The Red Centre
The Red Centre is an adventurous road trip in the Northern Territory that showcases Australia's dramatic desert landscape. Begin from Alice Springs and travel through the magical surroundings of Uluru – aka Ayers Rock, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. We’d suggest at least five days to explore the heart of Australia, and even then you will wish you had more time.
Alice Springs to Alice Springs
Best Time of the Year
April to November
- Outback Ballooning
- Mount Conner
- Redbank Gorge Pools
Alice Springs to Glen Helen
Distance 132km - Driving Time 2 hours
Leaving from Alice Springs, head west along Larapinta Drive into the heart of the jagged MacDonnell Ranges. Early risers wanting a should take a sunrise hot-air balloon ride over Alice Springs and surrounding area with Outback Ballooning before hitting the road – a truly awesome experience to kick off the trip.
Turn back onto Larapinta Drive and continue down towards Glen Helen where you will discover a plethora of gorges, ochre pits and natural pools that make up the unique Australian Outback. Glen Helen has its own permanent waterhole, an oasis in the Northern Territory warmth. Set up camp in the area from around $12 per person and hike or bike atop the towering sand-cliffs. Alternatively, go for a splash in the waterhole and kick-back in this natural oasis.
Glen Helen to Kings Canyon
Distance 260km - Driving Time 2 hours
Start your drive off by a having a dip in the Gorge Pools, which are shaded by the red cliffs. Hire a tube from Glen Helen Resort and spend an hour or two floating along the cool waters.
Continuing along from here takes you to Gosse Bluff. Hike to the top, and marvel at the eroded remnants of a meteor impact millions of years ago. Hire sites for your 4WD campervan are available in the Kings Canyon Resort area. There is much to see and do - a good start is the three hour walk along the rim of Kings Canyon that offers spanning views of the desert.
Kings Canyon to Uluru
Distance 326km - Driving Time 4.2 hours
With another lengthy day of driving ahead, make sure you’re taking lots of rest stops – start your day off by stopping at Mt Conner, often mistaken for Uluru. The view from the top of the salt plains is worth the stop. After snapping a few pictures, head down to the real Uluru, one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks. Once at Uluru, find camp in the Ayers Rock Resort, located in the beautiful Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Uluru to Kata Tjuta
Distance 59km - Driving Time 1 hour
Enchanting Uluru – or Ayers Rock- is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most iconic and special landmarks and is hugely culturally significant for the Pitjantjatjara Anangu people, the inhabitants of the area. They offer walking tours in which they teach visitors about the local flora and fauna, bush foods and the Aboriginal dreamtime stories of the area.
However, there are so many more activities at Uluru to experience: ride a camel or quad bike across sand dunes, and have first-hand experience of this culture rich in art, music and performance.
Make sure you squeeze in a walk around Uluru, preferably at sunset or sunrise when the rock appears to glow red. After you’ve spent the day exploring, head west along Lasseter Highway for 58.8km (about an hour) to reach the nearby Kata Tjuta. Part of the same national park and also a sight to behold, these large red dome-shaped rocks that rise above the desert are another essential stop. Whether here or at Uluru, be sure to watch the sunset to experience the rocks in different dramatic lights.
Uluru to Alice Springs
Distance 468km - Driving Time 6.5
The next leg of the trip can be completed in less than a day, but will take you a solid six and a half hours. Along the Stuart Highway you'll find easy access to sandstone bluffs and cliffs of Rainbow Valley perfect for stretching the legs while enjoying some more adventure.
The Red Centre road trip is a perfect way to see the icons of Central Australian Desert. From the oasis of Glen Helen, to the magnificent sights of the desert from Kings Canyon and the Uluru-Kata a National Park; its a trip not to be missed.
To get started on this journey, book a Britz campervan today.