Ayers Rock Alice Springs Kings
Canyon - Australia
many ‘The Alice’ is a symbol of the outback. It grew beside a
vital telegraph station on the Overland Telegraph Line from an
isolated settlement at the mercy of distance and climate to a
modern and expanding municipality with a thriving tourist
Alice Springs is a main outlet for contemporary Aboriginal
paintings with many galleries in town selling the works of artists
from outlying areas. A heritage walk (details from the Visitor
Centre in Hartley Street) seeks out buildings remaining from the
pioneer days. Also well worth a visit are the restored building of
the Telegraph Station, four kilometers north from the town centre
beside the Todd River.
The nearby MacDonnell Ranges dominate the, otherwise flat,
landscape and contain a number of fascinating natural attractions
including gorges, water holes and the fabulous flora and fauna of
the Red Centre.
ULURU (AYERS ROCK) & KATA TJUTA (THE OLGAS)
Looming stark from the spinifex and red earth, Uluru (348 metres
above the plain) and Kata Tjuta (548 metres above the plain) were
laid down some 550 million years ago as an alluvial fan created by
the outflow of water from the plantless valleys of an ancient, and
no longer present, mountain range a little west of the present day
location of Kata Tjuta.
ring road around Uluru (anti-clockwise gives car passengers the
best view) allows visitors to experience its many aspects and
appreciate its amazing size. Almost unbelievably, this is only the
tip of a seam of hard sedimentary rock (known as arkose) that
extends several kilometers below the sands. There are both sunrise
(on the eastern side) and sunset (to the west) viewing areas.
Over 500 species of plants, 150 species of birds and 75 reptile
species inhabit the park. The nine-kilometre (four-hour circuit)
Uluru Base Walk takes in ancient rock art, caves and waterholes.
Ranger – and Aboriginal – guided tours are available for some
walks and provide a valuable introduction to local Aboriginal
Each feature of Uluru has a meaning and traditional Aboriginal
law, or Tjukurpa. The shorter (one and a half hours return) Mala
Walk (self-guided and ranger-led) visits caves and rock art sites
on the way to Kantju Waterhole. On the south side of the rock an
even shorter walk (forty-five minutes return) leads to Mutitjulu
Waterhole – one of the most reliable at Uluru; its waters have
sustained the people of the area for thousands of years. The Liru
Walk is conducted jointly by rangers and senior Anangu (local
Aboriginal people) and takes about two and a half hours.
climb, the most popular of all activities at Uluru, is also the
most physically demanding. It follows the path believed to have
been taken by the Mala (hare-wallaby) men on their arrival at
Uluru and is a route of great spiritual significance. Although
they have given permission, the local Aboriginal people would
prefer visitors not to climb the rock.
From the resort a journey of around 50 kilometres west takes you
to Kata Tjuta, an area of great significance to its traditional
owners. Visitors are asked to respect the sacred sites here by
keeping to the marked tracks.
Valley of the Winds Walk (four hours return) winds between the
towering domes with magnificent views over the start desert
landscape. The great variety of vegetation to be seen along this
walk is particularly spectacular during spring of after rain. The
shorter Olga Gorge (Walpa) Walk (one hour return) leads into the
deep, shade gorge created by the massive walls of the two highest
domes at Kata Tjuta. The view west at the end of the walk gives a
good impression of the scale of the huge sandstone domes. It is
well worth waiting for sunset which can be watched from a special
viewing area on the western side. About twenty minutes after the
sun has set, the yellow-pink western sky makes Kata Tjuta glow an
even deeper colour.
Kings Canyon - Watarrka National Park
star of Watarrka National Park (72 200 hectares) is Kings Canyon
located 9 kms from the resort on a good sealed road. The Kings
Canyon loop walk (three to four hours) around the canyon rim
should not be missed – it offers some of the best scenery in
Central Australia with splendid views from the one hundred metre
high sandstone canyon walls. There are interesting detours along
the way through a maze of weathered domes (the ‘lost city’) and a
sunken valley with permanent waterholes and lush vegetation (the
‘Garden of Eden’). The walk is quite strenuous in parts especially
the climb up to the canyon rim. The shorter (one hour return)
Kings Creek Walk meanders along the canyon floor to a lookout
point. Both tracks are rough underfoot. The natural features of
Watarrka National Park hold great significance for the local
Aboriginal people who live in three communities within the park
and conduct cultural tours.