The third largest town in the Northern Territory, Alice Springs is the gateway to the Central Australian outback. Teeming with accommodation, dining, and sightseeing options, as well as a rich cultural heritage, “The Alice” as most people would call it, is a must-visit if you want to experience first-hand the adventures and challenges presented by the vast Australian desert.
Tourism is a major industry in Alice Springs. Since the 1980s, people have been flocking to this rugged, no-frills town to see its beautiful landscapes, explore its cultural and historical attractions and vibrant art scene, as well as gain insight into the local Aboriginal culture.
If you’re ready to discover the heartland of Central Australia but have no inkling where to start, here’s a list of attractions in and around Alice Springs for you to explore.
1. Alice Springs Desert Park
Alice Springs Desert Park is a sprawling facility that focuses on environmental education and conservation. The 1,300-hectare wildlife park features a wide collection of flora and fauna native to Central Australia. Furthermore, it provides visitors a glimpse of the culture of the Aranda people, said to be the traditional owners of the parkland.
The Alice Springs Desert Park has different sections or natural habitats – Desert Rivers, Sand Country, Nocturnal House, and Woodland. Visitors have the opportunity to observe up close the birds, nocturnal creatures, kangaroos, crocodiles, and other wildlife within these habitats. There are also facilities for demonstrations and presentations that showcase the diversity of the Australian desert and its role in the survival and culture of the Aboriginal people.
The park gates open at 7:30am. The best time to visit is early in the morning when the heat is still bearable.
2. The Alice Springs Telegraph Station
Located within the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve, the Alice Springs Telegraph Station is a favourite pit stop among travellers who want to learn a thing or two about Central Australia’s history. Founded in 1872, the station is the site of the first European settlement in the region.
The station was declared a heritage site in 2004, 41 years after it became part of a protected historical reserve. Visitors to Alice Springs Telegraph Station can tour the restored telegraph buildings and spend a relaxing time at the café and picnic area. Barbecue facilities are also provided for free, that’s why it’s a preferred barbecue spot among locals. The historical reserve also functions as a mountain biking destination.
3. West MacDonnell Ranges
Not to be missed during your trip in Alice Springs are the West MacDonnell Ranges, considered major tourist destinations in town. The scenery in the area is like no other. What awaits you are magnificent ranges and stunning gorges and waterholes, making the West MacDonnell Ranges ideal for swimming and hiking. There are a number of must-see attractions in the ranges, and the most popular ones include the following: Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Serpentine Gorge, The Ochre Pits, Glen Helen and Redbank Gorge.
4. Ayers Rock
One of the most important cultural sites in Australia is Uluru, also called Ayers Rock. Sitting 335 kilometres southwest of Alice Springs, Ayers Rock is a massive sandstone rock formation that is of great religious and cultural significance to the Aboriginal population in the area.
One of the country’s most iconic landmarks, Ayers Rock is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also one of the best spots for witnessing the mesmerizing Central Australian sunrise or sunset.
5. Alice Springs Reptile Centre
Founded by Rex Neindorf, the Alice Springs Reptile Centre is a privately owned institution that is plausibly one of the most popular attractions in “The Alice.” The reptile centre houses a huge collection of indigenous reptiles in the Northern Territory, including frill-necked lizards, Thorny Devils, Perentie, snakes, geckos and other fascinating creatures.
There’s a daily educational show at the facility wherein you will learn a lot of interesting things about different types of reptiles. You will also get to hold lizards and snakes during the supervised handling session. Admission fee is 17 AUD for adults and 9 AUD for kids 16 and below.
6. The Kangaroo Sanctuary
Known all over the world as the home of Brolga and the kangaroos of the popular documentary Kangaroo Dundee, the Kangaroo Sanctuary has shown unwavering commitment towards the rescue, rehabilitation and release of joeys into their natural habitat, as well as providing care and a permanent home to adult kangaroos in the 188-acre facility. The sanctuary also functions as an educational centre by providing information to and encouraging visitors to protect, rescue, and care for kangaroos.
The Kangaroo Sanctuary is open during Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays for the 3-hour sunset tours with Brolga as your guide. You will get the chance to hold and feed a baby kangaroo during the tour. Tour fees will set you back 85 AUD for adults and 45 AUD for children.
7. Araluen Cultural Precinct
The Araluen Cultural Precinct is Alice Springs’ Cultural Centre. Located on Larapinta Drive, the precinct features art galleries, museums, and a 500-seat theatre that can accommodate screenings and live performances.
The Albert Namatjira Gallery, one of the four art galleries in the precinct, houses a collection of the artworks of Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira, the pioneer of contemporary indigenous Aboriginal art. Included in the collection are the works of Namatjira’s family, his contemporaries, and current Aboriginal artists.
The Araluen Centre also regularly exhibits the work of Aboriginal artists such as Daisy Jugadai Napaltjarri, a distinguished Aboriginal artist from the Western Desert cultural bloc.
Excited for your first ever Central Australian outback adventure? Check out these adventure tours and day trips on Travezl.com.
By: Brendelyn Balaga