Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Watarrka National Park and Alice Springs named the top attractions
“At the spiritual heart of Australia’s Red Centre is the country’s most recognised wonder, Uluru,” Lonely Planet said. “In 2019 this sacred site is finally closing to climbers, almost 150 years after explorers decided to conquer the rock.
“Instead, visitors will find that this World Heritage site, renowned for its outstanding natural and cultural values, conquers them.”
Uluru-Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock and the Olgas), Watarrka National Park and nearby Alice Springs were named the top attractions in the Red Centre. The Northern Territory’s newly opened Litchfield National Park, which is the “most visited park in Australia’s Top End” was also given special mention.
The news follows a recent Alice Stampede event organised by the Northern Territory Convention Bureau. The four day famil gave event planners from Australia and New Zealand the opportunity to learn about the industry, innovation and cultural strengths of Alice Springs, as well as viewing its business event infrastructure.
Claire Dodds-Eden, conference manager with Conference Logistics, spoke about the warm welcome, the connections and the story-telling.
“What really struck me about Alice Springs was the connection between people and place and how quickly you can feel at home, because the people are so welcoming and keen to share their story with you,” she said. “The desert can be a hard and difficult place to live in, so you’ve got to always be creative and think outside the box. And isn’t that what conferences are aiming to do?”
A bush balm preparation workshop staged at the iconic ‘Purple House’ renal dialysis centre provided an opportunity for participants to learn about the meaningful work undertaken by this award-winning facility in its Aboriginal health care, cultural and community connections and social enterprise projects.
When visiting Alice Springs landmark Simpson’s Gap, the group was introduced to local Indigenous caterer and bush food supplier, Kungkas Can Cook, with owner Rayleen Brown talking about how she creatively integrates wild harvest bush tucker into her cuisine.
The Alice Stampede program incorporated stunning off-site dinner locations, which included the Nocturnal House at Alice Springs Desert Park as well as an evening at ecotourism property, the Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre, where stargazing and a performance by children’s group Drum Atweme were also on the menu. The spectacular finale dinner was held at The Old Quarry, located approximately 15 minutes from the centre of town.
The action-packed itinerary included early morning hot-air ballooning, an Aboriginal art workshop, a mini Henley-on-Todd regatta at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, a cycling tour into the National Park, a ‘Living Desert’ experience at Alice Springs Desert Park and a visit to the renowned Royal Flying Doctor Service facility.
Five and half hours from Alice Springs is Uluru, which is main attraction for visitors heading to the Red Centre. But just down the road there is another rock formation that is taller, wider and, arguably, even more impressive than the famous monolith – Kata Tjuta, also known as The Olgas.
“Uluru as a destination has never been so hot and there has been a huge leap in visitation in recent years,” said Grant Hunt, CEO of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia. “Feedback that we are receiving from our guests is that although Kata Tjuta is not top of mind when planning a visit to the Red Centre, it is often a highlight once experienced, the destination’s undiscovered secret.”