Alice Springs is a small town in the very centre of Australia. It is surrounded by desert and scrubland on all sides and is an equal 1500 kilometres (930 miles) from Darwin in the north and Adelaide in the south. The town was founded as far back as the 1870s, but the population remained low until it became a major staging area for soldiers during the Second World War. It’s the primary transport hub and distribution centre for Central Australia, but still feels as far from the rest of the world as you can possibly get.
Fill up on water, pack some lunch, and head out to explore the MacDonnell Ranges. The ridges and gorges are dotted with watering holes and sacred Aboriginal sites. Walk a leg of the Larapinta Trail to see some of its more spectacular areas or even take a few weeks to tackle the entire 223 kilometre (139 mile) trail. If that’s a bit too extreme, tour the desert on camel back or jump on a quad bike.
For one of the best views in the region, climb Mount Gillen. It’s a tough trek and should be avoided at the peak of summer, but getting to the summit is well worth the effort. Learn about local flora and fauna at Alice Springs Desert Park. For a closer look at some of Central Australia’s most fascinating creatures, check out the Alice Springs Reptile Centre.
Any history buffs should head to one of the town’s many museums. Drop by the Aboriginal Australia Culture Centre to learn about native Australians or spend a couple of hours browsing the collection at the Adelaide House Museum. Art lovers should note that Alice Springs is a centre of indigenous art, with several galleries scattered around town. Be sure to check out the collection at the Araluen Arts and Cultural Centre.
Alice Springs is a town at the heart of a region like no other. Surrounded by the red deserts of Central Australia and home to some excellent cultural institutions, it’s not a place you’ll forget.