Australia – Northern Territory: The Red Centre

From food to adventure and deep cultural experiences, travel guru Richard Bangs shares his secret and not-so-secret spots in Australia’s Northern Territory. This is Richard’s video guide and more to the Outback!!!

EXPLORE | DRINK | EAT | SLEEP | TOP 10


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WHAT TO DRINK

Beer is the water of the Outback, and there are countless brands and brews, from Fosters to the iconic Darwin Stubby, to keep your thirst, no matter how mighty, slated. I became a fan of One Fifty Lashes Pale Ale, a James Squire Craft Beer. The story goes that when James Squire was discovered stealing ingredients from the stores to make the colony’s first batch of beer, the Judge ordered 150 lashes… plus 2 barrels of ale. Thankfully, James Squire was a far better brewer than he was a thief.

And you have to try Bob Taylor’s home-brewed cordial, lemon with river mint, while relaxing under the stars outside Alice Springs.

Bush tea, made from native plants such as leptospermum, referred to as tea tree is popular among the locals, and know that Cappuccino is often seasoned with wattle seed, which is really quite a tasty additive.

And of course, the full array of Australia’s fine wines are available throughout the Outback.


WHERE TO STAY

While at Uluru we stayed at the Sails in the Desert Hotel, a full-service, five-star resort that springs like an oasis from the soft red sands. And, it is close to everything worth seeing and doing.

At Kings Canyon, we stayed at Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge. It is glamping at its best, safari-style air-conditioned canvas tents with king-size beds on wooden platforms in a grove of tall desert oaks. It offers all the accoutrements of a city five-star, but with the added thrill of snakes and dingoes outside.

And at Alice Springs, we rested heads at Lasseters, a relatively new resort and casino on the edge of town.


​​​​​​​​​​​​​WHAT TO DO

So many choices; so little time. Here are some of the super experiences I enjoyed, and recommend:

1) Ride a camel.

2) Watch the sunrise in a hot air balloon (Alice Springs)

3) Ride a Harley by The Rock

4) Learn an Aboriginal Art Form

5) Throw a boomerang

6) Dance with the Aborigines (the Wakagetti Dancers)

7) Hike Kings Canyon, the Grand Canyon of Australia

8) Fly in a helicopter

9) Ride a Quad Bike

10) Not climb The Rock (and honor the sacred place of the Aborigines)


WHERE AND WHAT TO EAT

You have to try the Four Food Groups of the Outback: Crocodile, Camel, Emu and Kangaroo. In addition, if feeling trick, try the ngarlkirdi, or witchetty grub, which is considered a delicacy – either raw or cooked. And Quandongs, a native peach with a delicate flavour, usually served stewed or in ice cream.

The eateries we enjoyed:

  • Tali Wiru: Intimate dining under the Outback sky. The name means “beautiful dune,” which, with a backdrop of Uluru (almost anywhere you go for kilometers in any direction offers a backdrop of Uluru), serves up a table d’hote four-course dinner that spills into the starry darkness. The menu includes such as native thyme and garlic grilled darling downs wagyu fillet, wattleseed rubbed kangaroo carpaccio, bunya nut and shallot crusted polenta fondant and bush yoghurt foam, all paired with fine Australian wines. Between the main courses and dessert a wait staff appears with a laser pointer and travels the sky, from the Southern Cross to Scorpio to Orion, all riding beneath the dense swath of the Milky Way.
  • Outback Pioneer BBQ: Do-it-yourself BBQ with authentic Aussie charm. The gimmick here is that you cook your own meat on indoor grills and pans. The beef is best of class, and here you can order up sausages of Crocodile, Camel, Emu and Kangaroo.
  • Ayer’s Wok and Geckos are two favorite local lunch spots in the town of Yulara near the base of Uluru. I had a wickedly good Outback Pizza smothered with smoked kangaroo and emu strips.
  • The Bough Shed at the Curtain Springs Station: the best two-fisted cheeseburger in Oz.
  • The Overlanders Steakhouse: THE place to go to fill up in Alice Springs. The only problem is you’ll be hungry five or six days later. I recommend the Scotch fillet. Proprietor Wayne “Krafty” Kraft  has kitted out his place with all sorts of knick-knacks from the days of “Drovers” (the Aussie cowboys who moved cattle), and movie posters of films shot nearby. If you tell Krafty I sent you he promises he will buy you a beer.
  • The Bob Taylor Mbantua Dinner tour: worth every penny. A must-do when in Alice Springs. Bob Taylor sets up an elaborate outdoor chuck wagon near Simpsons Gap in the Western McDonnell Ranges and proceeds to cook up magic under the stars. They say when Bob Taylor barbecues, vegetarians convert.

  • HOW TO GET THERE AND AROUND

    There are regular direct flights from Sydney and other major Australian airports to both Ayers Rock (Uluru) and Alice Springs. Once in The Red Centre there are many modes of transport to get around from car rentals to buses and


    WHY NOT TO CLIMB THE ROCK (ULURU)

    Because it is a sacred place for the Aborigines, and they ask we honor their convictions. And because that decision unlocks a different level of awareness and adventure. It pricks the pleasure zones that come from restraint, reflection and respect.