Northern Territory Tourism has teamed up with Qantas to offer Americans free one-way tickets to Australia’s Outback. The Fly Free to the Outback program offers free flights from Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane to Darwin, Alice Springs, or Uluru. In order to qualify, travelers must book a two-night stay in the Northern Territory from Qantas Vacations, Down Under Answers, Goway, Aspire Down Under, or About Australia.
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, a large sandstone rock formation, is Australia’s largest natural landmark. Rising 1,142 feet, the red rock is sacred to the indigenous Pitjantjatjara Anangu. The area around the rock, which is is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features numerous springs, caves, waterholes, and prehistoric paintings. Currently, Uluru is home to artist Bruce Munro’s Field of Light, a light installation with over 50,000 glowing glass bulbs.
Travelers can also visit Nitmiluk National Park, which features various gorges on the Katherine River and Edith Falls. The gorges and the landscape surrounding the park have important ceremonial significance to the indigenous Jawoyn people. In Jawoyn, Nitmiluk means "place of the cicada dreaming." The park also has waterfalls and verdant rainforests, and visitors are encouraged to view the Aboriginal rock art up close by paddle boat.
Alice Springs, the third-largest town in the Northern Territory, showcases the MacDonnell Ranges, which include numerous hiking trails and swimming holes, such as, Ormiston Gorge, Ormiston Gorge Creek, Red Bank Gorge and Glen Helen Gorge. The Larapinta Trail, which follows the West MacDonnell Ranges, has been named one of the world's most spectacular walking experiences. The Simpson Desert contains enormous red sand dunes and rock formations such as Chambers Pillar and Rainbow Valley. It is also possible to book a camel ride or a nocturnal tour of the Alice Springs Desert Park.
Alice Springs also houses many Aboriginal art galleries, which display the work of Emily Kngwarreye, Minnie Pwerle, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Albert Namatjira and Wenten Rubuntja, among others. Also, the Museum of Central Australia / Stehlow Research Centre exhibits renowned natural history and cultural materials related to the region, and the Araluen Centre for Arts and Entertainment presents local performers, as well as world-class ballets and orchestras.
The Outback, which was ranked in the twelfth spot on the New York Times’s “52 Places to Visit in 2018” list, received a record number of US tourists last year. Still, many visitors to Australia shy away from the ugged middle province, and according to Northern Territory Tourism, are “missing out on the spiritual heart of Down Under.”
In order to qualify for the free one way tickets, travelers must book by July 31 for flights through December 31.