'Travel Correspondent' Katina Feels The Beat Of Australia's Red Heart

20 October 2014
Read Time: 2.1 mins

Travelling to Uluru is an adventure many Australians pass on in favour of exploring faraway lands, but not for NT journo Katina Vangopoulos. As one of five Flight Centre 'travel correspondents', Katina decided to give herself and her mum Julie a travel education on the Red Centre over one dusty, dreamy October long weekend.

"Arriving in Alice Springs to a somewhat slow start – airport shuttles being terribly ineffective – the afternoon was loaded with lunch at coffee hub Page 27, a walk up Anzac Hill for a perfect panoramic view, and a drink at hipster hangout Monte's before dinner at Asian-fusion Hanuman's flagship restaurant. Meandering around Alice's town centre gives way to discovering historical buildings and beautiful indigenous art.

 A tasty pit-stop at Alice Springs' Page 27 cafe

Day tours to Uluru require a 6am start from Alice, so travellers be warned: there is no rest for the wicked! A stop at a true Outback roadhouse came en route, and then at sand dunes of red beautifully contrasting with the white of not-too-distant salt lakes. The red earth of Central Australia is truly like nothing else; dusty and incredibly fitting with the baking desert heat.

Kata Tjuta – meaning 'many heads' and also known as The Olgas – is a beautiful site and as sacred to the Anangu indigenous peoples as Uluru itself. Taking a walk through Walpa Gorge is a reminder of nature's greatness where dusty curves are littered with black water stains. Flynets bought inAlice became our best friends, as even in strong winds little flies remain relentless.

 Capturing classic Outback moments

Time at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park's Cultural Centre gives the opportunity to learn more about the Uluru site before you arrive at the massive monolith, with information explaining its history and the peaceful campaign to stop people from climbing the rock.

Within Uluru's almighty presence, the Mala Walk and Mutitjulu Waterhole trail give insight into Anangu rituals and rock art. To try to grasp the formation's 600-million year existence as you look up at it, as well as its significance to the Anangu people, is an overwhelming experience.

 Katina, Julie and the umissable Uluru

The moment you first see Uluru is unforgettable; walking around parts of it is something else. Watching the colours change as the sun goes down is yet another experience not to be missed, allowing you to take in a most impressive show of natural wonder.

To make the most of the Central Australian experience, a trip to Kings Canyon completes the trifecta – a natural formation unlike anything else in Australia. The Rim Walk is a hard slog to start, but rewards with views of the desert horizon. Refuelling at the resort restaurant afterwards is as Outback as it gets - a camel burger is worth a try!

 Bucket list tick: A camel ride in the Red Centre

A sunrise camel ride with Uluru and Kata Tjuta in sight had always been on the cards, having convinced Julie to give it a go. Chatting with the tour guides and being treated to some traditional damper was warming amidst the cold, early morning air.

That feeling reflected our time in the Red Centre well, where we had made new friends and shared an experience all Australians should know in their lifetime."

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About Katina Vangopoulos

A journalist in Darwin by day and travel dreamer by night, Katina always looks to what potential destination could be next. She believes in a healthy mix of Australian and overseas journeys, taking any chance to jump in a car or on a plane to discover new things and meet like-minded people. Her life's adventures and thoughts are blogged across 'When the Cheshire emerges...' and 'being eNTertained'.
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