What To Do In Alice Springs
Alice Springs is a unique town, close to the geographical centre of Australia. It is known for being a must visit for anyone wanting to explore the culture and life behind the Australian outback. Whilst the town of Alice Springs, known to the locals as just ‘Alice’, is not that large, with a population of only 23,000, it is a hub for exploring some of Australia’s most iconic sights. Many tourists will stay in Alice Springs for a few nights, and use it as a base to venture out and explore such sights as Uluru, the MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon, Devils Marbles and more.
Alice Springs and surrounding areas are also known for being some of the best places to explore Australia's Aboriginal culture, including stunning Aboriginal art. A trip to the outback wouldn't be complete without a stop in Alice Springs. When you’re on your tour throughout the Australian Outback, remember to soak in the best of Alice Springs and surrounds. For inspiration on how to get the most out of your trip, read on below.
It would be wrong to visit the Australian outback without stopping past Uluru. Also known as Ayers Rock, this world heritage-listed sight is an iconic part of the Australian landscape. Uluru’s natural formation is an incredible sight, unrivalled by anything else in the world. However it is not just a feat of nature, it is also a highly spiritual place to Australia’s Indigenous people.
To truly be able to take in the spectacular nature of Uluru, and to feel connected to its history, the Uluru Base Walk is highly recommended. Don’t think the 9.4km walk would be boring, as all around Uluru there is evidence of its vast history. Take a guided tour with an elder to hear about its history and significance to the Aboriginal people, or walk along at your own pace. But please, do not climb Uluru, it is considered highly offensive to the Aboriginal people, and there are much better ways to appreciate the area.
Don’t forget to visit the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre. This is a terrific starting point, particularly if you have little prior knowledge about Australia's Aboriginal history. Here you will learn about Aboriginal culture and history, as well as witness some of Australia’s finest art. The perfect place to pick up a unique souvenir.
The Larapinta Trail is quickly establishing itself as one of the top trails in Australia and beyond. The trail begins near Alice Springs, with many options for getting there, and continues for a whopping 223 kms. Don’t fear if you're a casual walker, as the trail is divided into 12 sections, each ranging in level of difficulty, starting at a four hour easy level walk through section 10. If you’re a real beginner and even this scares you, don’t let that stop you, this trail is frequently walked by school kids. As long as you bring along a giant water-bottle you will be okay.
And trust me, it is worth it. This trail gives a real glance into the Australian Outback. It isn’t just desert, instead a stunning array of mountains, unique fauna and flora, and river valleys running across the entire way. And it is actually section 10, the most accessible for a day walk, where you can see some of the best sights, including Ormiston Gorge, with a beautiful waterhole, showing the less often seen side of the Australian Outback.
Kings Canyon is part of the sprawling Watarrka National Park. It is formed by sandstone walls and rocky mountains that have been there for as long as aboriginal history remembers. The most popular way to take in the sights is the six kilometre rim walk. Although it sounds like a task, the views you get to see definitely make it worthwhile. There is also a shorter Kings Creek Walk, around the base, still allowing for breathtaking views.
Don’t worry is walking is not your thing. You can also take a helicopter tour around the national park, including Kings Canyon, to see this majestic sight from above. For those with a sense of direction, why not hop on the back of a camel and have them show you around?
It might also be worth staying a night, as there is no better view of the stars than what you can see in the outback. The lack of pollution allows for clear skies and impressive stargazing.
The MacDonnell Ranges are split into the West Ranges and the East Ranges. Each side continues for over 150 kms throughout the Australian outback. They are called the East and West Ranges due to being parallel mountain ranges, on both the East and West side of Alice Springs.
The West MacDonnell Ranges make for a slightly more popular tourist attraction, due to the Larapinta Trail running through them, as well as many beautiful natural water holes to cool off in. However each trail includes many popular attractions and beautiful natural features in the landscape. Wherever you choose to visit, you are sure to be overwhelmed by their beauty.
The features of the MacDonnell Ranges have been used as inspiration in Aboriginal Art for thousands of years, so you might recognise some sights when visiting.
The Devils Marbles are a little out of the way from Alice Springs, but don’t worry. All of our outback tours stop by, because it is definitely a sight to see. Even if you have limited time, consider our 6 Day Darwin to Alice Springs Tour, so you get the sights of Alice Springs, but it doesnt let your time limit stop you from seeing the iconic Devils Marbles.
And they are a sight to see. The Devils Marbles are a rock formation of giant boulders, running throughout a wide valley. The unique thing about them is that they are all round granite boulders, somehow lying all together, with some even stacked upon each other. It is hard to believe that these are naturally formed this way, but they are.
Due to the large amount of Marbles, and their crazy formation, they are an immensely popular attraction. Photos can not fully capture what they are like, due to appearing different from each angle, and the unique shape of each rock. They range between 50 cm to 6 meters in size.
Alice Springs Desert Park
The Alice Springs Desert Park is a stunning way to get to experience what the outback is really about. The park lets you experience the natural fauna and flora that make up the Australian landscape. The park even allows you to get up close to Australian animals, a unique and special experience.
It is split into three sections, each demonstrating different Australian desert landscapes; sand country, desert rivers and woodlands. Each landscape gives an insight into different varieties of Australian wildlife. One of the best sights to see is the Nature Theatre presentation. Demonstrating birds of prey, and their natural hunting instincts, it's like a David Attenborough documentary in real life.
Their official slogan is ‘see the desert come alive’. With their range of experiences, and ability to connect with nature this is certainly true. An easy way to discover what makes the Australian desert a unique and special place.
Rainbow Valley has an appropriate name, as its most known for its colourful rock formations. It is easy to get there from Alice Springs, but make sure you pay attention to what time you go, or stay there for a day. The colours of the rocks are heavily affected by the sky and sun, making for an impressive sight.
Not only the natural colours of the rocks impressive, but Rainbow Valley is also an important sight for aboriginal history. The rocks are abundant with carving and art, considered highly important and sacred to the community. With a bit of research you can discover these yourself and appreciate their meaning, or go on a tour with an expert, or even an aboriginal elder, for an insightful and special lesson.
Aboriginal Art Galleries
Not an exact location, but scattered throughout Alice Springs, including at many of the other attractions mentioned, Aboriginal Art Galleries are a must visit when travelling in Australia. Aboriginal Art is like no other in the world, and has achieved recognition at an international level. Most art galleries will not just display art, but they will give the visitor an insight into its origins and history.
You will normally be able to meet an artist or two, as they are often very involved in the entire process of the art, not just the creation. Some galleries will even have educations into how the art is created, even letting you see it happen, or have a go with the techniques yourself.
We have already discussed the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre at Uluru, but there are also some stunning galleries in Alice Springs itself. Mbantua Gallery is located in the township of Alice Springs, making it easy to access, and features over 200 local artists. There is also the unmissable Araluen, a series of small galleries and performance centres, noted for their focus on contemporary art. Not just these galleries, there are many more, so don’t limit yourself, wonder into any you see, you never know what you will find.
Alice Springs School Of The Air Visitor Centre
Known as ‘the world's largest classroom’, Alice Springs School of the Air, is a resource to help with education for children in Australia’s isolated communities. They work by providing lessons with satellite broadcasting to children living in remote areas.
Their visitors centre was established to give visitors from Australia and around the world an insight into life for children in remote areas. It has become on of Alice Springs most popular tourist attractions, as it shows a side of life most people do not usually see. When visiting you get to see what the lessons are like, how communication occurs across thousands of kms, and the innovative technology they use.
So Come Visit
It’s clear by now that Alice Springs is more than just a small rural town. From the different cultures and lifestyles you can see throughout the town, to the unreal natural landscapes just outside, visiting Alice Springs is an opportunity that can not be missed. If you have more time for a full tour into all there is to see in the Australian outback, join us on our 13 Day Adelaide to Darwin Adventure. For those with less time, you can get almost just as much out of our 10 Day Darwin to Adelaide Tour. We can promise that everyone travelling with us will get an unforgettable tour through the amazing sights of the Australian outback.