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.
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?
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.