My Life Abroad: The Adventures of Two Birds
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Aug '11

Road Trip to Ayers Rock (Uluru), in Central Australia

A quick update: We finally have our itinerary

Check back here for pictures and video during our adventure through the Outback. I’m really looking forward to this trip and seeing the sights of the red dessert.  I’ve never been to the Outback so this is very exciting.  And we can have our fur babies with us to enjoy being out on the land.  I’m hoping to do some combination camping and staying in hotels that can accommodate the dogs. 

Central Australia Trip

Day 1
Depart CBD 5pm
Drive to Horsham (298km)

Day 2
Depart Horsham at 7am
Drive to Clare SA (543km)
Visit local wineries

Day 3
Depart Clare at 9am
Drive to Coober Pedy SA (734km)

Day 4
Day in Coober Pedy

Day 5
Depart Coober Pedy at 8am
Drive to Yulara NT (735km)

Day 6
Day at Yulara, Ayers Rock, The Olgas, Mt Conner

Day 7
Depart Yulara at 7am
Drive to Alice Springs via King Canyon (631km)
Visit Kings Canyon

Day 8
Day at Alice Springs
Drive to Devils Marbles (100km)
Drive to Tennant Creek (80km)
Drive back to Alice Springs (180km)

Day 9
Depart Alice Springs 8am
Drive to Coober Pedy SA (688km)

Day 10
Depart Coober Pedy at 8am
Drive to Gawler SA (846km)

Day 11
Depart Gawler 9am
Visit Barossa Valley wineries
Drive Home (805km)

Well, we’ve been talking about this for a while and now we’ve decided to pack up the dogs, get a house sitter and head out on the road for our first ever “road trip”.  We’re going to spend 10-days on the road and see some of Central Australia’s beautiful country side in a trip to see the wine country of South Australia, then up to the underground town, and opal mines of Coober Pedy, and last but not least up to Uluru also world with the majority of gem quality opal.

South Australia Wine Country (Wine Tasting) – Barrossa Valley

The Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions. Located in South Australia, the Barossa Valley is about 56km (35 miles) northeast of the city of Adelaide. Unlike most of Australia whose wine industry was heavily influenced by the British, the wine industry of the Barossa Valley was founded by German settlers fleeing persecution from the Prussian province of Silesia (in what is now modern day Poland).

The hot continental climate of the region promoted the production of very ripe grapes that was the linchpin of the early Australian fortified wine industry. As the modern Australian wine industry shifted towards red table wines (particularly those made by the prestigious Cabernet Sauvignon) in the mid-20th century, the Barossa Valley fell out of favor due to its reputation for being largely a Shiraz producers whose grapes were destined for blending. During this period the name “Barossa Valley” rarely appeared on wine labels. In the 1980s, the emergence of several boutique family specializing in old vine Shiraz wines began to capture international attention for the distinctive style of Barossa Shiraz, a full bodied red wine with rich chocolate and spice notes. This led to a renaissance in the Barossa which catapulted the region to the forefront of the Australian wine industry.

Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy today relies as much on tourism as the opal mining industry to provide the community with employment and sustainability. Coober Pedy has evolved in to one of the most unique places in Australia and perhaps the world. It is a cosmopolitan town with a population of 3,500 and over 45 different nationalities.

The relaxed and friendly lifestyle of the town has made it a breeding ground for cultural tolerance, diversity and acceptance. Coober Pedy is probably best known for its unique style of underground living.

There is a range of underground accommodation (as well as above ground if you prefer). There are authentic underground homes to explore as well as underground museums, opal shops, art galleries, underground churches and, of course, opal mines.

Ayres Rock (Uluru)

Uluru ( /u:lu:’ru:/), also known as Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia. It lies 335 km (208 mi) south west of the nearest large town, Alice Springs; 450 km (280 mi) by road. Kata Tjuta and Uluru are the two major features of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Uluru is sacred to the Ajangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. The area around the formation is home to a plethora of springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings. Uluru is listed as a World Heritage Site.

Uluru is one of Australia’s most recognisable natural landmarks. The sandstone formation stands 348 m (1,142 ft) high (rising 863 m/2,831 ft above sea level), with most of its bulk lying underground, and has a total circumference of 9.4 km (5.8 mi). Both Uluru and the nearby Kata Tjuta formation have great cultural significance for the Aṉangu people, the traditional inhabitants of the area, who lead walking tours to inform visitors about the local flora and fauna, bush foods and the Aboriginal dreamtime stories of the area.

Kata Tjuta National Park (Olgas)

Kata Tjuta, sometimes written Tjuta (Kata Joota), and also known as Mount Olga (or colloquially as The Olgas), are a group of large domed rock formations or bornhardts located about 365 km (227 mi) southwest of Alice Springs, in the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia. Uluru, 25 km (16 mi) to the east, and Kata Tjuta form the two major landmarks within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The 36 domes, covering an area of 21.68 km2 (8.37 sq mi), are composed of conglomerate, a sedimentary rock consisting of cobbles and boulders of varying rock types including granite and basalt, cemented by a matrix of sandstone. The highest point, Mount Olga, is 1,066 m (3,497 ft) above sea level, or approximately 546 m (1,791 ft) above the surrounding plain (198 m (650 ft) higher than Uluru). Kata Tjuta is located at the eastern end of the Docker River Road.

Alice Springs

Alice Springs is the second largest town (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a city) in the Northern Territory of Australia. Popularly known as “the Alice” or simply “Alice”, Alice Springs is situated in the geographic centre of Australia near the southern border of the Northern Territory.

The site 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. Alice Springs has a population of 27,481 people, which makes up 12 percent of the territory’s population Alice averages 576 meters (1,890 ft) above sea level; the town is nearly equidistant from Adelaide and Darwin.

The town of Alice Springs straddles the usually dry Todd River on the northern side of the MacDonnell Ranges. The region where Alice Springs is located is known as Central Australia, or the Red Centre, and is an arid environment consisting of several different deserts. In Alice Springs, temperatures can vary dramatically with an average maximum temperature in summer of 35.6 °C (96.1 °F), and an average minimum temperature in winter of 5.1 °C (41.2 °F).

Kings Canyon, Northern Territory

The walls of Kings Canyon are over 300 metres high, with Kings Creek at the bottom. Part of the gorge is a sacred Aboriginal site and visitors are discouraged from walking off the walking tracks.

Two walks exists at Kings Canyon. The 2 km (return) and approximately 1 hour Kings Creek Walk traces the bottom of the gorge. At the end of the walk is a platform, with views of the canyon walls above. The 6 km (loop) and 3-4 hour Kings Canyon Rim Walk traces the top of the canyon. A steep climb at the beginning of the walk, which locals call “Heartbreak Hill” (or “Heart Attack Hill”, due to its steepness), takes visitors up to the top, with spectacular views of the gorge below and of the surrounding landscape. About half way during the walk, a detour descends to Garden of Eden, a permanent waterhole surrounded by lush plant life. The last half of the walk passes through a large maze of weathered sandstone domes, reminiscent of the Bungle Bungle. A slow descent brings the visitor back to the starting point. The loop can also be done in reverse (anti-clockwise), but the National Park Rangers encourage visitors to walk in one direction.

So, I’m already ready to go!  Stay tuned and follow along on our trip as we make our way across Central Australia.

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