The Northern Territory Rock Tour
The Northern Territory Rock Tour is the best way to see some of Australia’s beautiful desert and landscape on a budget. On this three-day tour, you will get to see the sandstone domes of the Lost City, the Valley of the Winds in Kata Tjuta, and experience possibly the most memorable sunset and sunrise of your life over Uluru. Keep reading to find out more about the places you could be visiting…
Day 1 – Kings Canyon
Standing at 270m high, Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park and is situated at the western end of the George Gill Range. The walls of Kings Canyon are over 100 metres high and part of the gorge is a sacred Aboriginal site. From here, the views are breathtaking. The tour takes you on a three-hour hike through the red domes of the Lost City, the weathered formations that resembles those of an Aztec city. You will have the opportunity to swim in the tropical watering hole that is the Garden of Eden, a natural spring waterhole. The landscape surrounding this true oasis is filled with palm trees, exotic plants and huge prehistoric ferns. That night, you will camp at Curtin Springs, where you can help prepare a healthy camp-oven dinner and then relax whilst looking up at the stars.
Day 2 – Kata Tjuta & Uluru Sunset
Kata Tjuta, meaning ‘many heads’, is the collective name given to the series of domed rock in NT that features Uluru, also known as ‘Ayers Rock’. The tallest rock is ‘Mount Olga’, which is 1500ft high. On your hike, you will get the chance to try to real ‘bush tucker’ (don’t worry – it is optional). After experiencing the Valley of the Winds, you will go to the Aboriginal Cultural Centre to learn about Dreamtime. This is the Aboriginal belief that all life can be traced back to the spirit ancestors of the Dreamtime. It is the beginning of knowledge, where before the Earth was flat and in darkness. The sun then broke out through the crust of the Earth. This could be your spiritual awakening, but if not, you’ll then get the chance to witness the Uluru change colour. Well, it doesn’t magically turn disco, but due to the changing light, the rock appears to glow red at sunset. Either way, it’s quite remarkable. The night is spent at Ayers Rock Campground.
Day 3 – Uluru Sunrise
On this morning, you’ll be able to watch Uluru transform again as the sun rises. The rock is actually very sacred to the Anangu Aboriginal people. They say that when you climb Uluru, you follow in the footsteps of the Mala men, who used to climb the rock for ceremony. For this reason, there have been debates about whether to let people climb the monolith. It is managed by both Australian and Anangu parks departments, who work together to allow the general public onto the rock. There are a lot of safety concerns with Uluru due to factors including heat, rain, wind, cloud and culture. It is best to read up about these points before attempting to climb the rock. However, on this tour, you will only have time to complete the Uluru Base Walk. This 9.4km tour will let you take in the sights of the Mutijulu Waterhole, luscious woodlands and some Aboriginal cave paintings. On your way back to Alice Springs where dinner and a couple of beers awaits you, you will have the option of going on a camel ride.
This three-day / two-night tour departs daily at 6am from Alice Springs or Ayers Rock Airport, depending on your pick-up preference. The tour company supply: All meals as stated, air-conditioned 21 seat bus, a tour guide, swags and camping equipment (you can hire a sleeping bag for $15 each).
You will need to bring: Travel voucher, a small bag, sturdy walking shoes, torch, hat, sun-cream, two water bottles, towel, swimming costume / shorts, toiletries, camera and sunglasses. Of course, you’ll need warm clothes if you’re traveling in winter and light-fitting clothes for the summer. There are showers and toilets at both of the campsites.
The NT Rock Tour offers three different tour options at the same price at $355. Option one: Start your tour in Alice Springs and end your tour at Alice Springs at 5pm. Option two: Start your tour in Alice Springs and end your tour mid-morning at Ayers Rock Airport. Option three: Start your tour at Ayers Rock Airport and end your tour in Alice Springs at 5pm. The company also offers Flight & Rock packages (one way) from a number of airports in Australia (see website for more details).