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Roadtrip – The Northern Territory


 ©Kara Rosenlund

Thought I would share my latest road trip with you, straight down the centre of the Northern Territory, Australia…. I couldn’t believe how fast and dramatic the landscape changed along the three day journey….. I have always wanted to visit the NT and of course Uluru, though flying into Alice Springs and driving out just didn’t feel right for me, I wanted a longer journey which made the reward – being Uluru, feel deserved….. If you have the chance to make the trip I would strongly recommend the drive from Darwin. There is just something silencing about a road trip; you set off with your head ablaze with city stresses and before long the landscape dissolves all the pressures….today’s post is a lengthy one, make yourself a cuppa and settle in….


 … I arrived in Darwin and was welcomed by the winter heat in the air… I was keen to hit the road, so I headed straight out of Darwin down the Stuart Highway to Katherine for the night…. watching the landscape change in the light as I drove…



 … passed many a ‘road train’ on the highway; some of the longest I have ever seen with numerous dogs – dogs is trucker talk for trailers – impressed? Some empty, some full of cattle. I found the truck drivers to be very considerate on the road, indicating and waving when it was safe to overtake and giving a friendly ‘Hoy’ hello when passing in the opposite direction, in actual fact there was so much ‘hoying’ happening on the highway my index fingers were feeling the strain of the kindness….




 …. what I love most about road tripping is when you see something you want to take a shot of or take a closer look at you just can pull over – hence this herd of curious brahman lining the highway in parts…. 




 … driving into Katherine on dusk; the ghost gums almost glowed against the back burnt scrub…



… and then on to Tennant Creek…. old gems like these make my heart sing; original old establishments lost in time…


 … back on the road for sunrise…. watching the electric colours of the dry grass alight whizz by, framed by the car window….






 … I like looking out for quirky things along the way; something unexpected, something that makes you realise that within the vast open country activity is happening…






  … then after three days of driving the colour palette of the land intensified and I realised I was in the heart of Australia, in the red desert… I had arrived…


 … I was very fortunate to stay at Longitude 131; I had always wanted to stay here, for years and years. I would see shots in magazines of the luxury tents nestled in the sand dunes of the desert and rip out the pages and stick them onto my mood boards. Their timeless nature really stayed with me, immersed in the wilderness with views of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. I had promised myself that if I ever had the chance to make the journey to Uluru I would make the most of it by staying at Longitude 131… who wouldn’t want to wake up to Uluru…


… each tent plays a visual narrative; homage to a notable pioneering Australian who has had a significant impact and challenged Australia’s vast interior; either through exploration, anthropology or indigenous rights, including Edward John Eyre, John O’Hara Bourke and William John Wills, John McDouall Stuart, Ernest Giles, William Christie Goss, Sir Sydney Kidman, John Flynn, Jane Webb, Bill Harney, Len Tuit, EJ Connellan, Ian and Lyn Conway, Peter Severin, Olive Pink and Bill King… impressive line up…



 … the interiors of the each of the tents are very considered…. lots of framed handwritten letters and paper ephemera matching the unique person of whom the tent is named. This particular tent was named after Ernest Giles, the Australian explorer…. and given the style and layout of Longitude 131 you really feel as though you are a little bit of an explorer – discovering the undiscovered…


… nothing was overlooked at Longitude 131.... even the colour palette of the furnishing and linens were indigenous of the landscape, with rust reds and burnt browns… and don’t even get me started on the tent’s fabric canopy ….. I couldn’t take my eyes off it….




 … complete with a little writing nook… where I wrote some of the post from…



… I loved how at one the tents are with the landscape; no bright colours to distract your eye; just calm colours of the area…




… I also stayed in the Pink tent; named after the illustrator, anthropologist and indigenous activist Olive Pink who lived in the Northern Territory. This is one of her hand written letters, sent with string and a wax seal no less…..  however beautiful these letters appeared they were often politically fierce…






 … upon evening turndown hot water bottles were placed under these beautiful blankets…the temperature sure does drop after sunset…


 … even a pool to cool off those desert winds…


 … after settling into Longitude 131 it was time to explore Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and get ready for sunset…




…While waiting for the light to become just right at Uluru, Longitude 131 catered at every stop with delicious local produce such as canapés of salted murray cod with pretty pink beetroot and more, indicative of the surrounding colours…


 … I wasn’t really expecting the vibrant colours of the native flora, at every turn, like a colourful carpet…. 




  … then it happened….being up so close to Uluru was such a surreal experience… I suppose when you are familiar with a particular visual through postcards and television it is easy to become nonchalant; however nothing prepared me for how I would feel in the presence of Uluru, the true emotion of it all… it took my breath away, no words. I just stood and inhaled it all, couldn’t take my eyes away for a second at the thought I would miss a subtle change in light or colour….


  … surprisingly it was actually lightly raining and there was heavy cloud cover which prevented a blazing sunset, though I was actually really happy to see a ‘cooler’ toned Uluru, with blues, magentas and purples in the shadows…  in any conditions I think Uluru comes to life… everything feels insignificant in it’s presence…


 …. then back at Longitude 131 each meal was such an opportunity to get excited… breakfast, lunch, dinner, such an array of local, greater local and seasonal produce ….


 … the Smoked Murray Cod in Paperbark was a favourite; accompanied with crispy leaves and the delightfully humble choko….


 … Hervey Bay Scallops with Sea Urchin Butter and Lavender…. so pretty…


  … have you even seen a more beautiful House Salad….  


 … the spectacular Native Plate with Davidson Plums, Lemon Myrtle Leaves, Quandongs, Reberries, Quandong Seeds and Finger Limes, on a bed of Paperbark…  



 … I really wanted to see Uluru and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) by air to really understand the full scale of the area and the park… the aerial gives another dimension to the vastness….



… Kata Tjuta…


 … then on the last day I decided to visit one last time and capture Uluru in full sun before I left…




…. the aerials going over the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales were like nothing I had seen before…. so graphic and almost illustrated….. rivers and waterholes beneath….. so beautiful….

… and then before I knew it I was back at home, missing the NT badly.

K x

34 Comments to “Roadtrip – The Northern Territory”

  1. So beautiful Kara – those tents look other worldly. Loved your images too – so rich in colour, beauty and depth. Kept thinking I had found a favourite and then I would scroll some more and I would find another fav. Would definitely love to venture that way oneday! Rx

    • Oh Rachael,the tents were magic – everything at Longitude was magic! You would love it out there; so inspiring and the colours, oh, the colours – out of this world! x

  2. Absolutely magnificent Kara. I grew up in the Territory, and you have truly captured its essence. If I might ask, where did you get your travel bag, the one on the desk?

    • Did you Megan – what an amazing childhood you must of had! The travel bag is actually my camera bag; if you google Billingham Bag you will find them. A classic English photographers bag. There are a couple of models you could use an overnight bag! I use mine all the time and it still looks news – hard wearing fabric and realy well made! x

  3. wow! you took me very far away for a few minutes…thanks for sharing this amazing experience and those breathtaking images xx

  4. I grew up in far west Texas in the US and that first photo is so much like my childhood views from a car.
    Thank you for sharing a view of Australia through your lens. I look forward to seeing your posts each time! This is beautiful as always.

  5. Thank you for sharing your magnificent experience. Going around Australia is on my bucket list. The photography captured the essence of your journey and your words enhanced the experience of the outback with a lovely touch of luxury.

  6. You took my breath away with your stunning photos, I'm speechless, Australia, a magnificent country, magnificent photos, thank you for sharing

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Kara Rosenlund is an Australian photographer, stylist, storyteller, adventurer and author.

Her love for authenticity and adventure is celebrated through her photography. She is passionate about Australia and how we all live within its vast landscape. Kara photographs and shares her visual stories from her adventures, inspired by the everyday people and landscapes she encounters.

Her first hardcover interiors book, Shelter - How Australians Live, will be published in October, 2015.

Above all else Kara is a lover of all things real. She shares her humble life through her Blog, Facebook and Instagram.

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