The Northern Territory Checklist through Instagram

No other place encapsulates Australia better than the Northern Territory. The red dirt, Uluru, wild kangaroos – it was all waiting to be explored when I headed there as part of the Northern Territory Tourism Board and Plus7’s The Checklist and followed in Edwina & Riches’s footsteps to see the best of the Red Center.

Snacks onboard the Virgin Australia flight

The flight between Sydney and the Northern Territory isn’t a short one so I was thankful that Virgin Australia had some tasty treats aboard the snack cart. If I eat the honeybread man and drink the water that’s constitutes as a healthy snack, right?

Virgin Australia ticket to Alice Springs from Sydney

Flying into Ayers Rock Airport – yes, there is an airport at Uluru (nee Ayers Rock) – you are well aware of the presence of the great big red rock rising in the background. Having heard about it, an icon of Australia, I was in awe stepping off the plane and seeing it in person for the first time.
One thing I wasn’t quite as impressed with was the $4.00 water in the airport – what a rip off!

$4 water at Ayres Rock Airport

driving towards uluru at sunset

Whisked off to our hotel at Ayres Rock Resort we no sooner got changed than was heading back towards the rock for a base walk… and then a sunset camel ride (which we missed and were lucky enough to be able to reschedule!) and then racing back to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to get a position to watch the sunset on the rock complete with drinks, snacks and three awesome new friends!

sunrise camel ride around uluru

We were lucky that we were able to reschedule so that we were able to experience a sunrise camel ride at Uluru, so bleary eyed from a bad nights sleep from worrying that I’d sleep through my alarm we made our way back into the national park.

Camel rides are so much fun!

Paired up with experienced camel rider Annabel from Get in the Hot Spot she had to put up with my shrieks and squeels as Tanami, our camel, awkwardly stood up to begin our gentle ride towards the red rock.

Nicole instagramming whilst riding a camel with Uluru in the background

As the sun rose and the cold finally began to thaw from my body I could truly appreciate the beauty of the land. With Uluru (see above) on one side and the Olgas on the other, there were beautiful colours – soft pinks and vivid blues – crossing the sky as the desert became animated, became alive.

I tried my hardest to snap a few photos from the camel with the Olgas and Uluru in the background but lets be honest, I look like a bleary-eyed mess in the morning!

Camel ride around Uluru at sunrise in the Northern Territory

It seemed like the ride was over too quickly as the sun rose above the bushes, so with a hasty goodbye to Tanami we were back in the car to our next pit stop – Kings Canyon!!

View from the top of Kings Canyon

Arriving at Kings Canyon we decided to do a leisurely 3 hour hike of the Canyon. Leisurely it was not for this girl whose idea of a work out for the last few months has been walking to the train station a mere 5 minute walk away; what can I say? Study makes you lazy!

The hike and sweat was worth it though. Not only am I not rocking a wonderful panda tan care of my sunglasses but the view over the Watarrka National Park that the canyon is part of was something special with the beautiful blend of the orange rocks in contrast to the green and brown colours of the surrounding forest; but the canyon had more surprises for us as we continued out walk.

Walking Kings Canyon Northern Territory

The national park have been very clever to disguise markers and steps to look as natural as possible, the exception being these railing in the steeper areas. This leaves the hike being very natural and unspoilt which we all appreciated.

But my favourite area of the canyon was in the middle where the ‘rainforest’ is present including a billabong where local children clambered down to swim. The water was a little murky for my taste but it was still such a unique area, and if I had time it would have been a place where I could see myself enjoying a good book.

Rainforest area of Kings Canyon

Glamping at Kings Canyon Resort

Though there were camel rides and a beautiful-yet-exhausting hikes the highlight of the day was to come that night – we were glamping at Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge!

Arriving late in the afternoon we had just enough time to shower before enjoying a taste of the bush nibbles and drinks with the other guests around the bonfire before dinner was served, including camel!
Tired from the day the warm doonas and soft bed were a welcome relief as I drifted into a peaceful, but too short, sleep – this was the way camping is meant to be.

Pre-dinner drinks around the bonfire at Kings Canyon Resort

Kings Canyon Resort eating camel, lamb and chicken

Ghost gums of West Mac Donnell Ranges which Albert Namatjira painted a picture of outside of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory

It was a long drive down the Red Road to Alice Springs, but after another quick shower at the Lasseters Hotel & Casino – our home for the night – we were off again to spend our last night learning about and eating bush tucker in the bush!
Our driver, Bob Taylor from RT Tours Australia, told us not only his story and connection with the land but taught us to some of Alice Springs popular sights, including the Telegraph — to show us bush passionfruit and where kangaroos dig for water in the riverbank, the ghost gums of West Mac Donnell Ranges which became famous in Albert Namatjira’s painting, and to Flynn’s Grave – the founder of the Royal Flying Doctors Service.

One of the most interesting stops was at Simpsons Gap, not only one of the most prominant waterholes in the West MacDonnell Ranges and a important spiritual site to the Arrarnta Aboriginal people of the area, we were even lucky enough to see some black-footed rock-wallabies!

Simpsons Gorge Northern Territory

Bush Tucker Dinner in the West MacDonnell Ranges

Sunset over the West MacDonnell Ranges Northern Territory

Whilst Bob was prepping the bush tucker dinner our group climbed the hill nearby the campsite where we were eating. From there you could see sacred aboriginal sites like the Devils Thumb and Simpsons Gap as the sun set across the ranges and on our Northern Territory checklist experience.

Qantas Airplane at Alice Springs Airport

Three-days in the Northern Territory in three of the Red Centres best spots – I could go home happy knowing my checklist was complete!

What would you put on your Northern Territory Checklist?

This experience was part of a Media trip with the Northern Territory tourism board and Plus7.
As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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  • Reply
    Nico (A Travellers Journey)
    November 7, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    The Australian outback looks amazing, one of those places that I really want to visit. As for the honeybread man, I’m pretty sure it is a healthy snack, after all he does have a smile on his face.

  • Reply
    Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot
    November 7, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Hi Nicole,

    We had a laugh didn’t we?! Thanks for making me look like an experienced camel rider – I appreciate that:) You’re a bit on an old hand yourself now.

  • Reply
    November 8, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Ah, one of the many places in Australia I want to visit! Sounds like it was a magical experience.

  • Reply
    Tom - Active Backpacker
    November 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    Always fun to read about Aussies exploring their own country, which is something I need to do more of when I go back (when you grow up there the first thought in terms of travel is to LEAVE and go somewhere new and exciting).

    I live in Holland at the moment and it’s fun to hear them exclaim constantly how amazing Australia is, gives you a slightly new appreciation for your passport. Nice pics!

  • Reply
    Molly Nurse
    November 9, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Looks like an awesome trip! I would love to just tour Australia, National Park by National Park. Incredible scenery.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2012 at 6:03 am

    I love your pictures! You’ve just given me some severe Australian wanderlust… 🙂

  • Reply
    Going Bush (Tuckering) in Alice Springs
    November 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    […] Our final stop before dinner, just as the sun was setting was at Simpson’s Gap – one of the most prominent watering holes in the area and a site of significance to the Aboriginal population as it holds just one of their Dreamtime story. It’s hard to capture the impressive beauty of Simpson’s Gap on camera but I tried here and also on my iPhone. […]

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