It’s an odd boast, but residents of Alice Springs like to tell visitors their town is the closest to every beach in the country. Yet the nearest shore lies 1,000 miles away! The view from the summit of Anzac Hill, the high point of ‘The Alice’, is reminiscent of an Arabian oasis surrounded by an arid, biscuity, infinite flatness.
It’s the bull’s eye of the country and the focal point of some of the most isolated communities in the world. There’s plenty to see in town, including the School of the Air and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. But it’s the bush, that timeless land of silence and intense light beyond the Alice fringe, that beckons.
Pick up a 4WD at the Alice Springs airport and spend two nights at Bond Springs Outback Station, a working cattle station spread over 1,500 square kilometres of arid zone land. An opportunity to experience a little of the life in the Australian Outback, learn about the history of Bond Springs’ early pioneering days and share the natural beauty of this unique place. The station is situated on the banks of a tree lined creek, a tributary of the normally dry Todd River nestled in the majestic MacDonnell ranges, seventeen kilometres north of Alice Springs.
Follow the Namatjira drive through the Western MacDonnell ranges, the 400km long rolling serpent of fire-red quartzite rocks, one of the oldest landscapes in the world and deeply rooted in Aboriginal ‘Dreamtime’. Every peak, gulley and gorge tells a story. The scenic, unsealed Mereenie Loop Road will take you to KingsCanyon, a 300m deep cleavage in the earth, and a night in a deluxe room at Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge.
ULURU (AYERS ROCK).
The next morning you can climb to the rim of the canyon for spectacular views before heading to Uluru for your next two nights at Desert Gardens hotel (or consider upgrading to Longitude 131). Spend the next day enjoying the Rock itself – set the alarm to see it bathed in sunrise – as well as the surrounding area, perhaps joining an Aboriginal guided walk (which we can arrange). In the afternoon, head to Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) for a walk through the Valley of the Winds, followed, if you like, with a ‘Sounds of Silence’ dinner in the desert.