Located in the centre of the continent, Alice Springs is the city in the Outback. The area is known as the “Red Centre” of Australia and is surrounded by the MacDonnell Ranges and the red sand deserts stretch outward for hundreds of kilometres in every direction. Alice Springs has a rich Aboriginal history and culture that still exists today. The Arrernte Aboriginal people have lived in this region for at least 30,000 years. Learning about the traditions and history is an integral part of visiting “The Alice”, as it is known to locals; named after Alice Todd, wife of Australia’s former Postmaster General of South Australia, Sir Charles Todd.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
The springs that are the namesake of Alice Springs Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Car Hire in Alice Springs
Alice Springs is situated on the southern border of the Northern Territory. It is known as the gateway to Uluru, Kata Tjuta National Park, and any other destinations in the remote terrain of the Northern Territory. Hiring a car in Alice Springs will allow you to explore the mountains, desert, and travel to see Uluru, also known as Ayer’s Rock located in the Kata Tjutu National Park. Keep in mind that a 4WD vehicle will be necessary and you should consult with our car rental agents to learn about safety tips for driving in the Northern Territory. Keep in mind that driving outside the city limits is restricted to daylight hours, so plan your trip accordingly.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Google Maps
Photo Credit: Viator.com
Things to do in Alice Springs and Surrounds
Alice Springs might be remote, but there is no lack of fun, interesting, and exciting things to do here in the Outback. The most famous destination for the area is Uluru, revered as a sacred place by the Aboriginal people and home to spectacular views of the monolith, cave paintings, and hot springs. Since we already featured Uluru as its own feature blog post already, we won’t go into much detail about that here. Instead, this post features 10 more things to do in Alice Springs:
1. Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre
You can spend a whole day touring here or just visit for a few hours. The centre is entirely owned and run by the Aboriginal people. View the art, listen to the music of the Didgeridoo, and learn about the culture and history of the people who have lived here for thousands of years.
Photo Credit: Australia.com
The Larapinta Trail is one of the reasons that hikers and trekkers come to the area. The challenging walking track runs through the Alice Springs surrounds through the West MacDonnell mountain ranges and West MacDonnell National Park. If you don’t feel up for hiking the entire 223 km, there are 12 sections of the trail and guided walking tours are available. Along the way, there are several notable attractions that you can look out for:
- Finke River
- Simpsons Gap
- Standley Chasm
- Ellery Creek Bighole
- Serpentine Gorge
- Ochre Pits
- Ormiston Poud
- Redbank Gorge
- Glen Helen Gorge
3. Camel Riding
Photo Credit: CamelTracks.com
Camel riding tours are one of the signature events that visitors to Alice Springs consider one of those “must do things” on their itinerary. Trekking through the desert near Alice Springs with the backdrop of the mountains nearby is definitely an experience to remember. The guided camel tours are available for different times of the day and can be customized for groups so that the experienced tour guides can impart their knowledge of the area, camels, and cultural history to you.
4. Outback Safari Adventures
Photo Credit: AussieGetaways.com.au
There are a variety of outback safari tours that you can choose from. Some include camping while some allow you to explore the rugged terrain but sleep in the comfort of a hotel room each night. Some tours are round trip back to Alice Springs, while others can take you to the top end and visit Darwin or Kakadu National Park in the northern part of the Northern Territory. Some tours are 4WD, some are self-driving, and some are hiking tours. You get to choose the one that suits your needs.
5. Alice Springs Desert Park
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Alice Springs Desert Park is an excellent place to visit to learn about the plants and animals that are native to the desert region. They specialize in educating the public about the animals and resources in the desert and specialize in conservation education. As with most places in the Red Centre, the park is important to the Arrernte people. Part of the educational shows at the park also includes a look into the history and culture of the Traditional Custodians of the park and the land.
6. Alice Springs Reptile Centre
Photo Credit: ReptileCentre.com.au
Located just 10 minutes south of Alice Springs is this centre that is devoted to the indigenous reptiles of the region. The aim of the Reptile Centre is to build awareness and allow interaction with the reptiles they have on site with hands on interactions, daily shows, and informative talks. The centre boasts an amazing collection including Terry the Saltwater Crocodile, HUGE Perentie Goannas, Thorny Devils, Frill-neck Lizards and many other fascinating lizards including a varied selection of NT Geckos from the Alice Springs region, Barkly and the Top End on display in the amazing Gecko Cave.
7. Olive Pink Botanic Garden
Photo Credit: OPBG.com.au
Located on 16 hectares of land outside of Alice Springs is this once private garden founded by Olive Pink. The gardens opened to the public in 1985 and provide a safe haven for native flora of the central region of Australia to grow and thrive. Visitors can see the beauty of the plants and flowers and learn about them during the walking tours or self-guided tours of the gardens. Olive Pink Botanic Garden is home to over 600 central Australian plants; 40 of which are rare or threatened species.
8. Finke Gorge National Park
Photo Credit: AustraliasOutback.com
Finke Gorge National Park is a wonderful day trip destination from Alice Springs. It is 160 km to the southwest and the drive must be done on a 4WD vehicle. The park is most well-known for Palm Valley, a stretch of the desert that is shaded and protects groves of rare red cabbage palm trees that have been in the region since it was a lush tropical forest. The Finke River is believed to be one of the oldest rivers in the world. Bush walking, biking, camping, and hiking trails are popular activities in the park.
9. Kings Canyon in Watarrka National Park
Photo Credit: Wilipedia
Kings Canyon is located within the Watarrka National Park and is one of the biggest draws of the region. There are 4 main trails in the park so hikers, mountain climbers, and bikers have a variety of choices to explore. Erosion has built the canyon over millions of years and the walls are over 100 metres high. Helicopter, camel ride, and quad tours are also available if you are not up for hiking or walking. Camping is not allowed within the park, but campsites and other hotel accommodations are available just outside of the park grounds.
10. Rainbow Valley
Photo Credit: AustraliasOutback.com
Rainbow Valley is another magnificent place to visit that is a easy day trip from Alice Springs. The sandstone cliffs were coloured by water, which is a constant reminder of the changing landscape of Australia overtime. Thousands of years ago, the desert land of central Australia was tropical in nature. When planning your visit to the park, you should definitely plan on being there during at least one sunrise or sunset because the light play on the bluffs is most spectacular during those times. There are plenty of places to explore in the valley, there is the Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve, and evidence of aboriginal history of the area.