms of largely untouched landscape. It is a favourite to view monsoonal rainforest, the perennial spring-fed streams and waterfalls, magnetic termite mounds, the weathered sandstone outcrops, as well as historic ruins.

Litchfield National Park Northern Territory

Our family enjoyed exploring many of the walks and swimming holes such as Buley Rockholes, Wangi Falls & Walker Creek. For respite at the end of the day’s walks, we made our base at Batchelor Butterfly Farm & Tropical Retreat in the township of Batchelor (only 20 minutes from the park) and what a wonderful surprise that was! Our daughter was enthralled with all the butterflies, my sons loved the swimming pool and the adults enjoyed the restaurant and very good quality meals. The accommodation was basic but clean & comfortable and the visit to Litchfield was a delight for everyone!

Litchfield National Park Northern Territory

After 2 days exploring Batchelor/Litchfield National Park we then headed 240km south-east to Katherine. It’s a drive through the Northern Territory’s stunning and lush northern tropics, steeped in nature, aboriginal culture and outback pioneering history. There are many stops and points of interest enroute. Katherine is very much an outback town, and does not have alot of endearing qualities about the town itself. However, the region boasts the not-to-be missed Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park.

Nitmiluk is home to the spectacular Katherine Gorge, a series of 13 sandstone gorges carved over a billion years by the Katherine River. The impressive gorge walls and white sandy beaches can be explored on foot, by canoe or on a cruise and are stunning from the air on a scenic helicopter flight. Aboriginal culture is strong in the area and there are many Aboriginal rock art sites dotted throughout the Park. Nitmiluk National Park has plenty of adventure activities! It is a haven for nature lovers, with its rugged landscapes, dramatic waterfalls and lush gorges providing an abundance of flora and fauna.

NTBLOG3 Katherine Gorge Northern Territory NTBLOG1

Canoe trips along Katherine Gorge are a must-do activity. Unfortunetly for our family we were unable to enjoy canoeing due to the National Parks survey for crocodiles in the area Better to be safe than sorry! However, we managed to enjoy Katherine Gorge in many other ways: the 3 gorge cruise, swimming in a picturesque waterfall and bush walking along the many trails throughout the park. The park rangers & tour guides provided interesting information on the area and Nitmiluk has a simply stunning landscape and plenty of adventure activities to enjoy.

Katherine Gorge Northern Territory

Our next stop was World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park, a 240km drive north of Katherine. Definitely the highlight of our trip, Kakadu is the jewel in the crown for the Northern Territory. Covering nearly 20,000 square kilometres of exceptional natural beauty and unique biodiversity, Kakadu is one of very few places World Heritage listed for both its cultural and its natural values. Kakadu is a living cultural landscape. Generations of the Bininj/Mungguy Aboriginal people have lived on and cared for this country for tens of thousands of years. Kakadu National Park is a timeless place – a landscape of exceptional beauty, great biodiversity and a wide variety of of landforms, habitats and wildlife. Kakadu is home to 68 mammals, more than 120 reptiles, 26 frogs, more than 2,000 plants and over 10,000 species of insects.

Gunlom Falls Kakadu Northern Territory

Our first adventure in Kakadu was a 2km walk to Gunlom Falls. We were lucky enough to swim and enjoy the clear natural plunge pool area and waterfall. This was followed by many notable stops as we explored the park: Night wildlife safari spotlighting for the wildlife in a Billabong, a one hour scenic flight over Kakadu & Arnhem Land, Ubirr & Nourlangie regions walking and admiring Aboriginal rock art sites, swimming in Jim Jim Falls plunge pool and visiting Jabiru Township the centre of Kakadu. At all of these points of interest park rangers were available and provided informative talks about the art and culture/stories several times per day. Well worth listening!

Kakadu views Northern Territory Kakadu Northern Territory

But perhaps the most amazing of all the regions in Kakadu is the Yellow Waters Wetlands. This is an area that will deliver the WOW factor with plenty of wildlife action! In fact just before we arrived a crocodile had been caught eating a shark unfortunetly for the shark he was in the wrong area and beaten by one of the world’s oldest predators! We took a sunset cruise around the wetlands and loved the wildlife action and awesome scenery.

Yellow Waters Billabong, Northern Territory

We enjoyed 3 days in Kakadu, and could have easily stayed for a few more. There is so much to do! Apparently most people who visit Kakadu make the mistake of only visiting Kakadu for a day trip with a 6 hour return journey to Darwin built in! That does not allow time to visit many sites, and really soak up the atmosphere of the awe-inspiring land that is Kakadu. To our family, Kakadu National Park was more than just a beautiful landscape. We left with a greater understanding of the Aboriginal connection to the land. Our land has a big story. Sometimes we tell a little bit at a time. Come and hear our stories, see our land. A little bit might stay in your hearts….

Our Top End Northern Territory Adventure was nearing completion as we left Kakadu and headed west back to Darwin (300km) for a few days relaxation before heading home. Darwin proved a good place to relax and rejuvenate, visit some museums, do some shopping and enjoy the atmosphere of the famous night markets.

A holiday adventure of a lifetime to remember!

 

Facts:

  • Winter season (May to September) is traditionally the most popular time to visit. The daytime temperatures range around 30 degrees Celsius and the nights are cool. Perfect weather for all activities.
  • All roads travelled are bitumen and fully sealed. So short distances, and easy driving. This drive is also a good one for motorhome vehicles as an alternative to car/accommodation.

Darwin Beach View, Northern Territory