Central Australia is aboriginal Australia at its finest. The arid landscape oozes culture and tradition, with an endless canvas of bright blue sky stretched overhead. Flat desert roads lead to gargantuan rock formations erupting from the earth. The air hangs thick with the history of the oldest continuous culture in the world.
The hot, dry centre of Australia is an area which many travellers overlook. Not a lot of Australians bother to make the trip either. People see the area as too far from the popular coastal towns and expensive to travel to. Many people take the easier option of staying by the coast rather than spending a fortune travelling to the centre to see a lot of dust and a big rock. But central Australia is not just about Uluru (Ayres rock) and the sheer magnitude of the region far outweighs the cost or inconvenience of travelling there.
We embarked on a six day tour from Alice Springs to Adelaide, which took in the main sites of central Australia. We were picked up at dawn, under a blanket of pink sky and began a long drive out into the great beyond.
Our awesome Ozzy tour guide, Sam, explained our itinerary for the next few days. If we’re being totally honest, we hadn’t heard of most of the places he mentioned and were only really interested in seeing the big rock. However Sam’s enthusiasm for the places and the culture he was going to share with us really won us over and ignited a real spark of passion for central Australia.
Our first stop was at a ranch famous for camel racing (no, we didn’t know that was a thing either). We soon got to know the other members of our tour group and quickly learnt that all dignity goes out of the window when mounting a camel.
Next we journeyed to Watarrka, also known as Kings Canyon. A lot of the natural attractions in Australia are in the process of having their traditional aboriginal names restored. Whilst this can be confusing for tourists, it is a really important way of repairing the relationship with traditional land owners.
The walls of Watarrka are over 100 metres high. To access the rim walk, you must first battle the steep ascent known as heart attack hill. It is ten minutes of torture as you climb the ever steeper steps to the top. However, the beauty that awaits those who make it to the top is breath taking. We set out on a 6 km walk around the rim of the canyon before descending into the Garden of Eden below. Our tour guide Sam did an excellent job of explaining the geology of the place and the traditional way of life in the area.
That evening, with Sam’s supervision, we all helped to cook an awesome thai curry before settling down for the night in our swags (large canvas sleeping bags used for sleeping outside). After an epic first day of our trip, we drifted off to sleep beside the camp fire and tried to put the thought of spiders, snakes and dingos as far from our minds as possible.
We would urge anyone who can to make the journey to the red centre, it was certainly one of the highlights of our trip. Our tour was Rock 2 Water with Groovy Grape, booked and arranged by Backpackers World Travel.