Ayers Rock & Australia’s Northern Territory

Ayers-Rock and australias northern territoryUluru, more commonly known as Ayers Rock is one of Australia’s greatest natural landmarks.

Despite its remote location in the southern part of the Northern Territory, Uluu-Kata Tjuta National Park is a honey pot for tourism with over 400,000 visiting this World Heritage Site each year.

Ayers Rock Australia

ALICE SPRINGS

I made my way to Ayers Rock in January 2011. I flew to Alice Springs from Cairns, picked up a rental car and checked in to one of the worst hostels ever for a nights kip before taking on the six hour journey to Uluru National Park the following morning.

The hostel I stayed at for my stopover in Alice Springs was Annie’s Place. This hostel seemed to have good reviews and had been popular among backpackers however I certainly wasn’t impressed upon arrival or during my stay. I won’t go into too much detail however as in 2014 Annie’s Place closed down. I wasn’t surprised to hear this due to my personal experience but I was sad to hear that a hostel that seemed so popular with many others has closed its doors after 15 years of trade.

Alice Springs is home to many Aboriginal people and with the indigenous occupation of the region dating back at least 30,000 years it certainly should feel that way. Unfortunately I found Alice Springs to be rather hostile. This wasn’t because I was treated poorly, I wasn’t but I did see, first hand the ways in which the local Aboriginal people were treated. This was something I found quite shocking and I’m sad to say it tainted my opinion of the town and unsettled my stay here.

Generally speaking the town has everything you would require for your stay. Restaurants, hotels, hostels, supermarkets and a shopping centre. Alice Springs’ airport is very close to the town and everything is fairly convenient considering you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere…. and you sort of are.

As I mentioned, my stay in Alice Springs was merely to rest my head before setting off the next day… and I was excited to experience the wonder of the great Australian landmark I’d heard so much about.

Alice Springs

I rented a 4×4 Mitsubishi. This isn’t entirely necessary for the journey ahead but if you’re a lover of big 4×4’s then this trip is the perfect excuse to rent one. I set off early and other than re-fueling, drove straight through. Its a little strange driving in a straight line for hour after hour, rarely passing any sign of life but its also strangely satisfying….at least it is when you’re on the red and finally come across a petrol pump.

ULURU NATIONAL PARK

Visiting Uluru National Park costs $25 Australian Dollars for a three day pass.

The National Park has a few shops and amenities scattered about along with numerous camping sites and hostels/hotels. Tarmac roads lead you to everything on offer including all the best look out’s and vantage points.

I stayed at the Outback Pioneer. I had a basic room but it was very comfortable. There were very clean and well kept toilets and communal kitchens that had everything you may require. I was very happy with my stay here and would stay again. Thoroughly recommended!

ULURU / AYERS ROCK

Ayers Rock is a short drive from the Outback Pioneer and I chose to visit it at both daytime and sunrise during my stay – something I would definitely recommend.

Ayers Rock

Unfortunately in 2009 the Australian government prohibited tourists climbing Ayers Rock. However, even prior to the ban, the climb was discouraged. The local Aṉangu people do not climb Uluru due to the great spiritual significance it has to their culture and they requested that visitors do not climb the Ayers Rock as a mark of respect. This is partly due to the climbing path crossing a sacred traditional Dreamtime track.

Ayers Rock, Australia

Ayers Rock is extremely fascinating and you’ll be amazed how much time you’ll spend taking it all in. There are numerous markings on the walls of Uluru. Some of these are clearer than others due to weathering but they are interesting to try and decipher. There are also many base walks you can do around the edge of Ayers Rock as well as a road that circles the rock for those who would rather drive round in the comfort and air conditioning of their car.

Ayers Rock

TOP TIP –  main suggestion for those planning to visit would be to see Ayers Rock in the day, at sunrise, sunset, in sunlight and cloud. This amazing landmarks’ appearance alters and its colours change depending on the natural light. 

KATA TJUTA A.K.A. THE OLGAS

Kata Tjuta is located a short drive away from Ayers Rock and is equally as impressive and mesmerizing.

This rock formation is made up of 36 domes and stands 3,497 feet tall at it’s highest point.

The Olgas

I arrived at Kata Tjuta by midday. By this time the sun was out in all its glory and boy was it hot! The heat also brought with it what seemed like an army of flies that made walking around the site a little less enjoyable. So before long I made my way back to the car and off to my next stop, just outside of the National Park; Kings Canyon.

The Olgas, Australia

KINGS CANYON

I heard that Kings Canyon was worth a visit whilst out in the Northern Territory. It’s located in the Watarrka National Park and with its walls standing at a mighty 100 metres high it’s a very impressive canyon.

Kings Canyon

There are 3 trails you can follow. A 2km walk around the base of the canyon with numerous lookouts along the way. There is also a 22km walk called the Giles Track which is popular for the more advanced hikers.

I opted for the third option however; a 6km canyon rim walk. This walk takes about 3-4 hours and signs at the base recommend you to have at least 3 litres of water per person. The signs also suggest for you not to attempt this walk at midday due to the extreme heat.

So I set off, first ascending the step climb up ‘Heartbreak Hill’ (no need to translate that one) and up to the top of the canyon. The views of the gorge are instantly spectacular but I can’t stress enough – make sure you have plenty of water and avoid the midday sun at all costs.

Kings Canyon, Australia

Half way around you take the steps down, descending into the Garden of Eden. This water hole is surrounded by wildlife, flora and fauna. It is also a very welcome pit stop, sheltered beneath the canyon walls in the blissful shade where you can take a moment to catch your breath or even take a dip in the clear Eden waters.

AYERSROCK-garden-of-eden-3140

Once you’ve reached the canyon’s top again you continue round and through a maze of sandstone domes before taking a final decent back to the starting point and more importantly back to the comfort of my air conditioned 4×4.

Kings Canyon

I would thoroughly recommend this walk. It is the best way to see the Canyon in its entirety and for me, Kings Canyon was the highlight of my whole trip to the Northern Territory. Although lesser known than it’s more infamous brother Ayers Rock, it offered everything I was hoping for. That feeling of remoteness, adventure and discovery and all through simply immersing yourself in a little bit of mother nature.