The Northern Territory’s Red Centre is Australia’s beating heart. So where better to give your heart a bit of a jolt, to let your stomach flip, to feel your feet lift off the ground, and your mind fill with wonder?

I recently jet-setted down to The Northern Territory’s Red Centre in search of dazzling sand dunes, wide-open skies, and an adrenaline ruuushhhhh. And they all came at me in abundance. 

Whether using two legs, four wheels or even a few propellers, here are five adrenaline-pumping adventures I can attest will get your heart racing in The Red Centre. 


1. Helicopter Flight Over Kings Canyon

Helicopters are a guaranteed way to up your heart rate in a matter of seconds. And the flight over Kings Canyon and the George Gill Ranges is no exception. In fact, this flight made my heart flutter in more ways than one. 

As the ground drops away, the sheer scale of the landscape around you, and just how far and wide it extends, will have your mouth agape. Somehow the desert that goes on and on and on in every direction dwarfs Kings Canyon, the crowning jewel in George Gill Range.

At your highest ascent, the silhouettes of Uluṟu and Kata Tjuṯa over 100km away are visible on the horizon. If you’re lucky (sort of), your pilot will twist and turn the heli as you search the ground below for herds of camels or wild brumby before taking you over ‘the big drop off’ where your stomach will surely leap into your throat (mine certainly did!).

Don’t expect your heart to stop fluttering for a few minutes even once both your feet are securely back on red dirt. 

2. E-Biking to Simpsons Gap in The West MacDonnell Ranges

Tjoritja National Park AKA the West MacDonnell Ranges forms part of the Arrente people’s caterpillar Dreaming story, and once you know this, it’s impossible to unsee the creeping crawlies making their way across the landscape.

The humpy, meandering ridgeline makes its way west out of Alice Springs, with endless rivers and creeks cutting through it, some of them holding freshwater idyllic for swimming, others creating sandy gaps in the red quartzite cliffs where water runs after heavy downpours. 

Read more: Did You Know You Can Trail Run in the Red Centre?

One of these is Simpsons Gap, arguably the most imposing gap in the entire range, and it’s only a 20km bike ride from Alice Springs Desert Park. 



The best way to get there under your own steam (while still having the strength to admire the view) is on an e-bike! We ventured out with Luke from Outback Cycling, who takes small groups on a two-hour ride to Simpsons Gap, arriving in time to catch the striking bluffs as they’re lit up by the setting sun. 

Every time the motor kicked in it gave my heart (and the bike) a little jolt. If you’ve never ridden an e-bike before (hello, me), this is a fabulous first way to do it. The path is paved the entire way making it an exciting but manageable ride and you feel like you’re peddling through an Albert Natmijira painting. 

Your heart and mind can rest easy knowing you don’t have to make your way back in the dark, as Luke will escort you back to town in his adapted commuter bus.

3. Hike the Kings Canyon Rim Walk

Few hikes in The Red Centre get your heart pumping as quickly as the Kings Canyon Rim Walk. The 6km trek that circles the sheer walls of the canyon begins with an enlivening clamber up around 500 stairs to the top of the George Gill Range.



But if you head out for sunrise as we did, you’ll be gifted with scenes of first light hitting the surrounding ridgelines and slowly descending down the cliff faces – a fabulous excuse for a breather and snap of the camera. 

But the thrills and spectacles don’t stop here (the worst of the ascent is over though!). Now that you’ve made it to the roof of the range, the trail meanders between the bulging domes, the result of millions of years of erosion. 

Around halfway, the trail descends into The Garden of Eden, an oasis amongst the somewhat harsh surrounds, where you’ll be delighted to discover greenery and freshwater holes that help sustain life out here. You’re welcome to splash your face, but no swimming is allowed here as it’s a precious water source for the local wildlife.

The last half of the trail presents you with the panorama that Kings Canyon is renowned for – the unique pale, sheer cliff faces where boulders the size of houses have tumbled into the chasm below, leaving a perfect cross-section of rock. 

4. 4WD to Palm Valley

The drive into Finke Gorge National Park had us playing corners in the backseat of the car. From sliding over sandy creek beds to dropping down, up, and over boulders, venturing to Palm Valley in Finke Gorge National Park is an adventure in itself and not to be attempted by those without a bit of previous 4WDing experience. 

Read more: Palm Valley is Where The Red Centre Meets the Tropics

But if you’re desperate to get out to this lesser-known wonder and don’t have the experience (or car) to do so, John from Alice Springs Expeditions will be more than stoked to guide you. He kindly toured us around his backyard with such pride!

The second half of the adventure involves hiking through the unique landscape of Palm Valley and marvelling at the mystery of how dozens of Livistonia mariae AKA Central Australian Cabbage Palms, found their way to this desert gorge (and have managed to thrive there for millions of years). 

Take the 2km loop track up along the top of the gorge before descending and returning back through between the maroon walls. Lap up the quiet serenity of this hard-to-reach park for a little longer and pitch your tent at the luscious Palm Valley Campground, situated alongside the Finke River itself. Who would’ve expected hot showers out here hey?

5. Drive Buggies at Kings Creek Station

If you’ve got the need for speed (y’know, besides flying down the Stuart Highway at 130 clicks an hour) the buggy tour at Kings Creek Station will scratch your itch and leave you in hysterics. 

Grab a few mates, don your headgear, and strap yourselves in for two hours of dusty thrills as you whip around the rocky creek beds and red dirt trails of the 2,200 square kilometre Kings Creek Station (pssst, that’s about the size of the ACT). Once you get your courage up and eye in, you’ll hit up to 50km an hour and that red dust will find its way into every pore, crack, and crevice. 

We were led around by one of the friendly on-site staff, who guided us to some of the historical and scenic spots on the property, pointing out dingoes and other wildlife on the way.

There are three tours a day – 10am, 2pm and 4pm for sunset. The sunset tour concludes at Sunset Lookout with canapés and a bottle of champers where you’ll toast to rippin’ good times while donning your very own outback tan.

Isn’t it time you got your heart racing? These adventures are the perfect addition to a trip along the Red Centre Lights Trail


Amy was a guest of NT Tourism and got to experience all of these adventures herself.