Kata Tjuta, The Other Uluru

Kata Tjuta (Mount Olga) is less known than its famous neighbor Uluru, but it is still impressive. These domes (there are 36 exactly) are located about thirty kilometres away from the rock of Uluru. They are part, with the latter, of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We urge you to walk within the valleys and deep gorges created by these rock formations. Whether you choose the Valley of the Winds (7.4 km), or in the Walpa Gorge (2.6 km) (photo), do not miss this opportunity to get away from everyone and everything in a breathtaking environment. You will certainly feel alive! The colors are particularly beautiful in the afternoon and early evening. Be careful though, because of the extreme temperatures which often occur in the area, the tracks are not always open to the public. They are closed when the temperature exceeds 36°C. The picnic area located a few kilometers away from the base of Kata Tjuta, however, is a good alternative to admire the sunset.

Uluru, The Sacred Place

Uluru is one of the most famous rocks in the world (photo). Also known as Ayers Rock, this world-class natural show is particularly moving, an emotion difficult to express with words. No photo or video can replace what you see with your own eyes after the long journey that takes you there (Alice Springs is 460 km away, Adelaide is 1,600 km away and Darwin is 1,960 km away). It is located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which also includes the rock formations of Kata Tjuta (Mount Olga), sacred places of a very high importance to the Anangu people, one of the oldest human societies in the world. The park is one of the few sites part of the UNESCO World Heritage List for both its natural and cultural wealth. Uluru, which has become a major tourist attraction since the World War II, is a symbol of Australia. With the construction of a huge modern resort and the presence of too many tours, the place loses its authenticity. Sometimes it feels like Disneyland and that is unfortunate. Just like us, you can do your part not to encourage this excessive commercial development:
  • Do not climb Uluru, you will show respect to Traditional Owners' law and culture;
  • Take part in a daily cultural guided tour, run either by the Rangers (free) or by Indigenous;
  • Visit the impressive Cultural Centre (free);
  • Spend the night, if possible, on one of the free campsites located around the park.
Finally, do not miss a sunset over Uluru. This is a unique moment when the rock changes colors. Note that raining is rare in the Outback. However, severe storms can occur at Uluru. On this occasion, you might see a rare sight: huge waterfalls. If you have had the chance to experience it, share your photos with our readers!

Road Trips Collateral Damage

Australia is one of the best countries for road trips. Those who have already experienced it know very well that having a breakdown comes with the fun of a road trip (we have experienced it ourselves when crossing the Nullarbor). Here in Australia, distances are sometimes so huge between the location of the breakdwon and the nearest garage, that towing can cost more than abandoning your vehicle along the road and buy a used one in the next city. Then, one can find curious trophies (photo) in the scenery along the highways. We even met some people whose job is to drive for hours to rid the landscape of the old rusting cars!

Extreme Heat In Australia

We are not going to lie: summer in Australia is warm, sometimes really hot. Whether on the road that took us from Perth to Darwin or traveling from Darwin to Adelaide, we had days where the temperature never came down below 40°C: a true desert climate! Heading towards the center, precipitation is low, which makes the heat difficult to bear. The highest temperature we experienced was 46°C (photo) in Tennant Creek.

Unique Stopover On The Stuart Highway

A few weeks ago we came accross the William Creek Hotel and the North Star Hotel in South Australia. This time, on the Stuart Highway between Katherine and Tennant Creek, we spotted the Larrimah Hotel, in the tiny hamlet of the same name. As for the other two, you have to stop in this pub. You will have no problem to recognize it: the Pink Panther is sitting outside along the highway. The Larrimah Hotel is a hotel, a camping, a pub, a museum, a zoo... but also one of the many unusual places that give the Outback part of its charm. There are certainly dozens of them scattered around the country. Feel free to share your own discoveries with us!

Swimming Bliss

What a delight to swim in these thermal pools found scattered across the Northern Territory (and the rest of northern Australia)! We mentionned Katherine's Hot Springs a few days ago. This time, we are at the Bitter Springs in Mataranka. They are located in a beautiful environment on the edge of Elsey National Park, 100 kilometers south-east of Katherine. These spring-fed thermal pools are a great place to relax amongst palms and tropical woodlands, especially after a long drive. We even came accross a European couple riding their bikes around the world, who spent the night there. Still be carefull though. Swimming is not permitted during the wet season due to dangerous currents and increased risk of Saltwater Crocodiles.

Crocodile Hunting

One of the major tourist attractions in Darwin area is undoubtedly joining a "hunt" for crocodiles. Of course, there is the Crocosaurus Cove. But to see these reptiles in the wild, you need to head out from the city centre and join a boat cruise on the Adelaide River, well know for its high concentration of Saltwater Crocodiles. There are, in total, more than 100,000 reptiles of this species in the northern Australia's rivers. However, it is actually really rare to see them. On the Adelaide River, they are used to the boats and they know that they will be fed, so they do not hesitate to leave their place of hiding. Even if we are on a boat (read "relatively safe"), it is still pretty impressive to see them approaching. When close to the piece of meat waiting for them, they do not hesitate to jump out of the water (photo), showing visitors their incredible power. There are many cruises available. We experienced the activity offered by Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise which claims to have the most experienced staff on the river. This is one of the most exciting activity we have done so far. This cruise, which lasts for about an hour, is to put on your To-Do List right away!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise.

Crocs In The City

Lately in a few Northern Territory parks, we have seen many signs indicating the presence of crocodiles. Fortunately, our last encounter with one of these reptiles, which was in March, occurred at Wild Life Zoo in Sydney. Being in Darwin, we did not want to miss a visit to Crocosaurus Cove in the heart of the city. This centre dedicated to these fascinating creatures is above all a rare opportunity to get really close to them. The Big Croc Feed is a not to be missed attraction. Considering that Crocosaurus Cove is home to some of the world's largest crocodiles in captivity, it is quite an awesome show! If you feel like it (and you should do it no matter what), you can also fish for energetic juvenile crocodiles. The Cage of Death, Australia's only crocodile dive experience, is accessible at an extra fee (we did not experience it, but no doubt it must be as impressive as diving among Great White Sharks). Photo opportunities guaranteed!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Crocosaurus Cove.

Darwin, The Remote Capital

Darwin surroundings are not to be missed, either Kakadu or Katherine region, but the city itself is rather disappointing. This is at least the case if you expect to arrive in a bustling tourist destination. It must be said that the capital city of Northern Territory has not always lived happy days. During World War II, the city has indeed suffered many attacks from the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. Numerous civilians were killed and extensive damages were caused to the town. A few years later, in 1974, Cyclone Tracy destroyed a massive part of the city. Darwin is also known to be the most lightning-prone city in the world. The picture is not really rosy if we add to all of this, accidents caused by crocodiles, presence of jellyfish in the Timor Sea and the remoteness of the city (Darwin is closer to the capitals of five other countries than to Canberra). Fortunately, there are still some activities of interest. Lameroo beach (photo), located under the Esplanade, is not exposed to the public. This is a great place to watch the sunsets. A few steps away is Mitchell Street, the bustling part of the city. This is where one can find many bars and restaurants as well as the Crocosaurus Cove, a must see attraction when visiting Darwin dedicated to the crocodiles.

Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park is a reserve of major importance, both for its natural and cultural treasures (its lands have always been inhabited for more than 40,000 years). UNESCO has also listed Kakadu as World Heritage in both categories. Covering an area of 20,000 sq km, it represents a complex ecosystem in which a surprisingly large amount of rare plant and animal species live together, just over two hours drive from Darwin. We did not spend to much time there but we still had the chance to discover beautiful places such as Maguk (photo). Do not make the mistake to spend too little time in the Park. There are many tour operators in the area. Joining a guided tour is probably the best way not to miss any of all its treasures, including Aboriginal rock paintings, in one of the world's largest concentrations. Note that the entrance is free. Jabiru, a small town completely surrounded by Kakadu National Park is really handy for refueling (visitors and vehicles).

On The Way To Darwin

Edith Falls (or Leliyn) are the second main attraction of Nitmiluk National Park along with the Katherine Gorge. These picturesque waterfalls flow into a massive plunge pool in which it is possible (and very pleasant) to swim. Be careful though because signs indicate the possible presence of freshwater crocodiles, considered less dangerous than saltwater crocodiles, in the late afternoon. This beautiful place is located on the west side of the Park, 40 kilometres north of Katherine on the Stuart Highway on the way to Darwin. Leliyn has a landscaped campground with unpowered sites.

The Spectacular Katherine Gorge

During a stay in Darwin do not miss the opportunity to visit the world famous Katherine Gorge, located in the Nitmiluk National Park, 250 kilometres south of the capital city of the Northern Territory. This deep gorge, more than 20 million years old, offers a diverse and spectacular landscape, including cliffs over 70 metres high (photo). The most popular place to admire the surroundings is located directly on the Katherine River (cruises, canoeing, swimming). It is also possible to walk on one of the numerous walking tracks starting from Nitmiluk Centre to experience the gorge from above. Access to Katherine Gorge is via Katherine on a 30 kilometres sealed road northeast of the city. It is better to avoid visiting the park during the wet season (December to April). Due to flooding, access and activities are not necessarily available. The best time to visit the park is therefore between May and September.

Why Katherine Is Worth A Stop

The small town of Katherine is located 300 kilometers south of Darwin. It is well known to tourists because of its proximity to the Nitmiluk National Park, home of Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls. Katherine is also the birthplace of Cadel Evans, 2009 UCI Road World Champion and the first Australian to win the Tour de France in 2011. Many deny the existence of its Hot Springs (photo), however, they are a natural curiosity and certainly worth a stop in Northern Territory's fourth largest town. Beyond a natural swimming pool, it is a real jacuzzi. The crystal clear water in this spring has an average annual temperature of 32°C. The place is not necessarily well signposted. It lies between the Victoria Highway and the Katherine River about a kilometre south of the city centre. The enchanting landscape and the recent restructure of the area make it a really pleasant place. A must do!

Crocodile Safety

Spiders, sharks are snakes are just a few among the plethra of dangerous animals in Australia. In the north of the country, whether in Western Australia, Queensland or the Northern Territory, crocodiles are high on the list too, especially considering they are top of the food chain and humans are on the menu! They can be found almost anywhere there is water, in rivers, along coastlines, estuaries and even bodies of water that lie far inland. Admittedly, the creeks are beautiful and inviting, especially when it is hot. But before a swim, take the time to read the warning signs! One also wonders what important information has been hidden on this sign that was found in the Kakadu National Park.

Bushfires In Australia

In the north of Western Australia and the Northern Territory, bushfires are common throughout the year. It is important to take precautions when staying in the area. These fires have killed in the past. If you are travelling or if you camp in a forest or the bush, fire is a potential hazard that should not be overlooked. Authorities make travellers guides available for visitors to understand the risks and to know how to react if a fire starts.

The Australian Baobabs

Found in the Kimberley and in the adjacent Northern Territory a multitude of Australian baobabs. This is the only place in Australia, and one of the few places in the world (there are other species in Africa, Arabian Peninsula and Madagascar), where one can see these interesting trees growing natively. Like all the baobabs, they are easily recognizable by their impressive trunk size. Indigenous Australians used them as a food source and for medicinal purposes. They also used them to paint or make sculptures. On the other hand tourists stop on the side of the road to take pictures of them, as they do with the termite mounds that are also found in large numbers in the area.

Lake Argyle

Lake Argyle, classed as an inland sea, is Australia's largest artificial lake. It is located near Kununurra in the north of Western Australia close to the Northern Territory border. The dam, completed in 1972, was designed to irrigate Kimberley's farmland. Its maximum storage capacity correlates to 40 times the size of Sydney Harbour over an area of ​​1000 sq km. Its creation was a disaster for the local Indigenous Australian communities whose lands were left submerged. However, it has also led to the emergence of a new ecosystem. Today, tens of thousands of crocodiles inhabit the lake and its artificial islands banks. Whether by boat or by plane, nature lovers will certainly enjoy the beautiful landscape of Lake Argyle!

The Flight Of A Lifetime

Don't have a 4WD to go to the Purnululu National Park?  You do not want to miss out on admiring this wonder of nature during your stay in the Kimberley but access to the park is closed? No problem, head to Kununurra and fly with Slingair Heliwork on a two hour scenic flight. You will remember it for the rest of your life! Every second of the flight is a feast for the eyes. After flying over the orchards of Kununurra, it is the beautiful scenery of Lake Argyle (photo) that is available to you. A few minutes later, the show becomes more amazing when the Bungle Bungle Range arises. The orange and black striped rock formations are also clearly visible from the air. Crevices, gorges, cliffs and creeks are part of the wide range of beauty that nature has to offer which you may not necessarily be able to access from the ground. The return to Kununurra is equally impressive especially over the Argyle Diamond Mine, the largest in the world. During the flight, the pilot is also your guide and provides valuable commentary on the region. The Bungle Bungle and Lake Argyle scenic flight is one of Slingair Heliwork's most popular. The company also offers a dozen more different flight options, either by plane or helicopter. A must to discover the hidden treasures of the Kimberley!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Slingair Heliwork.

Purnululu National Park

The Purnululu National Park offers one of the most fascinating landscapes on Earth, nothing less. From a geological, biological and climatic point of view, the Purnululu is unique in the world, which allowed it to be listed as UNESCO World Heritage site. Located in the Kimberley in Western Australia, it covers nearly 240,000 hectares. Its main attraction is formed by the Bungle Bungle Range, made of spectacular domed or hives rocks resulting from 20 million years of erosion. Some rise up over 200 metres above which look like small savannahs. The uniqueness of these formations also lies in their orange and black colored bands. On site one can find many hiking trails that run through winding and majestic gorges. Access to the park is not easy, due to its remoteness and track conditions (4WD required). It is possible to fly over the Purnululu departing from Kununurra. Please note that the park is closed during the wet season, from December to early April. As unlikely as it may seem, the Purnululu was discovered by Westerners around twenty years ago but the Indigenous Australians have long inhabited the area. One wonders how many places as magical as this are still unknown to the general public!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Department of Environment and Conservation (Western Australia).

Cable Beach

A trip to Broome would not be complete without seeing Cable Beach (and going to Matso's), long recognized as one of the world's best beaches. This long stretch of pristine white sand 22 kilometers is the ideal place to relax in the sun, take a swim, fish or just enjoy the beautiful sunsets over the Indian Ocean. Pay attention though, heading north on the west coast, Broome is one of the first places where jellyfish are reported.

Beer And Crocodile Meat In The Tropics

It is almost by chance that we crossed paths with Matso's Broome Brewery. What a great discovery! It is possible to visit this micro-brewery (under renovation during our stay) but you need to taste its beer and food. We are not necessarily big fans of beer but we could not resist the invitation. Be aware that they have a great selection. If like us, you can not make up your mind when faced the wide selection offered, opt for a tasting. You will receive five beers of your choice on a tray. After the tasting, our preference swayed towards the mango beer and the ginger beer. The chilli-out beer, a wheat beer with a bold chilli statement, is also standout. The terrace restaurant is located in a tropical atmosphere. But know that the exotic atmosphere is not only in the gardens around you, there is crocodile meat on the menu! If you're looking for an excuse to get to Broome, Matso's is a very good one!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Matso's Broome Brewery.

Broome, A Tidal Story

Broome is a small seaside town with a tropical climate which seems rather calm and without major attraction at first sight (though it must depend on the season). Of course, Broome hosts the world famous Cable Beach. But if you take the time to explore, you can also enjoy the rich cultural and historical heritage influenced by the ethnic diversity of the city which was once the World's capital of the pearl industry. As far as natural attractions go you will not be disappointed either. The tidal movements, among the largest in the world, offer visitors interesting natural phenomenons. First of all there is the famous Staircase to the Moon. This natural spectacle creates the optical illusion of a staircase reaching for the moon. It occurs three times a month between March and October at extremely low tide, when the full moon rises over the exposed mudflats. The low tides allow the visitors to discover Dutch Flying Boat Wrecks, the remnants of the Japanese air raid on Broome during World War II in March 1942. Finally, visiting the remarkable rocks at Gantheaume Point (photo), you step further back in history, because there are 130 million year old dinosaur footprints that can be seen at extremely low tide. One thing is certain, before traveling to Broome, it is important to check the tide schedule to not miss any part of the show!


Moving away from major Australian cities is driving mostly on sand tracks with all the surprises that await you at the next turn. Dust is one of many of these not so pleasant surprises. Desert regions are often very dry, which does not help the situation. It is difficult in these conditions to maintain a clean vehicle. But it does not deserve a post on iPhoneography Oz if we would stop here. Know that while driving, vehicles create so much fine dust that a large quantity seeps into cars, even with windows closed and fan off. In Western Australia, it is mainly the red dust that is on the menu. This is due to the presence of iron in the sand, the oxidation by the action of sunlight gives it this red color. One could almost believe to be at the French Open, on Roland Garros center court's clay. The good news is that it adds a little color to your interior and your complexion.

Eighty Mile Beach

Eighty Mile Beach, which technically equates to around 130 kilometres, stretches over 200 kilometres long and 100 metres wide in reality. This white sand beach of Western Australia is located between Port Hedland and Broome. The place is famous for its fishing, shell collecting and bird watching. Actually it seems that each year, half a million shorebirds come to rest and feed on the beach after migrating from the Arctic Circle. It is also a great place to watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean. The pleasures of the beach without being disturbed by any annoying neighbours!

Walking Through The Karijini

The Karijini National Park is one of the jewels of the Pilbara. Walking through the park, you will discover spectacular scenery that time has shaped for over two billion years. A paradise for geologists, but not only this. The water has carved out magnificent gorges, some of them hundreds of metres deep. It is possible to access waterholes (or admire them from various lookouts) after a short walk or longer hikes. You will not be disappointed! These gorge walks are also the main attraction of the place. The Karijini is located just above the Tropic of Capricorn and often the temperatures reach 40°C in summer. The ideal time to visit is between May and September. No matter when, you will certainly appreciate swimming in the creeks. It is a refreshing experience that contrasts with the arid surroundings. Access to the park by car is possible even if some roads are not sealed. Note that only the northern part of the park is accessible to the public. One wonders what the southern part has to offer. We want more!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Department of Environment and Conservation (Western Australia).

Road Conditions In Australia

Well, it is no big secret, but Australia is a vast country. As soon as one takes to the road, especially when traveling inland, the distances are huge and Australia becomes a dreamland for a road trip. Hazardous road conditions are common though so always be cautious. If the main roads linking the capitals and major cities are in excellent condition, most of the other roads are still unsealed and in a random condition. Thus in remote areas one can find roads ranging from asphalt to gravel and tracks. Many are feasible with a conventional vehicle, but in the more remote areas, the use of a 4WD is highly recommended and even mandatory in some places. It is important to check with local authorities before hitting the road. Of all the dangers of frequent road surface changes, the more annoying for passengers and more challenging for your car is probably found on corrugated roads. To give you an idea, imagine driving on corrugated iron for hundreds of kilometres in the middle of the outback. Unfortunately, it is difficult to prevent this from happening. However, it can be temporary solved by regrading the road (photo). Safe travels!

The Fascinating Landscapes Of The Pilbara

The Pilbara is a land of contrasts, rich with many natural wonders. Temperatures are generally high and the sky clear. During a stay in the area, take time to discover the fascinating landscapes of the national parks that time has taken millions of years to carve. Karijini National Park is the most popular of them, but some other parts of the region are also worth a look. This is the case with the Millstream Chichester National Park, which covers 200,000 hectares 150 kilometers south of Dampier. Cliffs and winding tree-lined rivers are spectacular. The park also hosts natural rock pools including the magnificent isolated Python Pool (photo). Beyond their beauty, these waters are also gifts of nature when you walk in temperatures exceeding 40°C. If you plan to spend time in the area, take precautions because there is no drinking water for hundreds of kilometres around.

The Legend Of Red Dog

We are in Western Australia's northwest. Back in the 70's the region was inhabited by various isolated mining communities. During this era, Red Dog, an iconic Australian Kelpie, spent his time wandering the land. His nickname has been attributed to the red dirt of the Pilbara. Over time, his travels made him a legend among the local population. Legend has it that after his master's death, he embarked on an endless search of him through the Australian outback. Along the way, through his unconditional companionship he united even the hardest of hearts in the local communties. The legend is perpetuated through poems and stories about the adventures of Red Dog. Recently an eponymous film, fast becoming one of the most successful Australian movies of all time, brought the legend of Red Dog to the big screen. It is a feel-good movie that will touch the hearts of everyone (watch the trailer). A memorial (photo) was erected by the many "friends" he made during his travels in honour of his contribution to the morale of the community. It is located at the entrance of Dampier, a city where he often returned.
Ironically, Red Dog could have been one of the last films that Loïc worked on the promotion of before starting the iPhoneography Oz adventure.

Cape Range National Park

Cape Range National Park is the terrestrial part of the Ningaloo Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The submerged part of the North West Cape has a diverse and abundant marine life with colourful underwater scenery, whereas the park is formed by rugged and arid land. Red limestone cliffs, incised by deep gorges, are impressive. In the eastern part of the park, a road located twenty kilometres south of Exmouth follows the razor-backed ridges and provides breathtaking views of the Charles Knife Canyons. One could easily believe they were in the Grand Canyon. There are several lookouts along the way that provide fantastic photo opportunities. Photographers and nature lovers may have found their paradise here. The western part of the park, meanwhile, gradually flattens out as it approaches the coast, giving way to the pristine white sand beaches of the Ningaloo Reef. Both the wildlife and the flora are very rich. That said, a visit in late winter is preferable to be sure to see the animals and wildflowers.

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Department of Environment and Conservation (Western Australia).

Coral Viewing And Snorkelling Tours In Exmouth

In addition to our visit to Coral Bay, we joined a snorkelling tour in Exmouth. Like Coral Bay, Exmouth also offers the opportunity to snorkel on the Ningaloo Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were delighted to join Ningaloo Ecology Cruises on their Glass Bottom Boat tour which allowed us to get up close and personal with the natural wonders of the reef. As you glide through the crystal clear water you can marvel at the colourful and 1,000 years old coral, swim with turtles and tropical fish. They offer a few different tour options ranging from coral viewing and snorkelling to exclusive tours that can be tailored to your needs. The moment you book with them the tour is guaranteed regardless of numbers. This is how much your hosts, Alek and Gina, love their "office"! It is easy to see why and we have no doubt that you will enjoy this cruise as much as we did!

iPhoneography Oz was a guest of Ningaloo Ecology Cruises.

Welcome To Exmouth

Exmouth is a small coastal town of 2,500 inhabitants located at the north end of the Ningaloo Coast. This small Western Australian town is a magnet for tourists from all around the world each year between April and July when they come to swim with the whale sharks. Its beaches and snorkeling sites are easily accessible throughout the year. Beyond the underwater wonders of the Ningaloo, note that Exmouth is a few minutes drive away from the grandiose landscape of the Cape Range National Park. Exmouth is also a communication base for the U.S. and Australian Navy and has been since the 60s. Better to have your own vehicle to explore the surroundings. Nature lovers are in heaven!