Red Centre

Central Australia, known as the Red Centre, occupies the lower half of the Northern Territory, including Alice Springs, Yulara, Andado, Finke, Tennant Creek, Tanami and the Plenty and Sandover Highways.
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Page Updated: 21 Apr 2016

Go to top Description


Any trip to the Red Centre begins and ends at Alice Springs, the centre of Australia. Supporting an area of many thousands of kilometres, Alice Springs supports regions far beyond the reach of the immediate population.

People come to the Red Centre for their first time to see our nation's icon - Ayers Rock (Uluru). Those who come again will have realised on their first visit that the region is enormous, the distances gigantic and best explored given time and self-sufficiency.

Four wheel driving has become the nation's favourite recreation, although it is not limited to locals. With a country as harsh and large as this you can always find a place to hire a 4WD that is well equipped and suited to the Australian outback conditions to get you there. For those that prefer a bit of guidance there are countless companies that offer safaris, tag-alongs and even 4WD bus tours to enable you to see as much of the highlights in one visit.

You can't come to the Red Centre without seeing a few major features: Ayers Rock and the Olgas, in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, some 500kms south-west of Alice Springs, at least some of the West MacDonnell Ranges (Simpson's Gap - Ormiston Gorge is all bitumen), Kings Canyon and Arltunga Historic Reserve.

If you've got a bit more time, have a 4WD and are self-sufficient don't miss Rainbow Valley, Chambers Pillar, Boggy Hole in the Finke Gorge and the magnificent gorges and quiet spaces of the East MacDonnell Ranges. You can also put your feet on the planimetric centre of Australia at the Lambert Centre just out of the Finke township.

The most important thing to remember about a trip to the Red Centre is to give yourself enough time to really soak up the atmosphere. It's a special place where the colours, the sounds and the textures really need to be savoured. The region offers some of the most varied walking trails within Australia, especially throughout the West MacDonnell Ranges. Vehicles are for travelling the great distances between attractions but once you've arrived a true appreciation of this timeless land is to put some leg work into it.

The Red Centre is one of the most photographed regions in the country and if you've always wanted to try your hand at this rewarding activity this might be the ideal place to start with rich warm colours, enchanting sunsets and never-ending clear skies.

Some excellent treks can be planned around Alice Springs in almost every direction if you have a 4WD vehicle. The McDonald Ranges, Finke Gorge, Palm Valley, New Crown, Old Andado, Dalhousie Springs, Mt Dare, are all excellent 4WD locations within reach of Alice Springs.

To head west into the Region , the Anne Beadell, Gunbarrel Highway, or the alternative Great Central Road, are the best options for 4WDs. And the quickest route into the Kimberley is via the Tanami, whilst the Plenty Highway or Simpson Desert is the way to go east into Queensland. To head south, 4WDs will enjoy the Oodnadatta Track.

For 2WD vehicles the Stuart Highway provides the best access north to either Darwin in the , or towards in the south. The Barkley Highway is the main bitumen route for heading east into Queensland. 2WDs can go west towards Perth along the Great Central Road, but not the Gunbarrel Highway, which is strictly 4WD.

April - October is the ideal time to visit the Red Centre, while temperatures are less extreme. Mid summer can be oppressively hot and December - March is the wet season. Winter can be very cold at night, dropping to below 0°C, although day temperatures will still be in the low twenties.

Go to top Treks

Barkly HighwayBarkly Highway
The Barkly Highway is a sealed road in Queensland and the Northern Territory. It goes from Three Ways Roadhouse in the Northern Territory to near Cloncurry in Queensland.
Boggy HoleBoggy Hole
Finke Gorge is located within the Finke Gorge NP south of the West MacDonnell Ranges in the Alice Springs region. The most popular attraction is Boggy Hole, a permanent billabong of the Finke River. This is a good 4WD route to Uluru and/or Kings Canyon.
Chambers PillarChambers Pillar
Chambers Pillar is a natural sandstone formation used by our famous early explorers as a navigational point. You can still read their signatures and inscriptions carved into the rock. It is also a beautiful photographic subject in a remote 4WD area.
Finke to Uluru via Old GunbarrelFinke to Uluru via Old Gunbarrel
An alternative route to access the wonderful Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park, this trip from Finke east of the Stuart Highway takes in the Lambert Centre - the planimetric gravitational centre of Australia, and a short section of the Old Gunbarrel Highway before intersecting the main route of the Lasseter Highway near Curtain Springs.
Hay RiverHay River
Suitable only to 4WDers with a strong sense of adventure and experience in remote desert travel. This track is largely unmarked and good map-reading skills are essential.
Mereenie LoopMereenie Loop
Linking the West MacDonnell Ranges and the World renowned resorts of Kings Canyon and Yulara, the Mereenie Loop Road gives visitors to the Red Centre a chance to see some spectacular scenery, without the need for backtracking to the Stuart Highway. This route is more appealing than the much longer sealed detour and is as Australian as it gets,
Old Andado TrackOld Andado Track
The Old Andado Track traverses fascinating terrain that includes mountain ranges, rocky gibber plains, desert sand dunes and floodplains in the Red Centre just south of Alice Springs.
Outback WayOutback Way
Linking Laverton in WA to Winton in QLD, the Outback Way was coined to promote the development of a 'third strategic link' across Australia, and is fast becoming one of the most iconic outback tourism and adventure drives in the country.
Owen Springs ReserveOwen Springs Reserve
An easy short trek out of Alice Springs with good bush camping and a historic value of early European explorers to Central Australia.
Plenty HighwayPlenty Highway
Part of the "Outback Way", the Plenty Highway is the most direct route from central Queensland across to Alice Springs in central Australia. It is a wide stretch of very red sandy soil that when wet can be impassible - 4WD only.[Feature Story]
Rainbow ValleyRainbow Valley
Colouful rock formations are striking anytime of day with just a 10 min walk across claypans from the campsite
Simpson Desert via Geosurveys HillSimpson Desert via Geosurveys Hill
From the stone workings of our ancient aboriginal past to the routes undertaken for the old oil exploration surveys, this very remote one-way trek starting at Mount Dare to Birdsville is for experienced desert travellers ONLY.
The Tanami TrackThe Tanami Track
The Tanami Track is essentially a great short-cut linking the Red Centre to the Kimberley. Although once a notorious 4WD track, it is now a graded dirt highway.
West MacDonnell RangesWest MacDonnell Ranges
The West MacDonnell Ranges in the heart of Australia's red centre stretch for 400km from east-west as a series of parallel ranges. Within the ranges are magnificent gaps and gorges, dramatic scenery, great bush camping and walks.

Go to top Red Centre Weather & Climate

Closest Weather Station

Alice Springs Airport at 26/09:00am CST
Distance from Alice Springs 10.82km S
TemperatureFeels LikeRel. HumidityDew PointPressureRainfallWind DirectionWind SpeedGusts
18.5°C14.1°C41%5.0°C1015.0hPa0.0mmE17km/hr
9knots
19km/hr
10knots

Closest Climatic Station

Alice Springs Airport
Distance from Alice Springs 10.82km S
 JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C36.435.132.628.223.019.819.722.627.230.933.635.4
Mean Min. °C21.520.717.512.68.25.04.06.010.314.817.920.2
Mean Rain mm38.643.832.316.318.913.615.09.28.521.429.136.9

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