Delve Deep into Kings Canyon

Kings Canyon might not be as famous as Uluru or Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), but it is no less impressive. Carved out of the land over millions of years, this geological marvel stretches for miles with a diverse and stunning landscape, from forests to baked red earth, and with half the crowds of its better known neighbours, you could well have the place all to yourself!

The canyon is ancient, around 440 million years old, and was created by Kings Creek River which slowly eroded away the soft, red sandstone that is typical to the Northern Territory. Today the walls of the canyon reach over 100 meters high up to a plateau of striped limestone domes known as the Lost City. Plants and animals thrive here, and flocks of Zebra Finches and White-Plumed Honeyeaters can be seen, as well as Ringtail Dragons and the famous Thorny Devil! The Garden of Eden is another stunning aspect of the canyon; a permanent water hole popular with swimmers, and surrounded by lush plants and ferns, some of which are over 400 years old.

There are a few trails which cross the area, but by far the best is Kings Canyon’s Rim Walk, winding through the diverse areas of the gorge taking in spectacular views of the surrounding area. This 6km hike has a tough start with 1000 steps leading up to the top of the canyon, and is known as Heartbreak Hill for good reason! But once you’re at the peak the views are stunning and you’ll be glad you made the effort. The trail continues through the Lost City and down to the Garden of Eden where a refreshing dip can be had. The walk can take as long as you want it to, with the average time around 3-4 hours. Keep your eyes peeled for cute critters and fossils, absorb the history and feel like an outback pioneer. All of this, and without the crowds, Kings Canyon should be on every traveller’s bucket list.

Has this given you the urge to explore!? Join us on our 3 day Rock Trip to Uluru and immerse in the flora and fauna Kings Canyon has to offer.

The Healing Power of the Mataranka Hot Springs

Ever felt like all the muscles in your body are crying out for help? Have you trekked up and down canyons, through waterfalls and camped out on the hard ground for nights on end? If you’re a traveller with a taste for adventure the answer is probably yes, and you can get some much deserved rest and recovery at this paradise oasis in the heart of the Northern Territory.

The crystal clear warm waters of this natural pool are famous for their healing powers, able to soothe all aches and pains away in seconds. The pools are fed by pure spring water from the nearby Daly and Georgina basins, and bubble at a balmy 34 degrees throughout the year. The surrounding forest of paperbark and palms provide a shady and lush backdrop, helping to block out the harsh sun rays. The thermal waters are a mini paradise in the desert and yet another hidden gem of the Northern Territory. You won’t need your hiking boots for this one.

Hit the Mataranka Hot Springs on our Darwin to Alice Springs Express, or extend your adventures with our 5 day, 4 night Darwin to Alice Springs Ultimate Tour Package and catch the delights of the Red Centre too! Reverse tours also available.

The Devils Marbles - a symbol of Australia's Red Centre

One of the most instantly recognisable features of the outback, the Devil's Marbles (Karlu Karlu) are a symbol of the weird and wild nature of Australia's Red Centre.  Formed over millions of years by nothing more than wind and rain, these gigantic granite boulders are up there with Uluru and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta) as one of the top adventure destinations in the Northern Territory. Spread over a wide valley, they rise out of the flat landscape in spectacular fashion. The biggest measure is over six meters across, with many stacked precariously on top of each other, seeming to defy the laws of gravity. Others have been split down the middle exposing the glinting granite in their centre. As with much of the landscape in the area, the rock changes colour with the sun, glowing pink at sunrise through to burnt red by sunset, this giving off an eerie light and only adding to the atmosphere.

The marbles have long held great significance to local Aboriginal communities and are traditionally known as Karlu Karlu, meaning literally “round boulders”. Originally, the Karlu Karlu site belonged to the Alyawarre People, but now many other Aboriginal groups have developed spiritual connections to the area and are responsible for its protection. The marbles are a setting for many dreamtime stories.

There are no official hiking trails here but a network of self-guided tracks lead through this geological marvel with information boards explaining how the marbles came to be as they are today. Everyone is unique and with each turn you'll be treated to another spectacular viewpoint, each different from the last. Because of their size and varying shapes the boulders offer a multitude of habitats for wildlife and plants. Some surfaces take the full force of the sun while others are shady and cool, providing moist dark shelters for plants and insects. Life is tough in the outback and these amazing rocks provide a sanctuary for plants and animals alike, including Fairy Martin Birds and Pygmy Spiny-Tailed Goannas.

The Devil's Marbles are a once in a lifetime experience, unique and beautiful and a visit to this remote, weird landscape will stay with you forever.

Jump aboard our 5 day, 4 night Ultimate Central Australia Tour (departing from Alice Springs or Darwin or reverse) to experience all that The Devils Marbles has to offer!

8 Animals to look out for between Darwin and Uluru

The northern part of the Red Centre may look barren and lifeless, but there are plenty of seriously cute critters that call this beautiful wilderness home. Keep your eyes peeled and you may be lucky enough to spot a few, if not all, of these remarkable animals during your Outback adventure.

Thorny Devil

This beautiful lizard is one of the icons of the Outback. Coming in at a tiny 20cms in size, the Thorny Devil is part of the Dragon Lizard family and live for up to 20 years. Despite their fearsome appearance – their skin is covered in tiny spines – and name, they are one of the least aggressive lizards in Australia and have a gentle, shy nature. Difficult to spot, you’re most likely to see one sunning itself by the side of the road, soaking up the sunlight they need to raise their body temperature. Look out for its erect tail and keep your eyes peeled and to the ground during any hikes. Populations are suffering due to habitat loss so seeing one is a real privilege.

Goanna

The goanna is a large lizard which loves to laze around in the sun, and are widespread throughout Australia, so you’ve got a good chance of spotting one while travelling through the Outback. The goanna is actually a monitor lizard, given their distinctive name by early settlers from Europe who thought they looked like iguanas! They can reach over 2 metres long and eat snakes, insects and even birds. They love to dig holes, so wherever you see holes in the ground, a goanna is likely to be close by.

Red Kangaroo

One of Australia’s best loved icons, the red kangaroo is likely to top anyone’s list of wildlife to spot while in the desert. The “big red” is the biggest marsupial in the world, and you’ll spot them in droves throughout the desert regions. Their hopping isn’t just cute, it’s also energy efficient and quick (they can reach speeds of 60mph), enabling them to travel large distances to find the small amounts of food available. When it’s hot, you’ll find them lazing around in the scrub. Very sensible indeed.

Desert Dingo

Another iconic Aussie animal, the dingo is an intelligent and gorgeous wild dog that has been around these parts for more than 3,500 years. Fully grown, these sandy coloured beauties can grow up to 20kg in weight and are unique in that they don’t bark, but howl. Over the years they’ve been crossed with European dogs and the famous blue heeler is a well known dingo cross. Dingoes are omnivores meaning they eat both meat and anything else they can find, and mostly hunt at night. They have an unjustly deserved bad reputation but are graceful and shy and a top sight during any desert adventure.

Spinifex Hopping Mouse

These nocturnal mice are one of the creatures you’re most likely to see while out walking at night. They have a distinctive tufted tail and bound along at night on their long legs and giant feet. Growing up to 5 inches in height, they live in small family groups in burrows underground to protect themselves from predators. Keep your torch pointed towards the ground and keep a sharp eye out for these bouncing beauties.

 Woma Python

Another nocturnal sight is the woma python. Growing up to 3 metres in length and with pretty striped, brown markings, they make their home in sandy burrows left behind by other animals. They hunt by suffocating their prey with their body before swallowing them whole. They are no danger to people and are not venomous. They are also critically endangered so if you do see one, count yourself very fortunate.

Camel

These “ships of the desert” are not native to Australia, but have become one of the ubiquitous sights of the Outback. Tall and graceful, often with a grumpy temperament, they can travel huge distances with little to no water and move in large groups. They do so well in the harsh Outback environment that Australia is now one of the world’s top producer of camels, exporting them to the Middle East and beyond. Look out for them both on the road and on the menu, if that’s your bag.

Bilby

Possibly the cutest of all, but also the rarest, the pretty bilby is a small marsupial with a huge snout and large ears, in a tiny package coming in at around 30 inches long, so you’ll definitely need to keep your eyes peeled for this one. Like most desert creatures, the bilby tends to hide away from the sun during the day, so look out for them at dawn and dusk.

Want to see these beautiful creatures and more?! Check out our Central Australia, Uluru to Uluru tours and our awesome guides will do there very level best to seek them out for you!

10 Things to Know About Camping in the Outback

Camping in the wilderness of the Outback is in a once in a lifetime experience that will stay with you forever. The feeling of connecting with nature and waking to the sight of the sun rising over the red earth is truly special. Before you hit the road and unroll your swag, here are a few things to note.

Pitch perfect

The Outback sun is harsh so make sure to pitch your tent, or roll out your swag, in an area with a good deal of shade. The sun quickly warms the air and land in the early morning, and during the day a tent in the sun can be almost unbearable. Pitch in the shade.

Bring a decent sleeping bag

Investing in a good quality sleeping bag or swag can mean the difference between freezing through the night with no sleep, and a warm cosy snooze. Temperatures drop dramatically at night in the desert so a lightweight, easily packable but warm sleeping bag is essential, not to mention a health regulation requirement. Bring your own or hire one on your tour.

Sun protection

The sun in the outback is notoriously strong and it’s important to remain hydrated and protected at all times while hiking, or even just hanging out in camp. Make sure you pack a wide rimmed sun hat, high factor sun cream and plenty of long sleeved shirts and trousers. Rehydration salts are a great way of boosting the salts lost through sweating and an essential for any toiletry bag.

Be prepared for flies

Yes, there are flies in the Outback. Lots of them. Summer sees the highest number but they are around all year and love to buzz around your face. Given how arid the climate is, the flies seek out moisture wherever they can find it, and your eyes and mouth are unfortunately included! Invest in a fly net to hang around your head while you hike. You may look odd but it will keep the flies at bay.

We are all made of stars

The complete lack of artificial light means ideal conditions for stargazing. There’s nothing better than laying back in your swag and seeing more stars than you thought existed. Camping in the wilderness will give you this experience every night. Invest in a star map to really get the most of those skies.

It’s dark at night

Pitch black dark. Which means perfect conditions for star gazing, but dangerous to walk around at night. Don’t just rely on the light on your phone and invest in a compact, powerful torch with long life batteries.

Don’t expect gourmet cooking

Part of the fun of camping is immersing yourself in nature and getting back to basics. And that means not always being able to have the food you’d be having at home. We pride ourselves on catering for all sorts of dietary requirements but supplies can be limited. If there is something you really can’t live without, bring it along in your pack.

Critters and outback wildlife

Sleeping on the ground means you will be coming into close (sometimes very close!) contact with the local insect population, and more. But don’t be tempted to squash the first spider or scorpion you see, the vast majority of spiders and scorpions in the Outback are completely harmless, and you are kind of on their turf anyway. Always be sure to check your boots or shoes first thing in the morning though, just in case.

Dust

The desert is dusty. No great surprise there, so be prepared to protect any delicate electrical equipment such as cameras and phones by bringing a good supply of sealable plastic bags. Bagging your precious items when not in use will protect them from the fine dust that can cause wreak havoc.

Take an adventurous spirit

Probably the most important thing you can bring along is an open mind and sense of adventure. Camping in the Outback can sometimes be a bit of a challenge, but the amazing experiences and sights more than make up for it. Enjoy the wilderness!

Seeking a camping adventure where you can have the chance to discover the Red Centre with like-minded travellers? Check out our Mulgas Adventures Tours and explore all that is on offer in the Red Centre today!

The best way to travel from Darwin to Alice Springs

Traveling the more than 1,500km from Darwin to Alice Springs can seem like a daunting task. There is no doubt it’s a long way, but with so many amazing sights and experiences to be had in this beautiful part of the Red Centre, it doesn’t have to feel like a slog.

There are a number of ways to make the journey, and some travellers automatically opt for the quick, easy option of taking a flight. It is probably the most convenient way of getting from the city to the Outback, but what a waste! Making the journey by plane not only means parting with a hefty amount of your hard earned cash, it also means missing all the sights along the way. So unless time is of the essence, give the airport a miss.

The world famous Ghan railway makes the journey over the course of 2 days and is a pleasant, if pricey, way of catching the vast horizons and dusty towns as you zoom past. You’ll be treated to 5 star service with excellent food, soft beds and all the comforts of home. But it comes at a cost. Five star service means five star prices and this option is way out of the price range of most travellers. Choosing the train also means you’ll have no time to stop and explore all the beautiful natural wonders along the route.

The best option by far is to travel overland. Hitting the road means you can really embrace the Outback, get your boots dusty and fill your camera with amazing photos of this remarkable environment with its wonderful wildlife and sights. And at a low price to boot. Our Mulgas Adventures, Darwin to Alice Springs Express (reverse trip also available) is a fast and affordable 2 day journey that takes in such sights as the ancient and spiritual rock formation known as the Devils Marbles, where huge granite boulders seemingly defy the laws of gravity, the therapeutic Mataranka Thermal Springs and the stunning cascading waterfalls of Edith Falls. You will also get the chance to stay in a bona fide Outback town and the chance to chat with some true Aussie pioneers who call the place home. With so much to see and do, this journey isn’t just an ‘A to B’ trip. Make the most of your time and relax with fellow travellers and a knowledgeable guide who can really bring this magical area to life.

And if you are seeking more than just the Darwin to Alice Springs Express you can also select our Ultimate Tour Package which will also have you visiting the beautiful sites of the Red Centre, including Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon and of course the infamous Uluru.