Australia with about a third of its land covered by Desert and its serene outback offers an adventurous Desert trail for everyone to explore the beauty of the Landscape, desert vegetation and fauna. The Desert and outback’s are popular with tourists and group tours are available to popular landmarks including the ruins, springs and Australian Aboriginals with their culture & traditions. One of the easiest locations to start the Desert trail is Alice Springs which gives access to a number of trips that can be availed in group or one can even try solo. You can take a direct flight to Alice Springs from Sydney.
Popularly called the capital of Australian Outback is a big bold friendly town a must visit for people seeking adventure and cultural tour. The town is central to just about everything else in the outback which makes it ideal place to fly into and start one’s adventure, being the perfect base to explore central Australia from. The town is situated 15 KM from the airport hidden behind the MacDonnell Ranges and you drive in to the town through a startling gap in the ranges called ‘Ntaripe’ by local Aboriginal people. There is much to see in Alice spring and one must see place is the Desert park. The park is part zoo, part living natural history museum and part Aboriginal cultural tour. A visit to the Park embarks you on a journey of central Australia’s many different habitats and brings you close to kangaroos, emus, birds of prey and cute furry animals like Malas and Antechinus. Another place to visit is the Alice Springs Telegraph Station for a guided tour through restored historic buildings of first European settlement and also for a trip along the shady riverside grounds that are favorite for picnics/BBQ.
It is said, in Alice Spring’s visitors do not get time for boredom. There is always something happening in town, like live music, festivals exhibitions and crazy events like the Camel Cup or Beanie Festival. There are also adventure awaiting to be tried like the sunset camel ride, a sunrise balloon ride over the outback or an outback Harley Davidson ride etc. that make the visit memorable. Best time to Visit Alice Springs is from April to October.
From Alice Springs many attractions of Simpson Desert located on its fringes can be accessed on day trips. A four-wheel drive vehicle is required to mitigate the sandy terrain. If you do not have a vehicle or the confidence to head off on road alone, there are organized tours into Simpson Desert from Alice Springs which you can avail of. Such tour operators provide insight into the Aboriginal cultural significance of the area. One such landscape is the Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve situated about 75 KM south of Alice Springs. Rainbow valley is renowned for its Sandstone bluffs with band of different colored rocks. An easy trip from Alice Springs, it is at its most spectacular in the early morning light and at late Sun when the landscape changes from ochre red to orange and purple.
Another Landmark in the landscape is the Chambers Pillar situated about 130 KM from Alice Springs. The Pillar is a towering 50-meter column on a Desert plain formed from sandstone worn down by 350 million years of rain and wind. The local aboriginal people believe that the pillar is the Gecko ancestor Itirkawara banished for taking a wife from the wrong skin group who retreated into the desert. When they stopped to rest, they turned into prominent rock formations – Itirkawara into a pillar and the woman into castle rock 500m to the North West.
There are marked walking tracks that lead to the viewing platform or past the prominent features of Chamber Pillar. If you wish to take photographs you should time your visit for either Sunrise or Sunset when the pillar glows as the sun rays strike the surface.
Alice Springs can also be a perfect base for people wanting to experience the Australian outback in a short time frame. You can avail a 3-day guided trip with arranged groups to Uluru (Ayres Rock). You can witness the ancient monolith Uluru bathed in both early morning and late afternoon light and also be mesmerized by the towering façade of Kings Canyon and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). Driving through the sparse areas of the desert would give you an opportunity to sit back and enjoy the landscapes.
On day 1 you start from Alice Springs for Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and take a guided walk through the awe-inspiring Dome of Kata Tjuta. From there you head to Australia’s most iconic landmark Uluru (Ayres Rock). As the sun begins to set below the horizon you can enjoy the rock’s rich colors change against the backdrop of a blazing Red Centre sunset. At the end of a remarkable day, you camp for the night for a well-deserved rest.
On day 2 you start early morning to catch the beautiful Uluru sunrise. You can walk around the base of Uluru, gaining insights into the land and the local Mala Aboriginal people. After the morning stroll you can walk with the group to the cave paintings near Mutitjulu Waterhole at the base of Uluru. Here you will find Anangu guides who will share the stories of this unique landscape and explain the Art, the culture and connection to land which will give you an exclusive insight to the meaning behind Anangu art and traditional culture. If you wish to take some memories back home you can purchase some art and craft at the Uluru Cultural Centre. In the afternoon you travel to Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon). You will find exclusive campsite within the Park to eat and sleep for the night.
On day 3 you are at the Park and you head out early to explore the impressive formation of Kings Canyon. You will be left breathless by sheer beauty of the canyon, as you trek through the Amphitheatre, the lost city, the lush and ancient Garden of Eden and the North and South Walls. Lost in the enchanting beauties of the Desert trail you will hardly realize that it is time for you to drive back to Alice Springs to carry home memories and good times of Australian Outback.
The landscape of Australia seems to go on forever and there is a lot of untouched area waiting to be explored. If you are an adventurer at heart and looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience visiting these areas in this great continent should be a must in your list of places to travel.