Dawn Under – Uluru to get new sunrise viewing platform

Dawn Under – Uluru to get new sunrise viewing platform A brand new viewing platform will be unveiled at Uluru (Ayers Rock) on 8th October, allowing visitors to the sacred site in Australia’s Red Centre gain a whole new perspective of the iconic rock. After extensive consultation with traditional landowners regarding the location and design of the platform, the new structure will have shaded areas, walkways and raised pathways. The AU$20m (£10m) platform will cater for 3,000 visitors where as the existing dawn viewing area currently attracts over 1,200 people, which is far more than the original designers ever anticipated. The project is supported by an 11km scenic road around the rock which opened in 2008, plus a new coach area and carpark. The new platform may also offer views of Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) on a clear day. The official decision on a proposed climbing ban of Uluru is still under consultation, but the new viewing platform will offer an alternative for visitors who want more than a base view. www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/index.html More reasons to visit Australia’s Red Centre: Qantas – a fare deal Qantas Airways is currently offering fares from £759 to Central Australia for flights booked from 1st - 31st October 2009 departing from the UK from 16th April – 20th June 2010. Qantas is the global airline partner for Tourism NT’s ‘Get CeNTred’ campaign, which launches in October and comprises a series of marketing activities aimed at positioning Alice Springs, Uluru and surrounds as an enriching, holistic experience that will leave visitors to Australia’s Red Centre rejuvenated and energised. For further flight deals visit www.qantas.co.uk and for the Red Centre visit www.australiasoutback.com. NEW Kings Canyon walk Previously visitors to Kings Canyon have stopped off at the stunning rock formation as part of a wider, longer day trip, but now visitors can see more and put their best foot forward on a new walking tour that focuses on Kings Canyon. Kings Canyon Walking Tours are offering a challenging 3.5 hour rim walk or an easier 1.5 hour creek walk for those who want to view exceptional landscapes and spectacular scenery whilst learning about the area’s wildlife, plants, indigenous history, bush tucker and bush medicine. The shorter tour costs AU$20 (£10) per adult and AU$10 (£5) for children under 16. Family and group rates are available. www.kingscanyonwalkingtours.com.au The Global Green Challenge Rolls into the Red Centre Competitors in the biennial cross-continental race, which showcases the latest eco-friendly vehicles from manufacturers such as Audi, Ford, Toyota and BMW, will be racing through Australia’s Red Centre from 25th - 27th October. The Global Green Challenge is made up of two categories a) the World Solar Challenge which is for cars powered purely by solar energy and b) the Eco Challenge for environmentally friendly production and experimental vehicles. More than 20 prototype vehicles will be tested on their durability and eco friendliness as they travel 3,000km from Darwin to Adelaide. Prototypes include hybrid, electric, solar, low emission and alternative energy vehicles which will all stop at Alice Springs on the evening of 26th October quite appropriate since Alice Springs is leading the sustainable way, home to the largest building mounted solar photovoltaic systems in the southern hemisphere! www.globalgreenchallenge.com.au Off-Road adventure – Tourism NT sets out new tracks The increase in 4x4 adventurers entering the Red Centre and Top End to seek out thrills and spills has led Tourism NT to formalise a series of tracks for people to get a great off-road experience coupled with appropriate support for driving in the outback. Route markers and occasional bush camps don’t detract from the 4x4 drive but do ensure that visitors have the correct facilities that they might need. They are also keen to educate thrill seekers about 4x4 basics such as tyre pressures, how to approach a dune, how to get out of a bog and recognising the dangers of drivers just relying on GPS. www.en.travelnt.com/experience/driving The new rock on the block! The Red Centre is famed for two rock formations – Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). However a third rock formation has too long been in the shadows! Rainbow Valley is a 300 million year-old formation which is situated off the Stuart Highway about an hour south of Alice Springs. Similarly to Uluru, the rock has stunning colour changes throughout the day; however Rainbow Valley is relatively unknown to most who visit the Red Centre. The aboriginal heritage surrounding the rock is deep rooted with grindstones and flint tools littering the back of the rock where elders resided. www.nt.gov.au/nreta/parks/find/rainbowvalley Date for your diary: Royal Geographic Society – Hidden...Outback, 17th October 2009 Hidden…Outback is a day-long celebration of travel to the Outback with lectures, workshops and seminars led by experts. These are informative and inspiring sessions for the discerning independent traveller. From people and culture to trekking and train journeys, from wildlife photography to gap year experience - this event goes beyond the guide books! Speakers include: Charley Boorman, Sandy Gall, Andy Rouse, Sarah Marquis, Rebecca Hossack and Simon Calder. Tickets cost £10 for non members & £5 for members, and are available at www.rgs.org/whatson *ENDS* For more information and photography contact Suzanne Holiday or Tryphena Greenwood on T: +44 207 839 2140 or tourismntmedia@keenepa.co.uk and visit www.australiasoutback.com. NOTES TO EDITORS 1. Australia’s Northern Territory is a leading nature and culture destination where Australia’s Outback meets the tropics and is home to Australia’s most dramatic, beautiful and varied scenery including the awe-inspiring red centre icons of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon as well as the Top End adventure and wildlife destinations of Katherine Gorge and Kakadu National Park. 2. Darwin International Airport is an international gateway to Australia offering connections to Singapore, which is just over four hours away. 3. The peak visitor time is during the dry season, from May to September, but the Tropical Summer from October to April brings spectacular lightning shows and lush growth. 4. www.australiasoutback.com is an essential resource for travellers planning a trip to the Northern Territory.