In this post I want to share our experience of visiting Kata Tjuta rock formations, also known as The Olgas, in Australia’s Red Centre with kids. Our boys were 3, 3, and 5 when we visited the Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park in Australia’s Red Centre and it was difficult to assess in advance what we could do in Kata Tjuta with such young kids. Hence this post – to help other people plan their family trip to Australia’s Red Centre and visit Kata Tjuta with kids.
Our visit to Outback Australia made me realise how strong our little boys are. We left for this trip thinking ‘we’ll just try and see how it goes’ and we ended up doing so much more than we had ever expected! I already shared our experience at West MacDonnell Ranges and Gorges with kids where we visited some amazing places we’ve never heard of before… One by one stunning places, but if I were to pick just one absolute favourite place in Australia’s Red Centre, it would be Kata Tjuta.
Probably the best way to explore Australia’s Red Centre is hiking. What you see from the road and the parking areas is just a small part of the real beauty which is hidden deeper inside the gorges. We couldn’t go hiking in Kata Tjuta as much as we would have wanted, but it was more related to the heat than to the fact that we were traveling with young children. Our little boys proved that you can take your with kids anywhere in the world and explore beyond what you ever thought was possible!
Kata Tjuta – our favourite place in Central Australia
While Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock, is one of the most recognisable natural landmarks in the world, only few people have ever heard of Kata Tjuta.
Also known as the Olgas, Kata Tjuta are spectacular rock formations in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, just 45 minutes drive from Uluru. They are less known and less visited than Ayers Rock, but in a way they are more special and more impressive. The Olgas are a group of large domed rock formations that color bright red in the midday sun and the view changes constantly as you approach these amazing rocks. They look so different from far and from close-by! Don’t miss Kata Tjuta if you are traveling to the area!
There are lots of beautiful hikes at Kata Tjuta and while most of them aren’t strenuous all, they can become practically not doable in the desert heat, with or without kids. The starting points of some of the walks get closed at 9-10AM already, so if you want to hike, you have to start very early in the morning.
What to see and do in Kata Tjuta with kids
Kata Tjuta dune viewing area
We started our day at Kata Tjuta dune viewing area. Located halfway along the road from Uluru to Kata Tjuta, this short easy wheelchair-accessible walk offers magnificent panoramic views of the Olgas. It’s one of the best places to see the sun rise early in the morning.
We were there in the morning and the views were amazing. Were it not for the flies, we would have stayed longer.
Walpa Gorge Walk, Kata Tjuta with kids
We chose Walpa Gorge walk because it’s one of the easiest walks in the area and also one of the most impressive ones. I’ll never forget walking within the sheer walls of these giant rocks and being a tiny part of this colossal landscape!
One of our younger boys had a tantrum at a car park and didn’t want to get out of the car, but the moment he saw his brothers running in the direction of the giant red domes, he forgot what he was being difficult about and followed them.
The kids really enjoyed this walk and we had difficulties trying to keep up with them. Luckily, you can’t really go wrong, so we didn’t have to worry too much about losing the boys out of sight.
We were prepared to carry the kids at some point, but it wasn’t necessary – they could do the Walpa Gorge walk all by themselves.
Walpa Gorge walk practical info: This is an easy 2,6km, 1 hour return walk. It took us exactly one hour indeed and we made lots of photo stops, so the time indications are really generous in Australia’s Red Centre.
The Valley of the Winds Walk
The Valley of the Winds Walk is the most beautiful hike in Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park. It’s not a very difficult walk, but it’s rather long and the part behind Karu Lookout gets closed at around 9-10AM on the very hot days (which was also the case when we visited).
By the time we got to the starting place for this walk, the temperatures were unbearable and we decided that the kids had done enough hiking for the day. So my husband stayed in the airconditioned car where the four of them had lunch, and I decided to do a part of the walk, up to Karu Lookout. The views at the end of this walk were absolutely breathtaking and really worth the little effort.
The Valley of the Winds Walk practical info: The whole walk is a round trip of 7km, 4 hours. If you don’t want to do the whole walk or if the part of it is closed, you can opt to hike up to Karu Lookout, which is 2,2km 1 hour return. I did this short walk on my own in about half an hour.
Sunset viewing area at Kata Tjuta
This is the perfect place for a picnic any time of the day or to watch the sunset in the evening. You can find bathroom facilities and drinking water here as well.
Practical tips and advice for Uluru – Kata Tjuta National Park
First, some background information. We were visiting Australia’s Red Centre with kids in the first week of November and it was very hot. Daytime temperatures exceeded 40°C (104°F) and one could only do sightseeing early in the morning. Second, there were swarms of flies. They were everywhere: on the face, the lips, inside the nose and the ears. That’s something you don’t see on postcards or in the travel brochures…
So here are some tips for visiting Kata Tjuta
- Go as early in the morning as you possibly can. All you can do in the afternoon, is lay by the pool.
- Bring a mosquito head net with you. You can buy them in the area too, at about six times the regular price, but by the time you realise you need one, you are nowhere near the living world or shops… So better take one from home. We didn’t know this and didn’t have a head net with us and it was really unbearable with moments.
- Bring lots and lots and lots of water and some snacks. You should count at least one liter of water per person per hour when visiting Australia’s Red Centre.
TIP: We found a great way to keep the water cold during the day in the extreme temperatures. In the evening, we placed the water bottles inside the freezer so it was frozen by the time we left our hotel in the morning. The water would gradually defrost during the day and we always had some cold refreshing water with us.
- Make sure you are well-protected against the sun. You should wear long-sleeved shirts, a sun hat, sunglasses and don’t forget the sunscreen SPF 50+.
- Closed sturdy footwear is recommended as you will have to negotiate some loose rocks when hiking in the area.
If you enjoyed reading this post, check out the other posts about our Australia trip.
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