8 amazing sensory experiences in the Red Centrefor blind or low vision travellers
The Northern Territory’s Red Centre is so much more than meets the eye. For blind and low-vision travellers, multi-sensory experiences abound, offering a unique and immersive way to discover the destination beyond sight.
Accessible travel company, Cocky Guides, design and deliver engaging sensory group tours for blind and low-vision travellers, including seasonally-led tours in Northern Territory. This list has been developed with owner James, with what he describes as sensory travel experiences: the experiences that forgo the sightseeing, and instead embrace the smells, tastes, sounds - and feelings - of the Central Australian desert.
The experiences below are usually visited as part of a Cocky Guides group tour, with transfers and additional on-ground support provided. To find out more about booking a tour, visit their website.
School of the Air
Nestled in the main township of Alice Springs, The School of The Air Visitor Centre brings to life an integral and unusual facet of the children’s lives in the Australian Outback - in a unique and fascinating sensory experience. You can learn about the 'The World's Largest Classroom' through sound, hearing stories about school from afar, life on the land, and the journeys of outback students.
The experience includes a guided multimedia presentation about the ground-breaking techniques making it possible for remote students to participate in school classes despite the challenges of time, distance and isolation.
Curtin Springs, a popular stop on the Lasseter Highway to Uluru, use native grasses to make handmade paper. Each piece is an individual, beautiful souvenir of Central Australia, showcasing the diversity of the desert landscape.
Join a tour of the paper-making process at the Old Abattoir building for a great sensory experience – touch and feel the different stages of the paper-making process on display, and hear the paper-making process explained. You can even 'pull' a piece of paper to experience how it's done!
Karrke Aboriginal Cultural Experience
At the foot of stunning Kings Canyon, in Wattarka National Park, this tour offers a sensory invitation to immerse yourself in many traditional Aboriginal practices of the local Aranda/Pertame people.
Participants can taste and feel bush tucker and bush medicine, listen to Traditional Owners explain their plant knowledge, enjoy the sounds of clap sticks and traditional instruments, and take a guided walk through the natural landscape. Conclude the tour with a smoking ceremony for a unique bush aroma.
West McDonnell Ranges on a tour
Jump on board a day tour through the West MacDonnell Ranges, through Emu Run or Autopia Tours for a great sensory travel experience. You can cool off at Ellery Creek Big Hole, one of Central Australia's largest and most beautiful swimming spots, feel the rock walls of the many gorges, feel the sand beneath your toes on a desert beach in Ormiston Gorge, and hear the sounds of the desert change as the day grows long.
If you call and book ahead, you can request an extra guide for support throughout the day, at an additional cost.
Experience the magic of the Spiritual Heart of Australia, through a guided walk around Uluru, or a walk with the Uluru Audio Guide. The Audio Guide is great for sensory travellers, providing GPS-triggered audio commentary devices for the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park - It's like having a tour guide in your pocket!
The device contains over one hundred facts and stories about the nature, history, geology and culture of the local area, and is available in 7 different languages - English, Mandarin, Japanese, French, Italian, German and Spanish. The guides are available to hire from the Tourist Information Centre in Yulara.
Anangu Cultural Storytelling
When staying at Voyages Ayres Rock Resort there are many free, immersive activities you can participate in. Learn about Australian and local bush tucker and how for many centuries local Indigenous groups would hunt, gather and prepare these bush foods. Feel and taste them as you learn.
Listen to the stories of Aboriginal culture and tradition, and to the enchanting sounds of the didgeridoo. Make sure you ask about the times for the free Cultural Experiences at reception when you check in to any accommodation at the Ayres Rock Resort!
Uluru Kata-Tjuta Cultural Centre
To understand the significance of Uluru to the local Aboriginal people and learn about the Anangu culture, a visit to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre is a must.
It’s the most comprehensive of Uluru’s cultural centres, and discusses the ongoing connection with the land which has endured until the present day – you can immerse yourself in these stories through their audio descriptions throughout the centre.
Royal Flying Doctor Service
Like the School of the Air, the Royal Flying Doctor Service is a key feature of outback life.
The museum run by this organisation, in the township of Alice Springs, is a great place to learn about the important job they do in the outback community. You can interact with the displays and exhibits – including listening to the life-size, talking hologram of founder John Flynn - and ask the friendly staff to talk you through some of the displays and explain what you are feeling with the special pedal-powered radio beneath your feet.
The Red Centre offers many immersive, sensory travel experiences – it really is different in every sense.
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