Experience 10 wonderful days in the Heart of Central Australia – the spectacular Red Centre. Highlights include some of our most famous natural landmarks – Uluru, Kata Tjuta and King’s Canyon as well as Alice Springs and it’s fabulous surrounds. Learn about the culture and spirituality of the traditional owners of our land by participating in ceremonies, art classes and cultural talks. Spend half a day in nature with a Ngangkere (aboriginal healer), learn about the dreamtime and visit some wonderful sacred sites.
This heart-touching tour will reignite your sense of wonder!
Arrive at Ayers Rock airport and transfer to our hotel in Yulara. Visit the town square and drive to the Rock for sunset viewing.
Uluru/Ayers Rock is a massive sandstone monolith thought to have started forming around 550 million years ago. It stands 348 m (1,142 ft) high, with most of its bulk lying underground, and has a total circumference of 9.4 km. Uluru is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara Anangu, the Aboriginal people of the area and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Witnessing the ancient monolith at sunrise and sunset is a sight that will never be forgotten.
An early drive to Katatjuta (the Olgas), with a sunrise view on the way, provides a remarkable start to the day. Along with Uluru, nearby Kata Tjuta has great cultural significance for the traditional inhabitants of the area. Undertake a walking tour through this amazing 36 red-rock dome formation where you will learn about the local flora and fauna, bush food and the Aboriginal dreamtime stories of the area.
In the evening, see the amazing art installation ‘Field of lights’.
This morning we have a guided walk around the base of the rock, where we will hear about traditional Anangu culture and rock art. According to the Anangu, traditional landowners of Uluru:
The world was once a featureless place. None of the places we know existed until creator beings, in the forms of people, plants and animals, traveled widely across the land. Then, in a process of creation and destruction, they formed the landscape as we know it today. Anangu land is still inhabited by the spirits of dozens of these ancestral creator beings.
After lunch, drive to Kings Canyon, arriving for the sunset.
After an early breakfast, we commence our wonderful walk around the upper rim of the Canyon taking in the garden of Eden and other wonderful sights.
In the afternoon we visit Lilla Aboriginal community with sacred sites and an explanation and demonstration of dot paintings.
This morning we have a gentle 2 kilometre hike between the two soaring canyon walls. As you arrive at the lookout point, you will be welcomed by spectacular views of the sheer cliff face at the far end of the canyon.
In the late morning, we drive to Alice Springs.
Situated roughly in Australia’s geographic centre, ‘Alice’ is the third largest town in the Northern Territory. The area is known as ‘Mparntwe’ to its original inhabitants, the Arrernte, who have lived in the Central Australian desert in and around what is now Alice Springs for thousands of years. Evidence suggests Indigenous occupation of the region dates back at least 30,000 years. Arrernte country is rich with mountain ranges, waterholes and gorges, which create a variety of natural habitats. According to the Arrernte traditional stories, in the desert surrounding Alice Springs, the landscape was shaped by caterpillars, wild dogs, travelling boys, two sisters, euros and other ancestral figures.
Today we have a ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony with Aboriginal elder women from the Akeyulerre Healing Centre. While there, we also learn about traditional plant medicines and their healing properties. We may even be able to help with making some medicines.
Akeyulerre assists aboriginal people to both access and practice their culture and be proud of their cultural knowledge and identity. Cultural practices supported by the centre include the collection, preparation and distribution of bush medicine plants, access and support to Ngangkeres (Traditional Healers), country visits, song, dance, smoking ceremonies and bush foods. The service works with the Aboriginal philosophy that well being is a holistic phenomena, which includes social, emotional, and cultural health as well as physical.
Australian Aborigines have drawn on the resources of the environment for medicines for tens of thousands of years. Many plants have been used, generally without elaborate preparation. Plant material is very often bruised or pounded to use as a poultice, or extracted with water to be taken internally. The Australian flora is particularly rich in aromatic plants such as eucalyptus, tea-trees, boronias and mints which have always been considered especially suitable for treating respiratory diseases. Aboriginals have used a large number of them for treating illnesses.
After lunch, we visit the Desert Park to see wonderful displays of native bush/desert gardens and amazing birdlife. There is also a fantastic live bird show.
The Alice Springs Desert Park presents and interprets the Australian desert environment and its inhabitants, and contributes to the conservation of Australia’s desert flora and fauna. It includes parts of the Wild Dog and Caterpillar dreaming stories that are part of the culture of local Arrernte people.
Another special day in Alice begins with a ½ day trip with a Ngangkere (traditional Aboriginal healer) to a lovely nature spot for meditation and healing. We will also hear about spirituality and the dreamtime and experience a traditional smoking ceremony.
After lunch in the Olive Pink Botanical Gardens, we visit The Residency and mall.
Later in the day we have a guided sunset tour of the Kangaroo Sanctuary where orphaned joeys are rescued and rehabilitated (and released back into the wild where possible). Those that can’t be released into the wild are set free into the native habitat of the 188-acre Sanctuary.You will be able to cuddle some of the residents and bottle-feed them!
This wonderful inspirational place was first established as a baby kangaroo rescue centre in Alice Springs in 2005. Brolga then went on to build his own wildlife sanctuary from 2009 to 2011 and has since built Central Australia’s first wildlife hospital.
Education is a priority of the sanctuary, providing knowledge to other wildlife carers, the general public, school groups and visitors.
Today we drive west to the stunning MacDonnell Ranges visiting some of the wonderful sights – Gosses Bluff Crater, Ellery Creek Big Hole, the ochre pits and Standley Chasm. We will have lunch at Glen Helen and visit Kathleen Buzzacott Jewellery & Art Studio on the way back.
After breakfast we learn about aboriginal culture and art symbols from a wonderful aboriginal artist/teacher at the Yubu Napa Art gallery. In this session, we will ‘have a go’ at producing our own masterpiece and at the end of the session, our names will go in a draw to win the artist’s painting!
Yubu napa is a Bulgul phrase with a double meaning – ‘beautiful’ and ‘to do the right thing’. The gallery encourages artists to try new painting styles and to tell their stories in different ways, which has allowed their studio to showcase some of the most original aboriginal artworks available.
In the afternoon we visit some of the wonderful Aboriginal social enterprises such as Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Waltija Tjutangku Palyapayi Aboriginal Corporation and Tangentyere Aboriginal Art Centre. We will have the opportunity to learn about the organization and to buy some of the fabulous crafts.
Drive to the airport for departure flights.
Your 10-day experience includes all air-conditioned land travel, all accommodation, some meals, all tours, activities and classes, local guides and airport transfers.
Price $3890 per person twin share
(single supplement $920)
5th to 14th September 2018
2nd to 11th May 2019
The itinerary may be subject to change depending on altered circumstances