The Red Centre

The Red Centre really is the literal centre of the vast continent of Australia and believe it or not it is red red earth, red mountains as in the MacDonnell Ranges, red rock formations such as the Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and Uluru (Ayres rock), red flowers, the Sturts Desert Pea being one of the predominant ones. Only after having visited the area do you realise how many different facets the colour red can have. The light in this part of the world is so clear, devoid of most pollution, that the suns rays cause the colour of the landscape to change in front of your very eyes.

The vast desert landscapes of Australia's red heart are punctuated by a range of unique natural wonders. From the massive ochre domes of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and the magnificent East and West MacDonnell Ranges to the great salt plains of Lake Amadeus; from the charm of Alice Springs to the majesty of Kings Canyon and the spiritual pinnacle of Australia Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Red Centre is a remarkable part of the country. It is very much the heart of Australia that typifies the image of Outback Australia.

The Red Centre covers the Central Desert and Macdonnell Shires (see map right).

How To get There

By road: the main highway from north to south (Stuart Highway) is sealed bitumen all the way from Port Augusta to Darwin, but other roads in the region vary from sealed bitumen to sandy bush tracks that require a 4WD vehicle.

The Red Centre may also be approached by road from Mt Isa in far west Queensland via the Barkly Highway.

By rail: Alice Springs is linked to Darwin, Adelaide and the rest of Australias capital cities via The Ghan. Alice Springs to Darwin is a 24-hour journey; Alice Springs to Adelaide is a 24-hour journey. Two services per week operate in each direction from May to November. Outside of these months, there is one service per week in each direction.

By air: Daily flights operate from all Australian capital cities to Alice Springs. The town is a good base to tour the other famous attractions of Central Australia and most visitors to Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and Kings Canyon go via Alice Springs airport.

Best Time To Go

Autumn (March to May) is possibly the best time of year with warm days and cool nights and not much variation. In Summer (Dec-Feb), daytime maximums are generally in the high 30s but never above 45∞C, but dry air and cool nights help to make these temperatures very tolerable.

In winter (June-Aug), night time temperatures can fall below zero degrees Celsius and sometimes thick frost in the morning can look like a carpet of snow. These mornings are usually followed by very pleasant afternoon temperatures in the low twenties. Spring (Sept-Nov) is the most exiting season of the year with big changes in temperature from day to day, thunderstorms, hail and dust storms. It is also the wildflower season, usually peaking in September and early October.

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