6 Things to see & do in the Red Centre

Why Australia’s “Red Centre” should be on your travel wish list?

The Red Centre is located deep in the Northern Territory and pretty much the centre of the continent. It is a destination that is on many people’s bucket list. And that’s not without reason. Although it is extremely remote from it’s nearest cities, such as Darwin and Adelaide, it is an iconic destination offering visitors much to see and do.

Part of “The Outback”, central to Australia’s image, The Red Centre owes its name to the colour of its surroundings. The vast deserts of the Northern Territory are — you guessed it — red. It is home to a magnificent landscape of desert plains, mountain ranges, rocky gorges and some of aboriginal Australians’ most sacred sites. Think of the magical Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Lake Amadeus.

No Australian tour is truly complete without an Outback experience and the Red Centre is a great place to experience Australia’s great open spaces. Not surprising then that many of our Australian tours include this fascinating destination.

Trekking the Larapinta Trail

Alice Springs

Alice Springs is the third largest city or town in the Northern Territory after Darwin and Palmerston. It has just over 30,000 inhabitants — as you’ll discover this part of Australia isn’t about urban centres! When visiting Alice Springs – referred to by some as the capital of the Outback – expect a warm welcome from a surprisingly diverse local community.

Enjoy traditional aboriginal artwork in one of the town’s many art galleries, like Papunya Tjupi Art Centre  and Araluen Arts Centre. You’ll learn about local peoples who have lived in the region for thousands of years. And you can be sure of a colourful and meaningful experience.

Another must-do activity, for those who like to get active, is to walk (part of) the breathtaking Larapinta Trail. National Geographic votes this one as one of the top 20 trekking experiences worldwide. In total, this trail is 223 km long, but you can also walk small parts of it.

Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Uluru is often seen as the heart of the Red Centre. This spectacular natural formation is 348 meters high and is one of the world’s largest monoliths.

Besides the beauty of this place, people often feel a spiritual connection with it. The colour of the surroundings and the monolith itself will leave an unforgettable feeling with the visitors. This is also part of the reason why it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Around Uluru, you can relax and visit springs, explore waterholes and rock caves or see ancient paintings. For those who want to see more of Uluru, the Uluru Base Walk is also recommended. This 10 km hike takes you all around the rock formation. Of course, it is also possible to opt for a shortened version here.

Field of Light Uluru

Near Uluru, you can visit the Field of Light. This installation was created by British artist, Bruce Munro. It consists of 50,000 solar-powered stems and globes that represent a field of glowing flowers. First set up in 2017 as a temporary art installation, its success and enduring appeal has seen it still in place many years later and set to run for the foreseeable future.

Although Field of Light Uluru shares part of its name with Uluru (Ayers Rock), it is located in the small village of Yulara, 25 km north of Uluru. Several tours are organized from Ayers Rock Resort in Yulara to admire this spectacle during sunset or sunrise.

( Want to know more? We have delved deeper into the art installation’s history and ways to experience it in describing five things you need to know about this stunning art installation and experience.)

Kata Tjuta

The Rock Domes of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) are located 40 km west of Uluru. It is sacred to the local Anangu people who have inhabited the area for more than 22,000 years. This place is also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site of natural and cultural value. It is part of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Kata Tjuta consists of 36 different domes, the highest of which is 1,066 meters above sea level. This one has the name Mount Olga. Take the time here to absorb this wonderful phenomenon. Take things in from an observation point or soak in your surroundings on a short walk.

Chances are this special place and its stunning geographic features will leave an impression you will never forget!

Watarrka National Park

Watarrka National Park is located between Alice Springs and Yulara. In this national park, you can find a scenic landscape of rugged ranges, rockholes and gorges. It is also home to many plants and animals. Look out for iconic Aussie fauna here. You may spot camels, kangaroos, wallabies, emu and dingoes.

A visit to the park is not complete without going to Kings Canyon. You can aslo compare this area to Yosemite Valley in the USA. The canyon is full of the largest remaining grove of sequoia trees in the world. Also, with deep valleys, skyscraping trees and impressive rock formations, it is definitely worth going here too.

Lake Amadeus

Lake Amadeus is a salt lake in the southwest corner of the Northern Territory region. Found 50 km north of Uluru, a comparatively short distance in the Outback, the lake is 1800 km long & 10 km wide. This makes it the largest salt lake in the Northern Territory.

Due to drought, the surface is usually a dry salt crust. And the crust on the up to 600 million tonnes of salt in the lake can turn from pink during the rising sun to silver at night. A very special transformation to observe.

The most common way to admire Lake Amadeus is via a flight with Ayers Rock Scenic Flights. A scenic flight offers you an aerial view of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and the lake.

Are you ready for the magical Red Centre?

Although it is a remote place, there are more things to see and do in the Red Centre than we’ve touched on here. TripAdvisor, the Northern Territory visitor site and Tourism Australia offer useful help for further expanding your knowledge and preparing for a trip to the Red Centre.

Interested in exploring The Red Centre? We can help you choose an Australia tour that includes this stunning region. Got questions? Contact us. We’ve got answers and would love to help you find the Red Centre experience you are looking for as part of a tour.