Things to do in The Northern Territory, Australia
I have always wanted to visit Ayres Rock (Uluru) and since I was in Brisbane living and work whilst on the working holiday visa. This was a perfect opportunity to visit the one of the many places I wanted to see when in Australia. So I booked a coach tour to take me around the Northern Territory over 5 days. It started at Alice Springs, and ended in Darwin, but covering Ayres Rock, Kings Canyon and then up to Darwin. The tour is split into two, covering Alice Springs and Ayres Rock, and then the second part up to Darwin.
I flew in from Brisbane Airport to Alice Springs Airport, and took a taxi to my place of stay. The place was a nice hostel in which I was due to stay with a few people in the room for the night before heading on the tour the following day. When I did arrive, I was the only one there. This gave me a chance to have a look around before anyone else arrived. It was lovely place I stayed, with some rock wallabies to feed, and a small bar.
I have heard about these bars in the outback, which are more dominated by men and very few women frequent these bars, so when I first entered, I seemed to be the only female in there. This was very intimidating, but as I had entered I thought I had better get one drink and then leave. I drank up quickly and left, however whilst there I did notice a pool table ( I love to play pool). I did end up going back to the bar, surprisingly enough with my roommate, and I ended up having a really lovely time and met some new people, and yes I played pool for the rest of the night.
Ayres Rock (Uluru)
So after a good night out, it was an early start to get our coach. It turns out it was a small group which we travelled with, only 6 of us to cover Ayres Rock and Alice Springs, and it was down to 4 from Alice Springs to Darwin. So we left our hostel, and headed to Ayres Rock. The journey is long with about 6 hour ride, with a stop on the way. The roads are long, and deserted, with very little cars on the road.
We finally arrived at Ayres Rock, and what a sight, what it looks like is a huge rock in the middle of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, yet the Aboriginals see this as a sacred sight. When you first see this rock, it is amazing, the red really hangs in the vision. The tour included staying at the rock throughout sunset, slept under the stars for the night, and then up early to see the sunrise. It gets even better, watching the sunset, on Ayres Rock, seeing the colours change from red, to a very dark red, to a brown colour. The shape of the rock also places shadows over the rock, and is an incredible sight to see, and one I miss. Now that the sun had set, and the dark upon us, it was time to settle down for food and then sleep for an early rise. It does get a little cold at night, but having a good sleeping bag and some warm cloths did the trick. It is also advisable to take a mosquito net and fasten it up tightly to a tree, as I certainly heard them in my ear all night even with a mosquito net up. It was beautiful seeing the stars at night and sleeping under them with no tent, it definitely an experience that I loved, and one I would recommend to everyone.
After a lovely and eventful night, it was time to wake up and see the sun rise at Ayres Rock. The colours on the rock are different in sun rise to the sun set, yet the red still emanates through, with the shadows still evident.
So before we left Ayres Rock, we had the chance to climb the rock. I personally choose not to, as I didn't want to disrespect the Aboriginals. As the Aboriginals see this as a sacred place, they do not like people climbing the rock, instead I choose to just take in the view of the rock.
It was time to leave, and the next stop was The Olga which is a formation of rocks found in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park about 1 hours drive from Ayres Rock. When you see these rocks, it really does seem weird how these rocks could possibly have been put here, but they have been formed over the year to how they stand today. It is definitely an awe-inspiring sight to see. After spending some time here, and getting some picture opportunities.
Between our stops of the Olga and The kings Canyon, the tour stopped at a shop which the tour guides had made friends with the owners. We have to opportunity to hold a baby kangaroo (Joey), as the Joey was orphaned, so they are currently bringing it up until it is ready to go back to the wild. Holding that Joey was an amazing chance and a one off, which was another highlight and a surprise on this trip.
They also had a adult snake, which I also had the opportunity to hold.
The Kings Canyon
So another long journey to the Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park which takes about 4 and half hours drive. This is a different kind of view, from seeing the amazing Ayres Rock and the stunning Olga, we now have the Kings Canyon. This you do need to walk for, but worth it in the end, when reaching the top the views of below are incredible. The walk takes us to some of the amazing places, with water holes, and the gorge below.
There was only 4 left on the trip up to Darwin once we had got back to Alice Springs, and it takes about 17 hours with a few stops along the way. When I reach Darwin, it was the end of an eventful tour. I spent 1 night in Darwin, and is one town which is completely different to any I have seen in Australia. I felt like I was in a western movie, with all the shops closed, and not too many people around. It was a strange feeling, and ended up returning back to my place of stay quite quickly. After an eventful trip, I returned back to Brisbane, and definitely one I will never forget. There are some museums in the surrounding areas of Darwin, which could be worth visiting.
I personally went with a reputable tour guide to take me from Alice Springs and up to Darwin stopping off at the sights along the way, I used them as it was so much easier and safer travelling with them. I had to fly into Alice Springs, however it is possible to drive if you have a car. There is an airport at Alice Springs and in Darwin. Taxi's are also possible in the towns, but as soon as you get out of the towns then it is very sparse and very limited modes of transport. Again you may find buses, and trains which take you to the major towns, but in the smaller more deserted locations, public transport will be limited. You also need to consider that you are in the outback, so public transport will be limited, as it can take many hours to travel between one town to the other if not longer, it is also a hot and desert like location, so need to ensure you are prepared for every eventuality.
Food and drink
There are many restaurants, and food outlets in the Northern Territory, yet these will be found in the towns. Once you get out of town and onto the roads, you may not find anything for miles and for hours, it is advised to take food and plenty of fluids with you. As I was on tour, most of the food was either provided at the hostel or cooked on a fire when in the outback and sleeping under the stars. If you dine at any restaurants or food outlets, it is reasonably priced depending on where you go. Being on tour may cost a bit more, but I thought it worth it, as I did not have to worry about where I was going to buy food and for how much, but it is dependable on your budget.
Places to stay
In the towns there are many hotels, or hostels to stay. The price will be dependent on your budget, and where you stay. Hostels will be cheaper, yet you can stay in luxury hotels which will be more pricy. I personally stayed in a hostel, this is because it was within my budget, but also I stayed in a dorm which gave me the chance to meet new people along the way. As I was on tour, the accommodation was included, and is perfect, as I didn't have to think about where I was going to stay as this was pre arranged . As soon as you get out of the towns, then accommodation does become sparse and if you do find somewhere it could be more expensive, so be prepared for all eventualities.
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