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How to travel sustainably in Australia's Northern Territory

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From October next year, climbing on Australia’s famous Uluru Rock will be officially banned.

Uluru // Image courtesy of Sean Scott/Tourism NT

Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, sits royally in the southern part of Australia’s Northern Territory. A sacred landmark of the Aboriginal residents of the area south-west of Alice Springs and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Uluru is a stunning sandstone rock formation and the home to an abundance of waterholes, caves, ancient Aboriginal paintings and freshwater springs.

It is of the utmost importance to preserve consecrated landmarks of the Aboriginal people of Australia’s Northern Territory, with the ban coming in a timely manner. But fear not intrepid explorers, climbing isn’t the only way to see this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon.

Take to the skies

Skydiving with ROCK THE SKY! // Tourism NT

Instead of digging your toes into this ancient formation, why not hurtle towards it at 100mph instead?

Skydiving is an activity on many a travellers' bucket list. And what better destination to strap in for a terminal velocity fun ride than in the Northern Territory? Save up your pennies and join the qualified team at Skydive Uluru for the thrill of a lifetime. Fly through the warm Aussie air in tandem with professional instructors, as you soak up the other-worldly beauty of the Uluru rock from the skies.

Find your walking boots

With an abundance of relatively short and flat walking trails looping around Uluru rock, there’s no need to clamber the cliff side when the views are just as stunning alongside.

The most popular base walk follows a 10.6km loop around Uluru, giving you ample time and photo opportunities. At approximately 3.5 hours, the loop passes by the intricate Aboriginal rock art making for an Instagram-crushing holiday snap.

If you’re looking for something a little shorter, the Kuniya Walk takes you up to 4.5km around the rock and up to the Mutitjulu waterhole, which is best experienced after a biblical downpour!

Hope aboard a trusty steed

Camels take desert travel to a whole different level. Beautiful, ancient and wise, camels have adapted and grown into their environment over the centuries and are an invaluable resource for desert-dwellers and foreign explorers.

Uluru Camel Tours have a farm situated at Voyages Ayers Rock Resort, where they look after their 60 working camels who take visitors on guided adventures around the Uluru rock and Kata Tjuta. Heading out at the break of the sun 365 days a year, your camel will be your right-hand man as you take in the sights, smells and sounds of the Aussie Outback. 

Rejuvenate after your epic desert ride with homemade beer-bread damper and local jams.

Get on your bike

Cycling past Uluru at Kata Tjuta National Park, Red Centre
Akari Hatakeyama/Tourism NT

Located adjacent to the car park at the Uluru Kata-Tjuta Cultural Ventre, Outback Cycling is a mobile cycling shop giving you the chance to forge your own personal connection to the sacred Aboriginal lands of the Northern Territory.

On a 15km self-guided cycle journey, you can take to the rich, red sands on a journey of a lifetime. Travel at your own pace, stopping whenever you want to take in the spiritual wonders of historic rock art and bubbling waterholes. At roughly three hours long, remember to stock up on sun cream and plenty of water so you can make the most of your two-wheeled Outback adventure.

Open your eyes

An ambitious art installation known locally as ‘Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku’ (looking at lots of beautiful lights’, or Field of Light, as Bruce Munro penned it) has been commissioned to run in the Aussie Outback until December 2020. 

As light gives way to an all-encompassing darkness in the Australian desert, Munro’s incredible installation illuminates a sea of 50,000 multi-coloured solar lights. A sharp contrast to the sheer backdrop of the Uluru rock, the art piece is a romantic and spiritual experience for travellers from across the globe. A must-see experience, and a perfect way to end a perfect trip in the Northern Territory.

Got a bit of time to explore the Northern Territory? We’d recommend the 10 Day Top End and Red Centre ‘Crocodile Rock’ Adventure (bookable through STA Travel) that takes you from Darwin to Alice Springs, and covers all of the Northern Territory’s biggest names along the way: Kakadu and Litchfield national parks, Katherine Gorge, Mataranka Thermal Pools, Devils Marbles, Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. Explore waterfalls, marvel at epic gorges, and drink in the Aboriginal culture. There really is nothing like it. Find out more here.

Need a quicker trip? The 3 Day Cockatoo Dreaming Red Centre Safari starts at Uluru, finishes at Alice Springs, and takes in Ayers Rock Resort, Kings Canyon, Mt. Ebenezer and more sights along the way. Get more info here.

You can fly to Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory, with STA Travel. Find out more here. 

Lead image: Mitchell Cox /Tourism NT 

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