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When travellers picture Australia’s Outback, it is usually images of the Northern Territory’s Red Centre that spring to mind. While planning a holiday in this vast expanse of the desert can seem a little daunting, countless self-drive and tour options make the icons of the Outback easily accessible to everybody. The Red Centre Way tourism drive links the spectacular icons of this region and is an excellent route for planning a journey. The route starts in Alice Springs, a bustling desert town that is full of characters and boasts plenty of attractions and adventures. Visitors can ride a camel to dinner, take a hot air balloon to breakfast or charter a helicopter to explore the landscape from the air. Moving into the West MacDonnell Ranges, the drive is one big highlight, beginning with the picturesque Simpson’s Gap and striking Standley Chasm. Travellers can swim at Ellery Creek Big Hole, an internationally signifi cant geological site, or take the three-kilometre Dolomite walk, which explores the area’s remarkable formations. Colourful ochre pits, 110 kilometres west of Alice, have been used for generations by the local Aboriginal people. The rock walls of the creek bed are an earthhued rainbow, and steeped in millennias of tradition. Ormiston Gorge boasts a large waterhole surrounded by towering red walls. There are plenty of bushwalking options, including the seven-kilometre Ormiston Pound Walk, and the 20-minute Ghost Gum Look-out. At the look-out to Mt Sonder visitors experience fi rst hand the mystic of the instantly recognisable Namatjira landscape, and Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) Conservation Reserve is a ‘must-see’ for lovers of all things astral – the massive crater was formed by a comet over 130 million years ago. Kings Canyon’s 300-metre sheer cliff faces and palm fringed swimming hole are best experienced through the Rim Walk. This three-hour journey passes hardy trees eking out an existence on the rock faces, and hidden surprises including The Lost City and the Garden of Eden. An adventurous side trip is the Boggy Hole four-wheel-drive track. Start at Hermannsburg and 80 kilometres later fi nish on the Ernest Giles Track. This route requires technical four-wheeldrive skills and takes at least 10 hours to complete. Travellers can self-drive or join one of the four-wheel drive tours. The track follows the bed of the Finke River through varied scenery of towering, red rock walls, muddy waterholes, old cattle yards and a salt pan. The grand fi nale is Ayers Rock/ Uluru, where you can watch the sunrise before completing the base walk, then drive to the Olgas/Kata Tjuta to complete the Valley of the Winds Walk that mean ders through the massive rock domes. Wild budgerigars are just one highlight of this expe rience. For more information on the Red Centre Way, click here. Discovering the Red Centre Larapinta Trail, Ormiston Gorge Kings Canyon w w w . S E L L I N G D O W N U N D E R . c o m J u l y 2 0 0 7

Travel Tips Alice Desert Festival, running from September 14-23, is a celebration of the Territory’s distinct, laid-back lifestyle. Top events include DESERTsong, which brings together indigenous choirs from remote communities in Central Australia to share their traditional stories in their own languages. This year they will be accompanied by the Darwin Symphony Orchestra. The DesertMOB exhibition, one of the most diverse collections of Aboriginal art, highlights 35 community-based Aboriginal art centres from across the desert regions of the NT, South Australia and Western Australia. A myriad of cultural infl uences from throughout the region come together in events such as the Wearable Arts performance and the Wild Foods Cooking Competition. Music plays a major role in the Festival and includes performances such as The Bush Bands Bash, Home Brew, and UTH Central. Alice Desert Festival TOURISM NORTHERN TERRITORY CONTACTS: CENTRAL EUROPE FRANCE/BELGIUM USA/CANADA UK/IRELAND/NORDIC COUNTRIES/NETHERLANDS ITALY/SPAIN ASIA Alice Springs is regarded by many as the capital of Abori ginal art – and a visit is not complete without a trip to one of the town’s many art galleries. Mostly located around the city centre, the galleries show a selection of works from high-end to pocketfriendly prices. From the Papunya Tula Artists who preserve the culture of the Western Desert and fl aunt their knowledge of traditional sand and body painting in their works, to the surprisingly bright colours of the paintings from Keringke Arts, an hour southeast of Alice Springs at Santa Teresa, the works vary in style An artful experience depending on the artist’s culture and history. Whether you are interested in more traditional works, or Indigenous art with a more developed, contemporary feel, you are sure to fi nd it in a tour of Alice Spring’s many excellent galleries. DesertMOB’s Desert Dance Aboriginal art J u l y 2 0 0 7 w w w . S E L L I N G D O W N U N D E R . c o m 11