50 Shades Of Red: The Adventurous Outback

11 May 2015
Read Time: 2.7 mins

You step out of your truck and leave boot prints in the hard red earth underfoot. The horizon around you is infinite, broken only by the occasional tree and two distinguishable shapes in the distance.

One is Uluru, an 863-metre sandstone giant. The other is Kata Tjuta: large rock formations that are said to house the great snake king Wanambi from Indigenous Dreamtime lore.

It's here your adventure into Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park begins. And as you make your way towards the horizon, countless opportunities are revealed.

 There's an exciting vastness to Australia's Outback (image: Carlie Tucker)

Choose Your Wheels

Exploration of the National Park and its surrounding areas isn't solely done on foot or via car. Starting in Kings Creek Station, you can set out on quad bikes that bring out the fun in sand dunes. These tours run regularly and incorporate plenty of speed with wildlife spotting, investigating caves and Indigenous teachings. Opt for an overnight adventure and you'll be able to campout under the stars.

A beaten track of untamed wilderness awaits you in the Northern Territory's south and it can only be traversed with the right vehicle. 4WD tours leaving Ayres Rock Resort grant access to the region's most remote areas, where many never tread. Prepare yourself for taking on terrain that would leave other vehicles in disrepair.

Modern-day outlaws don't use horses or camels; they ride Harleys. Jump on the back of a late-model Harley Davidson motorcycle to cruise around Uluru, admiring its intricate features while feeling the dry desert air rushing past.

 Harleys go surprisingly well with the rugged Outback atmosphere (image: Northern Territory Tourism)

Legends Of The Outback

Despite the few resorts near Uluru, it's easy to leave civilization far behind. Embark on the renowned Giles Track walking tour and the outlines of buildings on the horizon will quickly fade away.

Instead, you're left with the same elements faced by legendary explorers Burke and Wills and writer Robyn Davidson, famous for her novel-turned-film Tracks. Barren desert paths eventually reach ancient canyons where you can find contrasting worlds of lush vegetation and waterholes.

The 22-kilometre Giles Track takes you from Kings Canyon to Kathleen Springs. The former offers 360-degree vistas of the Northern Territory along with a tranquil waterhole called 'the Garden of Eden'.

Take the overnight journey and you might encounter native wildlife including wallabies, goannas and pythons, along with traces of ancient Indigenous culture.

 Trek high and far through Kings Canyon (image: Ben Stower)

More Uluru experiences. First Date With Uluru

Venture further into the NT. Go Wild With The Kids In Australia’s Top End


A Flight To Remember

The red earth falls far beneath as you take off into the clear blue sky in either a helicopter or single-propeller plane. Your destinations may be Uluru and Kata Tjutu, but the working cattle stations, camel farms and majestic sandstone cliffs you fly over beforehand are just as fascinating.

Uluru and Kata Tjuta dominate the landscape from below, yet from the air you'll understand how truly gigantic they are when compared to the miniscule people walking around them. You'll also see parts of the landmarks that are otherwise out of view and perhaps develop a deeper understanding of their importance.

An Experience Once Thought Impossible

When you're 12,000 feet (3,657 metres) above the ground and Uluru is a speck of red beneath you, the last thing you might be thinking is "jump". Yet that's exactly what you'll do when you take an Uluru skydiving tour.

It goes against all natural instinct to leap out of that plane, but once you're falling through the air the feeling is one of unbridled adrenalin. Your parachute opens and the freefall is over soon after it begins, but the memory remains long after your feet touch the ground.

The leisurely parachute ride is half the experience – five minutes where you can admire the vast expanse of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in a way few people dreamed possible. As you drift closer to earth there's an almost indescribable feeling of amazement of what you've just done and what you're witnessing below, the latter normally reserved solely for the wonders of this world.

 Let the red earth rush up to meet you on a thrilling skydive (image: Skydive Ayers Rock)

Your Red Centre Journey

Embark on your own Outback adventure with a self-drive tour along the Red Centre Way, stretching from Alice Springs right into Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Taking a minimum of five days, you'll have plenty of time to get to know the diverse landscape around you.

The Red Centre Way is a drive for thinking, seeing and understanding, completely separate from any route or highway you might have tackled before. On the way you'll discover the stunning Kings Canyon and Ormiston Gorge, while occasionally encountering native wildlife.
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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Uluru.

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Ben Stower

I love the kind of travelling that is one part strategic planning and two parts spontaneous adventure. Whether I'm exploring my local city or a small town in the middle of nowhere, I'm always hoping to find something no one else has discovered.