When I mention the Australian Red Centre, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
Ayers Rock right? People assume that Ayers Rock is the only attraction in the Red Centre – I’ll admit I was guilty of this at first.
Fortunately though, it couldn’t be further from the truth; there is so much more to this intriguing area of Australia than one great big rock (and believe me, it is huuuuge)!
A vast sandstone canyon formed over thousands of years stretches out in the middle of the desert to interrupt an otherwise flat landscape.
Magnificent rock formations, steep cliffs and deep ravines make for some fantastic photo opportunities but tread carefully – the cliff edges might be weak from undercutting and wind erosion so stay a safe distance back.
The 3.5 hour entire rim walk is well worth the trek but be sure to take plenty of water with you!
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)
In the local aboriginal language Kata Tjuta literally means “many heads”, which is basically what these unique rock formations look like.
A number of walks take you on a rough rocky adventure right through the middle of these huge “heads” – one of them is even winking at you!
If you’re lucky enough to be here during the rain (yes, you did read that right) then the faces come alive with cascades of water flowing down from every direction, turning the rocky paths into river rapids. A couple of wet feet are definitely worth the stunning views though!
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Not the only attraction, but definitely the main one. Ideally you should spend a full day or more experiencing it from every angle.
There are many different lookouts surrounding Ayers Rock which are great for standing back and viewing it all in one shot. Sunrises and sunsets are also spectacular at most of these viewpoints (depending on if you want to witness a colour change on the face of the rock or see it silhouetted against the sun).
However, to truly appreciate its sheer size and splendour you need to get up close and personal by walking one of the tracks around its perimeter; I’d recommend doing the 10.6km entire base walk in early to mid-morning. For those not up to going the whole distance there are shorter and easier routes from car parks at 2 locations on the south and west sides of the rock.
It’s also an area of great cultural significance for the local Anangu people – you can learn all about their traditions and history at the cultural centre (Uluru is the aboriginal name for Ayers Rock).
Although I didn’t experience these firsthand, I talked to numerous people who had spent time exploring the East and West McDonnell ranges and they came back with glowing reports. “Raw Australian outback – this is what I imagine when I think of Australia” is how one person described it.
How to visit
While it’s possible to visit all these sights independently, the red centre is just one of those places where you’ll benefit from a guided tour (I don’t usually like partaking in tours but there are certain locations and situations that are suited to them).
Here in the Australian outback, distances are vast, the environment is unforgiving and the history is rich – all reasons to consider booking a guided tour. You’ll have all food, transport and accommodation taken care of, as well as a knowledgeable guide to show you hidden spots and tell cool stories.
When I visited, I booked a 3 day/2 night tour with a company called The Rock Tour. It was split up into roughly 1 main site per day (Uluru, Kings Canyon and Kata Tjuta). Activities included: scenic walks, cave exploration, enjoying viewpoints, watching sunrises & sunsets, campfire cooking, admiring aboriginal art, stargazing, visiting cultural centres and much more.
It really was an unforgettable 3 days! Highlights for me were sleeping under the stars and completing the Kings Canyon rim walk.
Note: this article is in no way sponsored. I honestly recommend the services of The Rock Tour. There are plenty of other tour companies available but I am just sharing my positive experiences with you guys!
All in all, I think it’s safe to say that the Red Centre is definitely worth a visit during your time in Australia.
If it wasn’t already on your bucket list, add it now.
If it wasn’t already on your itinerary, make it your first stop.
If you’ve already done it, see it again.