The outback town of Alice Springs is the heart of the Red Centre and the gateway to Ayers Rock (Uluru)
, The Olgas (Kata Tjuta)
and Kings Canyon
(Watarrka). The town itself is bursting with culture and history. Take a walk down Todd Mall in the centre of town and see for yourself. There are some very impressive Aboriginal Art stores, with locally handmade crafts and souvenirs. The mall has historic buildings, a variety of shops as well as plenty of eateries.
From Anzac Hill you can enjoy a panoramic view of Alice Springs and surrounds. The town site is bordered by the beautiful MacDonnell Ranges and the view is just superb. The scenic lookout can be accessed from Wills Terrace or Schwartz Crescent in town and just a short walk takes you to the viewing platform.
The Alice Springs Reptile Centre is definitely worth a visit. As soon as we walked in we were offered a python to hold, which is a different and exciting experience. The centre has all sorts of reptiles, including lizards, snakes, goannas, thorny devils and a saltwater crocodile. You can walk around at your leisure and watch all the reptiles in action. Make sure you’re there for the presentation which is highly entertaining and in which you also get to hold lizards and a huge Olive Python if you want to. Probably best to ring ahead for times.
The Alice Springs Desert Park gives you a different perspective with the native animals in their natural habitats of desert rivers, sand country and woodland. There is a circuit to walk around the park where you can view lizards, birds, kangaroos, emus, nocturnal wildlife and more. Headsets are available to give you an informative commentary on the flora, fauna and aboriginal culture as you explore the park. If you pick a hot day make sure you take a hat and plenty of water as it gets pretty warm out there. The park sits at the foot of the MacDonnell Ranges and has a real outback feel to it.
Sightseeing and exploring the MacDonnell Ranges should be on your list of things to do while in Alice Springs. The West MacDonnell Ranges have many scenic points of interest within 130km of town and easily accessible. Simpsons Gap is a large cleft in the ranges, with enormous rock faces on either-side and renowned for being home to Black-footed Rock Wallabies. Standley Chasm is long and narrow and lights up at midday when the sun is directly overhead shining on its red walls. The plant life on the short pleasant walk includes ferns, palms and gum trees. Serpentine Gorge is narrow and winding with plenty of water holes and River Red Gums. There is also a lookout at the top of the gorge. The Ochre Pits are very striking in appearance. This quarry of various earth coloured ochre is used by the local aboriginals for paintings and traditional body painting. Ormiston Gorge is absolutely beautiful with a wide inviting swimming hole and soft sandy banks. Enthusiasts can venture further into the gorge otherwise there’s plenty of room to relax on the banks by the water. There is a visitor’s centre and facilities at this gorge. Glen Helen Gorge is a watering hole between two towering walls a short walk from Glen Helen Lodge. All walks are relatively easy and can be done in a day.
The East MacDonnell Ranges branch out to the east of Alice Springs. The road is sealed for 90km and then turns to gravel and further along four-wheel drive vehicles only. Emily Gap, Jesse Gap and Corroboree Rock are close to the road and easily accessible. Aboriginal rock art of cultural significance is evident at these sites. Four-wheel drives can access N’Dhala Gorge which features abundant Aboriginal petroglyphs or rock engravings. Trephina Gorge is a gorge of natural beauty with quartzite cliff faces, red gums and waterways. Depending on time and fitness there are walks ranging from 20 minutes to over 6 hours. Ruby Gap Nature Park is the original location of the first mining frenzy in Central Australia, where garnets believed to be rubies were found. Access is by a rugged four-wheel drive track and the area is isolated so we suggest registering with the Parks and Wildlife Commission before driving in.
Alice Springs is rich in Aboriginal culture and history and is the heart of Australia in desert country. Alice offers the outback setting with all the modern conveniences.
Click here for climate statistics for Australian locations (provided by the Bureau of Meteorology)
Destinations in the Northern Territory
Elsey National Park
Return from Alice Springs to Northern Territory