Red Centre Attractions
A brief overview of all things in the Australian outback.
Discover and explore the astounding natural beauty of Central Australia and immerse yourself in the living cultural landscape that is the Red Centre. There are a wide variety of cultural activities, and natural attractions in the Australian Outback.
Uluru-Kata TJuta National Park
Once known as Ayers Rock - Mount Olga National Park the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park now belongs to the land’s traditional Aboriginal owners – the Anangu people. The remarkable natural beauty and unique cultural significance of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has now been officially recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Listed Area.
The park is now co-managed with Parks Australia and both parties continue to work together to care for and maintain this special place while retaining its unique heritage and cultural identity. Uluru and Kata-Tjuta is the main drawcard for tourists who flock to the Red Centre each year wanting to admire the beauty of these iconic landforms. The best times to see these wonders is at sunrise or sunset when Uluru and The Olgas seem to change their colours with the rays of the sun.
Australia’s famous Outback Town, Alice Springs offers plenty of things to see and do and is a great base to explore the diverse desert environments of the Red Centre. Take a Camel Trek across the Simpson Desert, take a bike ride to Simpsons Gap or attend one of the quirky annual festivals and events such as the Camel Cup and the hilarious dry-land boat regatta! There are all sorts of historical places of interest to visit and authentic cultural activities to take part in here in Alice Springs.
Alice Springs is a great launching pad to exploring the surrounding outback regions. It is a town filled with culture, history and personality and is the closest large town to the famous Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (around 490 km away).
Kings Canyon & Watarrka National Park
Kings Canyon offers amazing panoramic views across the Watarrka National Park. Its massive, sheer cliff faces drop into lush green valleys offering an ecological oasis for a variety of birds and wildlife. Here you can explore the eroded domes of the Lost City and discover the rare plants hidden in the flourishing Garden of Eden. The Canyon is located a mere 3 hours from Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and is well worth the short detour for the day, with its 100 metre tall sandstone walls, this is truly a breathtaking adventure.
One of the most popular activities in the Canyon is the Rim Walk, which is a 6 kilometre trail exploring the area for unmatchable views and visiting all of the major highlights including ‘The Lost City’ and the ‘Garden of Eden’ domes. A great adventure that is suited to a range of fitness levels, be sure to have your camera at the ready as the views overlooking the Canyon Rim are incredible. Other activities in the area include four-wheel driving tracks, camel tours, dining under the stars opportunities and the chance to spend the night.
Finke Gorge National Park
Home of the famous Finke Desert Race, this picturesque Gorge offers fantastic 4WD tracks and lookout walks around the rugged cliffs, mountain ranges and features the beautiful desert oasis of Palm Valley. The National Park is located around 140 kilometres southwest of Alice Springs, and is reached only by four-wheel drive. The Gorge is home to a collection of ancient landscapes and Aboriginal cultural sites as well as the historic Finke River which is believed to be one of the oldest rivers in the world, dating back to more than 350 million years.
One of the best ways to explore Finke Gorge National Park, other than behind the wheel of a four-wheel drive, is on foot. There are a range of hiking trails through the park providing impressive views of the surrounding landscape. The Kalarranga Lookout sandstone staircase is a popular adventure with its spectacular panoramic views of the sandstone hills around Palm Creek. Also, the Mpaara Walk combines scenery with ancient mythology from the Western Arrernte Aboriginal culture with the clockwise walking trail following the Mpaara dreaming story. Pack your walking shoes and camera and enjoy a day in the picturesque Finke Gorge National Park.
Visit the cool waterholes and unique wildlife on a bushwalk or bike ride to Simpsons Gap. Here you can see the incredible 20km crater formed by a comet over 130 million years ago and visit the gold rush town of Arltunga. Everywhere you go you can learn of the cultural significance of the Aboriginal people and hear stories of how this landscape came to be. From Alice Springs you can take off on a hot air balloon ride over the MacDonnell Ranges or take a scenic flight or sightseeing tour from Alice Springs to see these magnificent mountain ranges.
The West Macs are one of the best exploration grounds in the state with a combination of incredible sights including waterholes, gorges and rocky ridges. The Larapinta Trail winds through the Ranges and is one of the most popular ways to explore this rugged beauty. The track stretches for a seemingly endless 223 kilometres, however if you’re not up to complete the entire track you can embark on short trips on various sections of the trail. The full trail follows along the West MacDonnell Ranges spine from Alice Springs all the way to Mount Sonder.