Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Red Centre, Northern Territory, Australia

These shoes (and the feet in them) worked very hard while visiting The Red Centre last week.  I went on a trip with my friend Nikki, and we walked, and walked and walked while we were there.  Which was a fantastic excuse to eat a lot, so I'm not complaining at all.

We stayed in Yulara which is the resort that provides good access to the local sights.  The resort contains most things you will need while you are there including accomodation (hotels, self contained apartments, campgrounds), a small supermarket, bars, restaurants, banks etc.  At the resort we stayed at the Outback Pioneer which we thought was overpriced and needs a bit of a facelift, and the staff seemed to have all gone a bit loopy (we nicknamed it Fawlty Towers), but the BBQ (where you choose your own meat and/or fish and cook it yourself) was lots of fun and there was live music and plenty of vibe.

First we visited Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) which are 36 steep sided domes (Kata Tjuta means "many heads").  We decided to take on the Valley of the Winds walk which is 7.6km (although felt a bit more like 10kms) and takes you past some fantastic lookouts.  The walk is quite challenging and steep in places and it takes you between the domes, through creek beds and lets you get up close and personal to the domes.  We felt like we were the only ones doing this walk at times, maybe because most people opt for the easier walks but I would definitely recommend the longer walk if you are reasonably fit and you have a couple of hours to spare.
The next day we drove out to Kings Canyon which is a 3 hour drive from Yulara.  It was definitely worth the trip - the canyon is 270 metres high and we did the walk around the rim which was great for taking in the views which really are spectacular.  It is a 2-3 hour walk (or of course you can spread it over a whole day if you have the time), with lots of stone steps at the start and it can be steep and rocky in places so if you decide to do the walk, make sure you wear decent shoes.
And what would a visit to the Red Centre be, without a visit to Uluru (Ayers Rock)?  I have visited Uluru before, but even so, I still couldn't help but be surprised at the sheer size of this amazing rock.  It really is magnificent, such gorgeous colours and so HUGE.

We decided to do the walk around the base of the rock, which is 9.4 km and takes you past many sacred sites.  It was a lovely way to see the rock and we even met some camels along the way.  By this time, our poor feet were crying out for a break, so we finished off our visit by stopping at the Cultural Centre and doing a dot painting workshop with some local aboriginal people.  It was an interesting and fun way to finish up our visit to this beautiful part of the world.

So, the feet and shoes got a well deserved rest the next day as we hopped on a plane to Darwin via Alice Springs.  We had a few hours to waste in Alice Springs and we had good intentions of having a look around but it was so cold when we arrived and pouring with rain, so we made the executive decision to see a movie instead.  Eclipse had been released the week before so I felt in need of an Edward and Jacob fix. 

I'll post on our trip Darwin later this week.  Have you visited the Red Centre before?  If so, let me know about your experiences by leaving a comment, I'd love to hear about them.