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The Red Center?

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Last Oct. I posted a very general inquiry about planning a 4 to 6 week whistlestop tour of Australia and New Zealand: http://www.fodors.com/community/australia-the-pacific/australia-new-zealand-2017.cfm

We're now in the winnowing, combined with detailed planning, stage. It looks like we'll be going mid Sept thru mid Oct. this year, so we need to get on the ball.

We know we just want to concentrate on a few places, hang about for a few days each then fly to the next, likely (in this order) the red center (because that's so different from our US & Canadian pacific northwest), a peek at Sydney & Melbourne for cities, Tasmania (to where one of my ancestors had been transported and to see the flora/fauna), someplace on the NZ South Island (Dunedin area? Milford Sound area? Picton area? - we'll pick one later), and Auckland and maori areas on the north island (visiting a good friend). We'll gradually ask specific questions about each in separate posts. But right now we're interested in focusing the red center (and to a lesser degree,the general trip outline).

The Red Center

We're a bit lost on how to conceptualize that, so ask for your thoughts.

Duration there: roughly 3 to 5 days plus or minus. Likely mid Sept. (unless others suggest differently). Budget: hmmm, moderate, whatever that means. The 2 of us are young fit 72 yo's, not really into budget hosteling or camping (although we have done that and could do so), nor are we interested in luxury. We usually travel independently, and dislike large tours (but may enjoy a small group - at least some of the time - especially if the guide was educational and fun). We would definitely be hiking and being active. I'm not adverse to almost any temperature (adapt from very cold to very hot), but DW wilts when it gets hot.

We'd want to experience Uluru, Kings Canyon, or whatever you suggest to get quick feel for the red center (realizing that in the short time it will just be superficial glance).

First off: in the red center: self drive, or commercial transport, or decent small tour? We've looked at lots of the things on the web and am uncertain. Any of those 3 have benefits and drawbacks (and at the prices listed on the web, likely we'll have to go to the slightly lower side of moderate). Your thoughts and experiences?

Second: round trip or one way between Alice Springs and Uluru?

Third: thoughts about transport? Sort of leaning toward either self drive or small group tour that offers lots of time to explore places.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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