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5 places you have to see in Australia's Red Centre

25 Jul 2022

The Red Centre is a beautifully remote region in the heart of Australia that's famous for the world’s biggest rock, but it’s also alot more than that.

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As spectacular as Uluru is, the middle of Australia is filled with scenery that goes well beyond the World Heritage listed icon.

To get there and see it all you have to take at least part of The Red Centre Way, a 700km loop from Alice Springs that takes you to the rock and back. Passing highlights along the way including the West MacDonnell Ranges and Kings Canyon, here are 5 places you shouldn’t miss in Australia’s Red Centre.

1. Kings Canyon, Watarrka National Park5 things to see and do australia red centre haroadventures

Credit: @haro_adventures

Located halfway between the airport in Alice Springs and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, (where Uluru is) Kings Canyon is an absolute must-see. Although not as well-known than its more famous cousin, many people say it's a better all-round experience. 

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Often referred to as 'Australia's Grand Canyon', Kings Canyon is a natural treasure trove that you can explore on the world famous Kings Canyon Rim Walk. This is a 6-kilometre up and down trail that takes hikers on a truly spellbinding journey. Discover ancient geological formations with names like the 'Lost City', the 'Garden of Eden' and 'Priscilla’s Crack' - where the Aussie classic ‘Priscilla: Queen of the Desert’ was filmed.

Looking for Accommodation near Kings Canyon?

Just 7-kilometres from the entrance to Watarrka National Park, unforgettable outback landscapes and a variety of accommodation is available at Discovery Kings Canyon Resort.

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Credit: @haro_adventures 

Whether it's a Deluxe Spa Room with views of the outback or a Superior Glamping Tent big enough for 4, take advantage of a range of facilities including a resort-style swimming pool, restaurant and bar, tennis court, BBQ and laundry room.

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King’s Canyon’s proximity to a cultural heritage that is tens of thousands of years old also makes being here an opportunity to finally immerse yourself in Australia’s incredible Indigenous ancestry.

5 things to see and do australia red centre watarrke aboriginal experience

Take in a view of Watarrka by air, learn how the traditional owners survived for so long in these conditions, enjoy a sunset drink, and make the iconic 6km hike to the top of Kings Canyon itself, where 360 degree views of Watarrka National Park await.

2. Uluru (Ayers Rock), Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

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Credit:Tourism NT

There is nowhere else in the world like Uluru.

Located inside the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, this Australian icon is an isolated bare sandstone rock that stands 348 metres high and measures 9.4 km (5.8 miles) around.

Changing colours with the position of the sun, Uluru offers up a painter's palette of reds, browns, oranges and purples you simply have to see for yourself. 

Walking tracks will get you around the entire circumference of Uluru, and it's highly recommended you walk with an Anangu guide to learn about the Dreamtime ancestors' ties to the most famous Australian landmark of them all.

3. Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

5 things to see and do australia red centre watarrka

Credit: Tourism Australia

Meaning ‘many heads’ in the language of the Anangu Aboriginals (pronounced ‘arn-ung-oo’), who have lived in the region for approximately 30,000 years, the 36 unique domes of Kata Tjuta are estimated to be over 500 million years old.

Originally named the Olgas after Queen Olga of Wurttemberg in 1872, fortunately the Indigenous name was formally adopted in 1993 and has been in much wider use ever since.

The Valley of the Winds walk is a popular activity in Kata Tjuta. Allow about 4 hours for the full 7.4km circuit due to its steep and rocky terrain. Alternatively, take shorter walks to scenic points like the Karu and Karingana Lookouts.

Find out more about Uluru and Kata Tjuta by downloading the park service's visitor's guide.

4. Alice Springs5 things to see and do australia red centre light festival alice springs

Credit: Paartjima Light Festival

Alice Springs is a stunning location enriched with colonial history, Indigenous ancestry and fascinating attractions.

At the beating heart of Central Australia and at the start of the Red Centre Way, the remote town of Alice Springs is close to many of the Northern Territory’s most iconic monuments. Plus, as a hub of outback hospitality, Alice is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the NT way of life.

5 things to see and do australia red centre larapinta trail

Credit: Tourism NT

Start by exploring Aboriginal art galleries, then trek a section of the 223 kilometre Larapinta Trail. After that why not float about in a hot air balloon over the West MacDonnell Ranges?

Looking for Accommodation in Alice Springs?

Discovery Parks - Alice Springs is the perfect base for any holiday exploring the Australian outback. Just 5 minutes from Alice Springs town centre, the park has a fantastic selection of accommodation from shaded sites to Deluxe 2-bedroom cabins.

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There is an onsite pool and gym, BBQ facilities and a camp kitchen, making it the ideal spot to relax after a long day in the sun.

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5. West Macdonnell Ranges, NT

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The West MacDonnell Range is 200km west of Alice Springs and home to the Larapinta Trail.

Also home to the West Aranda Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years, the Larapinta Trail is a 223 kilometre walking track that follows the ranges and has well-marked signs, campsites, natural waterholes, sacred sites and scenic views along its path.

Highlights include the black-footed rock wallabies at Simpsons Gap, picnics amongst the amazing geology of Ellery Creek Big Hole, diving into the Glen Helen Gorge's beautiful watering hole and hiking the red cliffs at Ormiston Gorge.

Looking for Accommodation near the West MacDonnell Ranges?

Discovery Parks – Glen Helen (formerly Glen Helen Lodge) is the only accommodation located within the Tjoritja - West MacDonnell Ranges National Park, just 130km west of Alice Springs.

5 things to see and do australia red centre glen helen deck family

Immerse yourself in this 800 million years old landscape - home to the Western Aranda Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years.

Enjoy a haven of outback hospitality with 25 motel rooms and an expansive campground with powered and unpowered sites. Make the most of our facilities, including our restaurant, bar/bistro, swimming pool and outdoor terrace overlooking the stunning Glen Helen cliffs.

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