A video portraying a string of reactions of international travel journalists to Australia’s Red Centre prompted me to relive my journey there late last year. Evocative images of the spiritual Uluru (Ayers Rock), wondrous rock formations, crimson red sunsets, remote sparse wilderness, and cultural indigenous history dating back to the dawn of mankind quickly leaped to mind. Yet the vast majority of Australians and international visitors never visit this unique region.
Sunset (or sunrise) over Uluru can be experienced eating dinner, riding a camel, or simply from one of the designated viewing areas. Seeing the earthy redness of Uluru slowly soak into the darkening skies traversing a gamut of rustic colors from mellow russet brown through a mauve tinge to a darkened silhouette is undoubtedly one of Australia’s great sights.
Sheer rock walls of Kings Canyon are a highlight of any journey to the Red Centre. Ensure that you get to Kings Canyon early to enjoy a superb half-day six-kilometer walk. After the first steep climb of a few hundred meters, the walking is primarily flat and unveils remarkable rock formations. Pop into nearby Kings Creek Station to get a sense of living on a cast remote cattle station.
Alice Springs is a central Australian city with services to assist living in remote environments. The Royal Flying Doctor Service provides medical care to people often living hundreds of miles from the nearest facility while School of the Air (time your visit to view a lesson in action) ensures those on remote properties receive the education required of modern times. The Telegraph Station reminds visitors of the exceptional efforts to connect Australia, stringing 3,600 kilometers of cable across the center of the country in the 19th century reducing communications times to Britain from three weeks to a day. The somewhat ironically named Todd River runs dry for 11 months of most years.
Some key tips for visiting Australia’s Red Centre
■ The highlight times of the day are dawn and dusk, so it isn’t a place for sleeping in. The dusty environment makes for special sunrises and sunsets.
■ In the warmer months, the day temperature can approach 50°C (well over 110°F) so walk early and ensure you always have plenty of water with you.
■ Keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos, camels, eagles, and (surprisingly colorful) birdlife. Good chance that you spot some Australian fauna on your travels.
■ Distances are great so drive carefully and keep the car well fuelled.
■ Take the chance to learn more about Australia’s indigenous culture, a tour to learn about the bushcraft, foods, water, and bush medicines of Aborigines are fascinating for the resourcefulness in living in tough conditions.