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8 Red Centre Adventures You Can’t Miss

The Red Centre is bursting at the seams with adventure. There are the classic places to explore, like Uluru and Alice Springs, and unexpected adventures you might not hear about until your feet are firmly on the red dirt itself, like at Kings Canyon and the West Macs. 

Whether it’s your first trip to The Red Centre or your 50th, these are our top eight Red Centre adventures you simply can’t miss on a trip to Central Australia. 

 

1. Hit the MTB Trails of Alice Springs 

Location: Alice Springs and surrounds
Skill Level: Beginner to advanced
Cost: Free if you have your own bike!
Best time of year: April to September

Did you know Alice Springs is a mountain biking hub? On either side of town, up and over the West and East MacDonnell Ranges, you’ll find kilometres and kilometres of mountain bike tracks waiting for you to let it rip! 

Whether you’re just finding your pedalling feet again or are a singletrack superstar, there’s a mountain bike track calling your name. And if you are just visiting town and don't have your own bike with you, there are hire options available with Outback Cycling, Red Centre Adventures and MyRide.

Mountain Biking 4

2. 4WD to Palm Valley

Location: Finke Gorge National Park
Skill Level: Intermediate
Cost: $10/adult, $5/child - book online
Best time of year: April to September

One of The Red Centre’s best-kept secrets, just getting to Palm Valley in Finke Gorge National Park is a thrilling adventure. The 4WD track to Palm Valley campground starts off corrugated, and ends up full of ruts, boulders, and drop-offs – a 4WDers dream!

When you finally arrive, (car intact, hopefully!) don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve landed in the tropics, as you wander through a grove of palm trees that spring up out of the desert, like magic– how do you think the place got its name?

Or if you don't have a suitable car or the 4WD skills to get you there safely, lucky for you there are tour companies who can get you there. 

Palm Valley 4WD

3. Conquer the Kings Canyon Rim Walk 

Location: Kings Canyon, Watarrka National Park
Skill Level: Intermediate
Cost: Free!
Best time of year: Between April and September

Sometimes Kings Canyon gets a bit overlooked, what with Uluru and the West MacDonnell Ranges sandwiching it in from both sides. But the Kings Canyon Rim Walk is more than worth the visit, especially if you set your alarm and get cracking for sunrise. 

Now I’ve used the word ‘conquer’ because there’s a pretty mean set of 500 stairs you’ve got to climb right at the start to get to the top of the canyon, so it’s definitely a challenge to defeat! But once you’re up there, trust me, it’ll all be worth it.

Kings Canyon Rim Walk Domes 2

4. Ride around the base of Uluru

Location: Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park
Skill Level: Beginner
Cost: Bike hire $60 for adults + park entry fee
Best time of year: Between April and September

Now this is an adventure everyone can get around. Cycling around the base of Uluru is a terrific way to see the rock from all sides, without spending hours out in the heat! 

The 15km loop around Uluru follows parts of the Base Walk track, with a little bit of road riding mixed in. But the best part is, it’s as flat as an A4 piece of paper so you can cruuuuise. 

Bikes are for hire through Outback Cycling who are conveniently located right by Uluru, at the Cultural Centre. 

Uluru Cycling

5. Sunrise at the top of Mt Sonder

Location: West MacDonnell Ranges
Skill Level: Advanced
Cost: Free! *if camping overnight it is $4pp + $25pp to do the hike as it is section 12 of the Larapinta Trail - see more here
Best time of year: Between April and September

Ahh Mt Sonder. The infallible finale of the Larapinta Trail and highest point in the West MacDonnell Ranges. But, no one said you have to hike all 223km to get to the top. Instead, camp at the base (Redbank Gorge) and make it a sunrise mission!

The trailhead can be found at Redbank Gorge car park where there’s a campground close by for Larapinta hikers. The 15.8km hike is nearly all uphill on the way to the 1280m summit, so make sure you’re up for the challenge. From the top, you’ll have an unobstructed view of the entire region, you’re on the rooftop of The Red Centre after all! 

Mt Sonder sunrise

6. Wild swimming at Ellery Creek

Location: West MacDonnell Ranges
Skill Level: Beginner
Cost: Free!
Best time of year: April to September

If you’ve never visited The Red Centre before, stumbling across the magnificent swimming holes of the West MacDonnell Ranges will probably come as a shock! Ellery Creek Big Hole is the first of four swimmable gorges along Namatjira Drive and is the most easily accessible, at just a short walk from the car park. 

Find a sandy space to lay your towel under the River gums as you stare in awe up at the protruding gorge in front of you. But you’ll do well to resist the call of the water for too long! The freshwater can be pretty chilly, so take it slow. We highly recommend bringing something inflatable to lounge on!

Ellery Creek Big Hole

7. Skydiving Uluru (currently closed due to Covid)

Location: Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park
Skill Level: No skill, just courage
Cost: From $403 per person
Best time of year: Currently closed due to Covid

Could there be a more iconic way to see Uluru than from the air? And no, I don’t mean peering out the tiny plastic window of a plane, but falling and floating through the sky after jumping out of said plane instead. 

Yes, skydiving over Uluru is a real thing and it’s guaranteed to get your heart thrashing and give you a great perspective on why the monolith of Uluru is so significant in the surrounding flat plains. If you only skydive once in your life, why wouldn’t it be over Uluru?

Skydive Uluru

8. Helicopter Canyon Dash 

Location: Kings Canyon, Watarrka National Park
Skill Level: Beginner
Cost: $110
Best time of year: All year round!

Looking for a quick, cheap way to turn your Red Centre holiday into an unforgettable adrenaline experience? An eight minute Canyon Dash over Kings Canyon might be just what you need to top off an extraordinary trip. 

Gain sky-high views of the red sandstone cliffs of Kings Canyon and the luscious grove on the canyon floor, known as The Garden of Eden. Flights happen all day long, from 8:30am until sunset and provide the ultimate photography opportunity. This is one adventure not to be missed. 

Kings Canyon PHS Aerial sunset

Article guest written by We Are Explorers. See more from We Are Explorers on their website.

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