the red centre: valley of the winds

This past weekend I took a trip up to the Northern Territory, to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, “the red centre” of Australia.

I left rainy Brisbane and arrived in the NT a short 3 hours later, where there was surprisingly…more rain…..? Apparently only 1% of visitors get to experience rain in Uluru , so i am pretty darned lucky!

Stepping off the plane onto the red dirt, the smell hit me. Petrichor- the smell of earth after rain. It was divine.

As a solo female travelling to the Outback for the first time, i had done a bit of research to prepare, but this was a bare bones adventure. No checked bags, no fancy sweaters- just me, some sunscreen, and a bar of soap.

I knew that I had time to kill before checking into my accommodation in the afternoon, so decided to go for a hike on the longest trail in the park, Valley of the Winds. This is a 7km loop of the Kata Tjuta domes. The trail has a lot of loose rock and gravel, but is absolutely gorgeous and ended up being my favourite hike of the weekend. All up, it took me exactly 3 hours (including hydration and photo stops).

From the airport, its a super simple drive into the park (~15 minutes), and then to the Domes(~30 more mins). A 3 day park pass costs 25 AUD and can be easily purchased at the entrance. Once you’re in the park, there is pretty much only one road which is well-signed, and as long as you’re driving toward the right set of rocks, you’re headed in the right direction!

By the time i got to the trailhead, the sun was hot, so I filled up with 2L of water from the drinking tap and hit the trail!

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The textures, colours, sounds and smells along this trail are absolutely magical. Captivating birdsongs, lightning-fast lizards and buzzing flies- and just about every shade of red imaginable!

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Important to note is that the second part of the trail closes after 11am on days with anticipated high temperature, but this is well signed to walkers. That being said, it’s wise to do outdoor activities in the early morning if possible. I ended up getting a pretty nasty case of heat stroke following this hike, despite my best efforts to keep hydrated!

I got the impression that this trail is a little less popular than some of the tracks around Uluru, probably because its a bit further from the park entrance and main town, and because its a bit longer than other walks offered in the park. That being said, i thoroughly enjoyed it, and highly recommend it for a morning walk in the red centre!

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