North East of the rock (Ayers Rock now Uluru) is Alice Springs which is the original outback town. Although it is surrounded by desert there are plenty of things to do as the scenery is spectacular. Out of the need to raise money for charity The Rotary Club of Alice Springs, whilst picnicking and swilling a few beers, decided to run a Regatta on the dry bed of the Todd River. It was decided that they should cut the bottoms out of the boats and carry them as they ran. The first Regatta was held on December 1962. The Henley-On-Todd was recently officially declared an iconic event by the Northern Territory Government.
The Todd River is a normally a dry river that winds its way through the town of Alice Springs. The catchment area of 445 square km covers the centre of Australia. The river flows south through Alice Springs for a length of 50 km. The Charles River is a main tributary to the Todd River.
The river rarely flows, a fact that has led to a local saying that, “if you see the Todd flow 3 times you will stay living in Alice Springs forever and that you will only see it flow 7 times in a lifetime”.
April 2014 – the Todd River is running and there is an air of excitement with the locals. It is a fairly unseasonable time of year for this happening but nobody is complaining. Heavy rains in the region have filled the Bond Springs catchment and finally the Todd is flowing. The last time this event took place was December 2012.
Alice Springs is half way between Port Augusta and Darwin on your journey with the Ghan. Along the way you’ll see spinifex plains, salt pans, amazing outback colour changes, the MacDonnell Ranges and the Top End. Not far from Alice Springs in the Red Centre, you can also visit natural wonders like Palm Valley, Ayers Rock (Uluru), The Olgas (Kata Tjuta) and Kings Canyon. Since its extension to Darwin, The Ghan has become one of the world’s greatest train journeys. Covering 2979km in 47 hours, this amazing journey can be further complimented by additional touring options in Katherine Gorge and Alice Springs. To drive this route would be arduous and not very pleasant. The train has everything from comfortable accommodation, lounges for relaxing during the day, videos and an the exclusive Queen Adelaide restaurant. This is the way to see the centre of Australia – in luxury.
Recent rain in the area means Kate and William will be among only 1 per cent of visitors who see waterfalls pouring off the surface of the rock (Uluru). The wildlife has come out to drink as the water collects and becomes a moat around the rock – it is as if this large sandstone rock has come alive. The cascades are extremely rare, as the area is normally very dry. The Mutitjulu Waterhole is full from recent rains that have greened the surrounding desert, and the base of Uluru. At sunset the rock gives a magnificent colour-changing display in the waning sunlight.
The rock is made of sandstone and is 10 kilometres in circumference and a height of 1 100 ft. (335.2 meters). It is the cultural influence and relevance which make it one of the biggest draw cards in the whole of Australia. The Anangu the traditional landowners of the area believe Uluru to be an extremely spiritual place and still believe the rock to be inhabited by dozens of ancestral spirits today. Uluru is sacred to the Anangu. The rock was named Ayers Rock in 1873 in honour of Sir Henry Ayers, the then Chief Secretary of South Australia. It is now known by its aboriginal name of Uluru.