Looking back at my Gap Year around Australia, my memories always take me back to my incredible trip to the Northern Territory and exploring the Red Centre, stopping off at Alice Springs, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and hiking around the Kings Canyon.
It was near close to the end of my trip around Australia, and my Gap Year funds were running low. Like many backpackers at this stage of the trip, I almost skipped this section of Australia completely. In the end, I’m happy that it all pulled together, and I managed to make it all happen with my shoestring budget.
Now I’m a lot older, flying directly from London to Darwin and going on a road trip around the Northern Territory sounds like a fun idea. Especially to explore the outdoors and nature across this unique part of the world.
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my trip in Australia. The Northern Territory including the Red Centre is a stunning place that can’t be missed.
I took a guided tour with Adventure Tours Australia, exploring the Red Centre of the Northern Territory, Australia visiting Alice Springs, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and Kings Canyon on a 3-day road trip adventure.
This was a great way to meet other backpackers taking the same trip. We had a local guide who knew the area well, so we were in good hands every step of the way.
The Red Centre of Northern Territory, Australia is known as the country’s central desert region and offers an extraordinary landscape of desert plains, weathered mountain ranges, rocky gorges and some of Aboriginal Australia’s most sacred sites.
Here is my guide all about what I did on my Gap Year trip to the Red Centre of the Northern Territory, Australia.
Starting the adventure in Alice Springs, Northern Territory
Alice Springs is a remote town in Australia’s Northern Territory, located halfway between the Australian cities of Darwin and Adelaide (equally around 1,500km away).
Alice Springs is a popular gateway for exploring the Red Centre of the Northern Territory.
This was where I flew from Sydney to meet up with Adventure Tours Australia to join them on their Uluru adventure.
I stayed overnight at Aurora Alice Springs hotel and had a great bite to eat at Page 27 Cafe which had cool tables made from recycled skateboards. They serve a rather good coffee as well, if you’re looking for a nice breakfast spot in town.
After staying overnight in Alice Springs we had an early start at 06:05 am! Not ideal for backpackers but with an almost five to six-hour drive ahead from Alice Springs to Uluru it was best to hit the road and have a bit of a kip on the way.
Experience an Uluru sunrise like no other
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is of course the highlight and main attraction of any visit to the Red Centre of the Northern Territory and can’t be missed.
My favourite way to experience my first sighting of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park was to wake up super early and watch the sunrise.
Grab some breakfast popcorn as the experience will be spectacular, you’re in for a show for sure.
From pure darkness, the sun will gently pop out over the top of Uluru to reveal itself and its incredible beauty.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is considered a living cultural landscape and home to the spirits of the ancestors, making it a sacred place for the Anangu people.
Once you’ve enjoyed a spectacular sunrise and you’re ready to start a new day, go for a walk around the base of the rock.
I would recommend going on a guided cultural walk to gain insights into the land and the local Mala people. The interpretive cultural walk with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Guide helps to understand the importance that Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park has.
Be sure to stop by the Uluru Cultural Centre to purchase some art and crafts from the First Peoples of Australia.
Experience sleeping in a swag under the stars in the outback
My favourite night’s sleep in Australia was stopping off at a campsite a few hours out from Uluru on our way back from Kings Canyon.
We were pretty much in the Australian outback with no light pollution at all allowing us a wonderful star gazing experience like no other.
A swag is like a sleeping bag built into a waterproof canvas. All you have to do is simply roll it out like a mat and then pop inside to fall asleep. It’s rather simple and easy and a great way to sleep in the outback of Australia.
Being in the middle of nowhere, in pure darkness and with clear skies, gives you the ultimate star-gazing experience in your swag in the outback. Just enjoy the show and fall asleep, how amazing is that!
It was a sleeping experience in the outback that I will never forget. The sky was covered in stars, I’ve never seen a sky quite like it, a unique experience for sure.
Hike around the rim of the incredible Kings Canyon
I’ve never seen such an incredible collection of rock formations than whilst hiking around the Kings Canyon, in the Red Centre of the Northern Territory, Australia.
The hike is an easy-to-follow loop formation around the rim of the canyon and is around 8.5km long and will take you around four hours to complete.
The drive to Kings Canyon is around an additional four hours from Uluru and shouldn’t be missed on a trip to the Red Centre of the Northern Territory.
Kings Canyon is a massive gorge enclosed by a large collection of sheer rock walls which are hundreds of metres high.
Kings Canyon offers a much-welcomed escape from the desert heat, with its deep gullies and hidden rockpools providing shelter to over 600 different species of native plants and animals.
Having a guide join you on your hike around the Kings Canyon, they will be able to point out all these hidden gems such as the Lost City, Garden of Eden, the Amphitheatre and North and South Walls as well as a whole host of other different rock formations.
Hiking around the Kings Canyon was a highlight for me, it’s a great way to spend a day exploring the great outdoors and the unique landscape that the Northern Territory has to offer.
Thank you for reading my guide about visiting the Red Centre of the Northern Territory
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experience exploring the Red Centre of the Northern Territory, Australia.
It was a highlight of my Gap Year around Australia and I almost didn’t go ahead with it, so I hope this inspires you to make that additional booking for your Australian Gap Year trip.
If you would like some further information about planning your Northern Territory adventure, be sure to check out their website which offers an incredible resource of information.
If you have any questions about this trip or would like to know more about NT or Australia, please feel free to reach out to me on social media and I’ll be happy to help. Have an amazing time travelling around the Northern Territory and Australia.