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Top 6 Natural Wonders of the Red Centre

The Northern Territory's Red Centre Way is by far one of Australia's greatest driving routes. The very best of Central Australia can be found along this route. Here are six of the natural wonders worth a stop and stay along the way.

Top 6 Natural Wonders of the Red Centre

Monday, 1 April 2019

The Northern Territory’s Red Centre Way is by far one of Australia’s greatest drives. It’s an epic journey from Alice Springs to Uluru via the West MacDonnell Ranges - or the other way around - and is rich in ancient culture, heritage and historical sites, brimming with unique flora and fauna, hidden waterholes and breathtaking vistas.

Here are six of the natural wonders you shouldn’t miss when driving the Red Centre Way:

1. Standley Chasm

Known to the local Arrernte people as ‘Angkerle Atwatye’, Standley Chasm is found just 50kms west of Alice Springs in the West MacDonnell Ranges. The narrow gap of the chasm was formed thousands of years ago by rushing floodwaters which has now left a natural rocky alleyway reaching up to 80m high. The best time to visit is on a sunny day around midday when the sun enters the chasm walls and lights up both sides as it passes above. For just a few minutes, the walls glow a rich red colour from the reflected sunlight and is a stunning site to see. Standley Chasm was traditionally a sacred women’s site for collecting bush medicine and performing sacred ceremonies.

2. Glen Helen Gorge

Located 132kms from Alice Springs, Glen Helen Gorge is a beautiful waterhole found where the West MacDonnell Ranges part slightly to make way for the Finke River. It’s a popular overnight stop for those driving the Red Centre Way and a great place to take a quick refreshing dip to cool off in the summer months. Traditional owners of the land believe that Glen Helen Gorge is the home of the Rainbow Serpent and regard it as a sacred spot.

3. Kings Canyon

Set in Watarrka National Park between Alice Springs and Uluru, Kings Canyon is a remarkable chasm with sandstone walls soaring 70m high. Home to a unique variety of plants and animals, the canyon can be explored by air or by foot. For the adventurous hikers, make the rocky climb to the rim of the canyon on the 6km Rim Walk. This walk begins with a challenging 500-step climb but the effort is worth it as you are greeted with breathtaking views of the national park at the top before descending into the green oasis of the ‘Garden of Eden’. For the leisurely walkers, explore the boulder-strewn canyon floor on the easier 2.6km Kings Creek Walk. You can also experience Kings Canyon on a day trip from Uluru

4. Mount Conner

Mount Conner (also known as Atilla and Artilla) is a distinctive flat-topped sandstone capped mountain standing 300m high and is often mistaken for Uluru by visitors travelling along the road from Alice Springs, earning it the nick-name "Fooluru". This horseshoe-shaped inselberg is located on the 416,000 hectare Curtin Springs Station, a private property not generally open to the public. SEIT’s 4WD Outback Adventure is the only tour permitted on this privately owned land and gives you the opportunity to learn about the pastoral history of the region, discover an ancient inland salt lake and see the perfect habitat for red kangaroos, rock wallabies and a vast array of birds and reptiles of the Red Centre.

5. Kata Tjuta (The Olgas)

Aboriginal for ‘many heads’, Kata Tjuta (also known as The Olgas) is made up of 36 weathered rock dome formations, extending 6kms into the ground and is the remains of erosion that began more than 500 million years ago. It is located within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and located 50km West of Uluru. It is a sacred Anangu men’s site under Tjukurpa (law) and many stories of Kata Tjuta are not known except to initiated men.

Abundant with unique flora and fauna, the best way to see and experience Kata Tjuta is by trekking the popular yet challenging 7.4km Valley of the Winds circuit which takes you through and into Kata Tjuta’s red rocky dome. For a shorter walk, there’s the 2.6km Walpa Gorge trail. Alternatively, you can join an AAT Kings guided tour or SEIT guided tour to gain a deeper understanding of this natural spectacle.

6. Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Rising 348 metres above the desert floor, Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) is undoubtedly the beating heart of Australia. No other place compares as you are drawn towards this living cultural landscape and its ancient Indigenous culture and spirituality.

There are plenty of ways to experience this ancient wonder. Walk around the 10.6km base on foot or hop on a bicycle, segway or the back of a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Explore the Central Australian desert like the early pioneers on the back of a camel, or take to the skies in a scenic flight for a bird’s-eye view of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and surrounds. Don’t forget to experience sunrise and sunset from one of the viewing platforms or by joining a guided sunrise or sunset tour. Whether guided or self-guided, you will leave knowing more about Anangu people and their culture and the ancient rock art, flora and fauna.

Ayers Rock Resort is the perfect base when exploring Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park with a range of accommodations, shops, restaurants and facilities; as well as free guest activities to learn more about Aboriginal culture and taste some bush tucker.

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Create your own itinerary using the My Itinerary planner. Start by browsing and adding experiences to your itinerary to help you plan your days. Then select accommodation that best suits your style and budget before finalising your perfect Uluru escape. You can easily save your itinerary and come back to it at a later date.

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1 Day Hop On Hop Off Pass

This 1-day Hop On Hop Off pass gives you the freedom to explore Uluru at your own pace for one day. From sunrise to sunset, hop on and hop off as much as you like throughout the day. Additionally, this pass also entitles you to one bonus transfer to and from Kata Tjuta within the same day. Download timetable and map

15min Uluru and Resort Postcard Flight (daytime)

Limited on time? Take to the skies on a 15 minute scenic helicopter flight that takes you past Ayers Rock Resort and onto breathtaking views of the desert landscape and the majestic Uluru, as well as Kata Tjuta in the distance. Enjoy this tour anytime throughout the day, excluding sunrise and sunset. Tour duration is approx. 1 hour

15min Rock Blast (Daytime)

Launch off on a rock blasting adventure and take in the sights of Ayers Rock Resort and surrounding desert landscape as you make your way towards Uluru. Enjoy a panoramic view of the breathtaking scenery unique to the Red Centre.  Tour duration approx. 1 hour
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Longitude 131°

Located adjacent to Ayers Rock Resort, Longitude 131° offers an exclusive experience of the Australian Outback, rich in cultural heritage and history.

Emu Walk Apartments

Ayers Rock Resort's 4 star self-contained apartments: Only 20km from Uluru, the newly renovated 1 and 2 bedroom apartments are sheltered behind gardens of native trees. Lowest Price Guarantee.

Emu Walk Apartments

Ayers Rock Resort's 4 star self-contained apartments: Only 20km from Uluru, the newly renovated 1 and 2 bedroom apartments are sheltered behind gardens of native trees. Lowest Price Guarantee.
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Ecology & Museum Tour

Wintjiri museum provides an educational display highlighting local history, Aboriginal culture, geology, flora and fauna. On this interpretative tour of the museum your Aboriginal guide will introduce you to the region's unique ecology and classes of mammals and fauna types not found anywhere else in the world.  Gain insights into the Anangu land conservation and management practices as well as a brief historical overview; starting 30,000 years ago with the Aboriginal habitation to the early European explorers, and the development of tourism at Uluru. Tour duration: approx. 45 minutes. Days and times: daily, 3pm Location: Wintjiri Arts & Museum

Bush Yarn

Welcome to the Circle of Sand, the Indigenous heart of Ayers Rock Resort. You'll become captivated by the yarns told by an Indigenous storyteller of Aboriginal history, culture and traditional techniques used on the land. Dependant on the season, learn about traditional bushtucker or an Indigenous man’s “survival kit” including weapons such as katjii (hunting spears), tjutinpa (clubs), kali (boomerangs) and miru (spear thrower). Tour duration: approx 30 minutes. Days and times: daily, 10am, 10:30am, 11am, 11:30am Location: Town Square Lawn Area

Guided Garden Walk

Desert Gardens Hotel is famous for it's magnificent gardens full of local flora. Meet your Indigenous guide at the hotel's reception for a guided tour of these authentic native gardens and an introduction to the many different plants which Anangu relied on for food and medicinal purposes. Tour duration approx. 1 hour.
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3 Day Uluru Outback Adventure Itinerary

Discover adventure in the Australian outback over 2 adventure-packed nights. Witness an amazing sunrise over Uluru. Get an adrenaline rush on a Harley Davidson ride. Enjoy dinner under the stars at the award-winning Sounds of Silence and various guest activities. Tours in this itinerary requires a moderate level of fitness.

3 Day Uluru Budget Itinerary

Explore Australia's Red Centre on a budget in 2 packed nights. Experience the magic of Uluru. Enjoy a dinner under the stars at the award-winning Sounds of Silence, walk through the Field of Light and discover various guest activities that will provide you with unforgettable memories. This itinerary is designed for those wanting a budget adventure.

3 Day Family Itinerary

Discover the spiritual heart of Australia with this 2 night Uluru family itinerary including Astro Tour, Uluru and Kata Tjuta sunrise tour, Dot painting and various guest activities. The tours in this suggested Uluru Family itinerary are suited to families with children 5 years and over.
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Ayers Rock Resort is currently closed due to the impact of COVID-19 and related Northern Territory border and remote community closures.  We are currently taking general bookings from 1 August 2020, although this will be reviewed regularly should circumstances change. The Lost Camel Hotel is open for limited bookings for local residents and other guests who meet the mandated travel requirements and adhere to COVID-19 guidelines regarding health and safety. For guests travelling from outside the area prior to 17 July a mandatory 14 day self-isolation period will apply. Please refer to our FAQ page for further information.