Tracks in the sand, Northern Territory, Australia. Photo: Scott Sporleder, Matador

Nature & Wildlife, Uluru & surrounds

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The ancient rock formations of Central Australia may steal the headlines, but look a little closer and you'll find a world of rare beauty and colour. Iconic mammals, rare birds and brilliant wildflowers flourish in this rugged and beautiful desert region.

Rock icons

The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is home to hundreds of native flora species. Star attractions include native fuschia (mintjingka), red river gums, and of course the bright pink flowers of the showy foxtail, or Alputati in Anangu language.

Icons of the Australian bush – kangaroos, emus, dingoes and wallabies – roam wild on the red desert sands, providing plenty of photographic moments. Aboriginal culture lives large around Uluru and the rufous hare wallaby is believed to embody the spirit of the Mala, ancient ancestors of the Anangu people.

From spiky to crikey!

Often seen out sunning themselves, Red Centre reptiles range from the small and spiky thorny devil (ngiyari) to the perentie (ngintaka), the world's second largest lizard at two and a half metres long. There are also 13 species of snakes, two of which are non-venomous – so that's good.

Splendid

Keep an eye skyward for the brown falcon and Australian kestrel, or closer to the ground where you'll find the singing honeyeater, the rare scarlet-chested parrot, and the aptly named 'splendid fairywren'. Hosting over 170 species, the Uluru region is a genuine birding paradise.

Find a euro or two

Watarrka National Park north-east of Uluru is an area of great environmental significance. The rugged terrain of Kings Canyon is home to over 600 species of native plants and trees, from desert oaks and grevilleas to cypress pines and brilliant wildflowers.

See a euro (a cross between a wallaby and a kangaroo) out foraging for food or a peregrine falcon soaring high over the canyon walls. Journey to the base of Kings Canyon and discover a lush pocket of cool waterholes and dense palm ferns in the 'Garden of Eden'.

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