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Published on September 10th, 2012 | by john.weir

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What’s happening in the Northern Territory ?

Tours

New Stargazing Tour Sheds Light on Outback Sky

Ayers Rock Resort has introduced two new stargazing experiences for guests seeking enlightenment on the superlative southern night sky. Voyages Outback Sky Journeys will incorporate two options known as the Family Astro Tour and the Astro Tour.

Departing 30 minutes after sunset the Family Astro Tour lasts an hour and is designed for guests of all ages with limited knowledge of the universe who would like to learn more.

The Astro Tour departs two hours after sunset and lasts an hour and a quarter, delving further into the evolution of the universe with a more in-depth exploration of the southern hemisphere sky. Learn how stars are formed, why they produce light, the lifecycle of a star and the theory of “the Big Bang”.

Outback Sky Journeys will include the use of telescopes, binoculars and interactive iPads.  Both tours are priced at AU$38 (approx £25) per adult with free entry for children 15 years and under. http://www.ayersrockresort.com.au/astrotour/

Uluru by Bike…

Visitors to Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park can now experience being “High on the Hog” with Uluru Motorcycle Tours, Australia’s original Harley Davidson Motorcycle Tour company.

The unforgettable and fun-filled adventures on an authentic Harley Davidson Heritage Softail motorcycle take place throughout the day around Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). Passenger tours include Uluru Sunrise (1.5 hrs), Uluru & Kata Tjuta (2.5 hrs) and a Quick Spin (30 mins). Experienced motorcycle enthusiasts can opt for a self drive/ hire option, from two hours to a full day.

Uluru Motorcycle Tours also operate Uluru Express, a regular shuttle service from Ayers Rock Resort into Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park starting at sunrise and finishing at sunset. Tours cost from AU$95 (approx £63) per person or AU$290 (approx £193) for two hours’ motorcycle hire. www.ulurucycles.com

On Foot…

Guests of Ayers Rock Resort can share local lore handed down for over 22,000 years through ancient song, dance and story thanks to Uluru Aboriginal Tours’ Rising Sun walking tours conducted by traditional owners with the assistance of an interpreter.

The small group tour leaves the resort an hour before sunrise and is led by a local Anangu guide. Over the next six hours, the local guide will demonstrate the significance of this sacred land, teaching travellers about the Aboriginal culture, traditional bush skills and ancient legends. After an Uluru sunrise, guests will enjoy a delicious breakfast at the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre before joining their indigenous guide for an interpretive walk at the base of this ancient monolith. The Rising Sun tour is priced from AU$175 (approx £115) per person and returns to Ayers Rock Resort around midday where it concludes. www.uluruaboriginaltours.com.au http://www.ayersrockresort.com.au/indigenous-tours/

By Coach…

A range of fully escorted luxury coach tours of the Northern Territory are now available through Northern Highland Travel including the 18 day Red Centre to Top End (from AU$5,841 / approx £3,888 per person) and 10 day Red Heart (from AU$3,859 / approx £2,570 per person) for anyone wanting to explore the Red Centre in more depth.

Operated by a chef, the tours include home-made biscuits and slices. Other extras include an onboard pie warmer, fridge and barbecue to ensure legendary Australian fare is the order of the day. Tours operate on set departures throughout 2013. www.nht.com.au

Attractions

Applauded Indigenous Artist Proves a Big Draw

Tiwi Islands artist Timothy Cook has been awarded one of Australia’s most prestigious Indigenous art prizes at the 29th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award. His painting, ‘Kulama’, was selected from 63 finalists and uses natural pigments on linen, telling the story of the ceremony for coming of age, the cycle of life – initiation into Tiwi kinship.

The Telstra Art Award is the longest-running art award dedicated to the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, and has come to be regarded as one of the premier national events in the Australian Indigenous art community. The 29th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award exhibition will be on display at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, until Sunday 28 October. Artworks in this year’s exhibition will also be featured in an online gallery www.nt.gov.au/natsiaa.

Accommodation

New Alice Accommodation Offers Oasis in the Desert

A new 66-room hotel wing has opened at Lasseters Hotel Casino in Alice Springs. Stage six of an AU$35m development at Lasseters, the new accommodation opened to guests on 16th July.

The two storey hotel wing contains 66 premium rooms and suites with views of the MacDonnell Ranges and golf course at one side and the new resort pool to the other. The rooms have been designed to complement the stunning Central Australian environment and feature contemporary furnishing and ultra-modern appliances. Each room showcases original artwork from over 20 local Central Australian Indigenous artists. Ecologically sound sustainable building practises have been implemented to reduce energy consumption.

Each of the rooms boast a king bed or twin queen bed configuration, free WiFi, 42inch LCD televisions and iPod dock. There are three premium suites offering split level accommodation with the lounge and entertaining area downstairs and two separate bedrooms upstairs.

The new wing brings the total number of rooms at Lasseters to 205. The next stage of the development will see work on the new 180 seat restaurant followed by the new hotel reception, VIP gaming room and commercial gym. Rooms from AU$135 (approx £89) per night. www.lhc.com.au

Events

The Alice Desert Festival runs from August 10th to October 10th 2012, showcasing local acts and Indigenous culture. More than any other cultural event, the Alice Desert Festival defines the region’s personality and artistic spirit. Highlights include Bush Bands Business a battle of the bands style mentoring and workshop programme, a dynamic desert music event celebrating culture through contemporary rhythms. The Desert Mob Exhibition is Australia’s premiere Indigenous art survey exhibition, including Desert Mob Symposium, a vibrant programme of dance, stories, images, music and short film, and Desert Mob MarketPlace, a sprawling indoor/outdoor market selling affordable Indigenous arts and crafts from over 30 Art Centres from across the Central Australian region. The Bush Foods Recipe Competition is the chance for local amateur cooks to showcase their bush food inventions, culminating in a Bush Foods Gala Dinner. http://alicedesertfestival.com.au/

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