When visiting the Red Centre most people head to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon. However, these overpopulated tourist havens may leave you more stressed than before you left home! Why not buck the trend and head to these breathtaking sites instead?

1. PALM VALLEY

Palm Valley

An ancient valley

The great thing about Palm Valley is the first crossing of the Finke River stops all the soft roaders and two-wheel drive vehicles. You see, access to the Palm Valley campground is only suitable for 4WD vehicles with decent clearance, decent tyres and an air-compressor as a definite. The campground offers limited spaces, communal fires pits, tank water, flushing toilets and hot showers for only $6.60 a night for adults.

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Driving the Finke River

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Great camp sites

The track from the campground to Palm Valley has been modified in recent years, making it less gnarly, but high clearance will help you over the rocks that litter the track. From the car park, there are two walking options, both providing brilliant views of the ancient Red Cabbage Palms that thrive only in this section of central Australia.

 

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Looks rugged

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From when dinosaurs roamed

2. BOGGY HOLE

Boggy Hole credit Monica Emm

Stunningly beautiful credit Monica Emm

Forget this drive unless you are fully prepared. Boggy Hole is severely remote and a place less visited than others. You will be crossing the Finke River many times, even driving along the river in some places. Getting bogged is to be expected. It is these challenges that make Boggy Hole a must for the serious adventurer.

Boggy Hole credit Monica Emm

Getting to Boggy Hole will test you credit Monica Emm

Don’t think that you can tow a camper trailer into Boggy Hole, it is NOT recommended by NT Parks. Leave the camper at Palm Valley and do a day trip to Boggy Hole or another option is to park the camper at Kings Canyon Resort, then do a loop via Larapinta Drive, camp at Boggy Hole before continuing south to Ernest Giles Road and back to Kings Canyon.

3. CHAMBERS PILLAR

Chambers Pillar

An absolute stand out

Explorer John McDougall Stuart arrived at this stunning landmark on 6th April 1860 naming it Chambers Pillar after a mate. Stuart didn’t leave his tag on the rock, but those that followed him have. William and Mary Hayes took up land at Deep Well, Warne and Randle worked on the Overland Telegraph, storekeepers, coppers, scientists have all carved their names in the rock. Thankfully it is now illegal and the historic names will only last as long as the weather allows.

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The road in has improved

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Historical signatures

Getting to Chambers Pillar is a little easier on vehicles and drivers these days, with a lot of money having been spent on improving the road in and capping the dunes. The campsites are limited and dispersed with only pit toilets and LPG BBQ’s on offer but at $3.30 per night for adults, it is value for money. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to capture the Pillar.

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Perfect place to camp

4. OLD ANDANDO STATION

Old Andando

The old saddlery

Only 330km from Alice Springs, Old Andando Station can be accessed via the Old Ghan Track and Finke or by taking Binns Track from east of Alice Springs This historic homestead has been left as it was when Molly Clarke finally left in 2008 due to ill health. She passed away in 2012. The old homestead is open for travellers to explore, a gold coin donation is welcome to help with the upkeep.

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Cobby Bob is a legend

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Molly’s corner

It is easy to imagine the hardships that Molly faced in the years from 1969 living with no verandah’s, no windows or doors and summer temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius. Sharing the homestead with ants, snakes and spiders it would have been tough. Camping is easy at $10 per adult with flushing toilets and a hot donkey shower. A caretaker is on site to take your camping money, show you around the homestead and share the history of the place.

5. EAST MACDONNELL RANGES

Trephina Gorge

The beautiful Trephina Gorge

Every man and his dog explores the West MacDonnell Ranges leaving the East MacDonnell Ranges to folks like us. Emily Gap, Jessie Gap and Corroboree Rock Conservation Park are all impressive, Trephina Gorge will blow you away with its breathtaking beauty. You can cover these four wonders on a day trip and don’t forget N’Dhala Gorge Nature Park to top it all off.

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The East MacDonnell Ranges have many hidden treasures

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Corroboree Rock

Another option is to continue east and check out the Arltunga Historical Reserve, how did they mine for gold out here? The remote Ruby Gap Nature Park is 150km from Alice Springs and accessible by high clearance 4WD only. The 5km drive is along the Hale River and then it is a 4km walk to reach Glen Annie Gorge.

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Nice water crossing

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N’Dhala Gorge is one of the best

IMG_8331Landscape photography is my passion, it provides me with an escape, a way to forget about the pressures of life and relax in the moment. Whether it’s watching a sunset, or a stream crash over a waterfall or an abandoned car in a paddock, the moments it takes to set up my camera, compose the shot and later see what I created is a magical experience. Capturing an epic picture can be a difficult task but then there are some places that make it so easy for me, and Kerang Lakes is one of those.

Located 300km north west of Melbourne on the Murray Valley Highway, Kerang Lakes is popular with photographers, bird watchers and water sports, it certainly gets busy on the weekends and during summer school holidays. There are caravan parks at Lake Charm and Kangaroo Lake as well as options in nearby Kerang. The region is also close to Koondrook on the Murray River and Lake Boga.

I settled in at the Kangaroo Lake Caravan Park and spent the next few days exploring and quenching my thirst for photography. Here are some of the amazing vistas I captured.

Where is your “go to” place for photography?

(Clicking on the thumbnails will enlarge them)

Kerang Lakes

Kangaroo Lake Caravan Park

Kilcowera Station Stay_Kilcowera Station Dowling Way

I was exploring Outback Queensland and had spent a few days enjoying the fantastic camping out at Currawinya National Park when I decided a visit to the Royal Mail Hotel in Hungerford was in order. While enjoying a cold amber ale, I spotted a pamphlet for an outback station stay a 100km up the Dowling Track towards Thargomindah. With no firm plans, I decided I would head to Kilcowera Station and see what it had to offer. Read more

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I love Station Stays. The opportunity to check out a working property, learn about the land from the owners and sit down and share a meal at the end of the day with the family is a great way of experiencing Australia. On my last trip, I stumbled across many amazing Station Stays and one that I was truly lucky to discover was Hale River Homestead at Old Ambalindum.

I was warmly welcomed by Lynne, who with her husband Sean own the property. Lynne takes care of the accommodation side, with the help of her daughter Sophie and grandson David. Cooper is the youngest and has a few years yet to grow into an outback cowboy like his brother David.

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Credit: Hale River Homestead

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