Uluru, NT

The Red Centre Road Trip (Part 1)

I had the pleasure of visiting the awe-inspiring Red Centre a few years back in 2015. However, it’s been far too long since I last ventured to this iconic region of Australia, and I feel a strong pull to return. The Northern Territory is a truly remarkable place, with its stunning sunsets and sunrises that present a vivid tapestry of colors that are simply breathtaking and must be captured.

On this upcoming trip, I plan to explore the must-visit destinations of the Northern Territory, such as Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), and Kings Canyon. Each of these natural wonders is unique in its beauty and holds a significant cultural and spiritual significance to the Indigenous peoples of the area.

Photographed using

Distance: 6450kms

Start: 08/04/2023

Finish: 21/04/2023

During a three-day journey to the Red Centre, I visited the opal mining town of Coober Pedy, located in South Australia. During my stay, I was lucky enough to call the Tom Cat Hill Campground my home. This unique accommodation option features two fully renovated, self-contained buses that have been perched atop a beautifully carved escarpment.

In addition to the two buses, the campground offers ten spacious and elevated caravan sites, which is where I stayed. Unlike other crowded and cramped camping spots, these sites allow guests to choose their view and enjoy a home-away-from-home experience. Picture drinks at sunset, dinner under the stars, and breakfast with a breathtaking sunrise.

The Tom Cat Hill Campground truly is a unique gem in the South Australian outback, and I feel privileged to have experienced it firsthand. The quirky accommodation options and stunning views make for an unforgettable stay, and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a one-of-a-kind camping experience.

Following my departure from Coober Pedy, I embarked on a journey to Palm Valley in the Northern Territory. Along the way, I decided to stay at the Desert Oaks Rest Area, with high hopes of experiencing a spectacular outback sunset. However, to my disappointment, the sunset did not live up to my expectations. Nevertheless, the following morning, I was greeted by a magnificent sunrise that more than made up for the underwhelming sunset the night before.

Upon departing from the Desert Oaks Rest Area, I traveled through Alice Springs, and took the opportunity to visit Simpsons Gap before making my way to Palm Valley. Situated within the Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park, Simpsons Gap is located just a short 20-minute drive from Alice Springs. It proved to be a worthwhile stop, allowing me to take in the breathtaking natural beauty of this stunning area before continuing on my journey towards Palm Valley.

As I made my way towards the Palm Valley Campground, the dirt road leading up to it presented me with quite an adventure. Spanning 22 kilometers, the road featured a diverse range of terrains, including sandy stretches, dusty trails, and even river bed crossings. Navigating this varied terrain was quite an experience and added an extra layer of excitement to my journey towards the campground.

Located in the Krichauff Range, 123 kilometers (or 138 kilometers by road) southwest of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia, Palm Valley is an east-west running valley situated within the Finke Gorge National Park. This unique region is home to a remarkable botanical wonder: the Red Cabbage Palms (Livistona mariae), which can only be found in this area of Central Australia. The nearest related species of this palm is located a staggering 850 kilometers away in Katherine, Northern Territory.

Despite its arid surroundings, the area surrounding Palm Valley is able to support this thriving population of palms thanks to a reliable water source. The surrounding region primarily consists of dry Central Ranges xeric scrub, making the oasis of Palm Valley all the more remarkable.

At the Palm Valley Campground, one can observe a plethora of bird species, with the Major Mitchell Cockatoo and Australian Ringneck Parrot being the prominent inhabitants. (Along with the many Crowes, Willy Wagtails, and Australian Magpie-Lark) These beautiful birds make their presence known with their loud and distinct screeches, adding to the unique atmosphere of the area. They are however difficult to capture as they sit mostly high up in the trees, requiring long focal lengths to capture them.

Given how long a road trip this was, with so much to see, I have broken it into two, see Part 2 here.

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