GMT +9½ hours
Uluru & Northern Territory holidays
Awesome and remote Outback landscape
Untamed and beautiful, Australia's Northern Territory is truly a holiday destination with a difference. This vast state - equivalent in area to France, Spain and Italy combined - is a wonderland of dramatic landscapes with natural treasures from lost valleys to meteorite craters, and hot springs to thunderous waterfalls.
- Uluru will be a once in a life time destination and a must-see on your dream Australia holiday - if you have the time, it's definitely worth the detour to the centre
- An early start is justified for a sunrise view of Uluru. For a sunset view, try the Sounds of Silence dinner - local food and wine against a backdrop of Uluru and Kata Tjuta
- After Uluru there's a whole lot more to the red centre, from the Kata Tjuta National Park to the slightly lesser-known King's Canyon with it's stunning scenery
- Learn the enchanting creation stories around the Aboriginal Dreamtime and see rock paintings of Dreamtime legends
- At the right time of year, the gorge at Katherine and waterfalls at Kakadu are spectacular
Best time to visit
In the tropical north the dry season runs from May to October with an average daily temperature of 30°C. November to April is the wet season. The humidity rises sharply and there are often heavy tropical rains at this time. The central region is semi-arid and experiences four seasons; it does not generally experience the tropical rains from the north but as a desert environment can get pretty cold during winter.
Most visitors travel to the Northern Territory for a glimpse of the iconic Red Centre in the southern desert region; the true, mythical Outback Australia - red dust, empty tracks, unique wildlife and big characters. Situated in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Uluru (Ayers Rock) is one of the world’s most recognised natural icons - a giant sandstone formation rising boldly out of its seemingly stark landscape. The lesser-known Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) is equally impressive. Translating as 'many heads', these colossal rock domes hold secrets of fascinating local indigenous history.
Remote Alice Springs is Australia’s most famous Outback town as well as home to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and rich in local heritage. Watarrka National Park is where you will find the mighty Kings Canyon, and with 300m high walls, sandstone formations, a 'Lost City' and a forested waterhole deep in a gorge, it really is an otherworldly landscape.
This immense territory also encompasses the verdant, tropical north, home to the awesome Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, the spectacular Katherine Gorge, and Darwin - a cosmopolitan city with a rich Aboriginal culture.
Top Uluru experiences
• Sunrise and sunset at Uluru are unmissable - watch the rock surface change colour from a flaming red to a deep brown, and every hue in between
• Hike through Kata Tjuta to the wonderful 'Valley of the Winds' lookout (approx. three hour circuit)
• Visit the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre for an enthralling introduction to Anangu culture.
Regional Northern Territory highlights
• World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, an ancient wilderness of monsoon rainforest, lush mangroves, and pristine billabongs, where indigenous birds and animals thrive
• Arnhem Land escarpment, home to Aboriginal tribes for 40,000 years, and a great place to learn more about their history and culture
• Nitmiluk National Park, or Katherine Gorge, rich in Aboriginal rock art
• Visit the friendly city of Darwin, populated with larger-than-life, colourful characters
• Drift soundlessly over the MacDonnell Ranges and Alice Springs as the sun rises on a magical hot-air balloon ride
• Stand at the rim of Kings Canyon with its sheer drop and feel like you are on the edge of the world.
Australia Tailor Made
Don’t forget that with Kuoni you can create your own dream Australia holiday by customising your trip, choosing different combinations of nights, hotels and resorts.
It is worth sacrificing a lie-in to watch the sun rise up from behind Uluru. The reflection of the sun against the rock at this time of the morning produces the most vibrant colours imaginable.
I made a 2-hour journey after this to Kings Canyon where I completed the 100m climb to watch the sun set over the green valley below. Photographs can’t do these images justice and to see it with your own eyes is astonishing.