Alice Springs – the what, where and when to the Red Centre Capital

Welcome to Alice Springs
Welcome to Alice Springs

Recently named by Australian Traveller as one of the “Top 3 Towns to visit in Australia”, Alice Springs has a very distinctive style and atmosphere, enjoyed by the 25,000 people who call it home – and the thousands more who visit every year.  

Alice Springs is Northern Territory’s largest town located about 15,00kms south of the capital city Darwin. It is roughly positioned in the middle of the country. The Alice is also the gateway to the stunning scenery of the Eastern and Western MacDonnell Ranges and to the famous Larapinta Trail, all of which attract hundreds of visitors into town for a pre or post visit. 

There is a lot to see and do in this remote central Australian town, especially if you are interested in nature, history or art. There is an incredible range of natural landscapes near the city and more art galleries in Alice Springs then another Australian town or city and the town’s rich history is an attraction in its own right.

Learn about the history of Alice Springs and the famous Overland Telegraph Line |  <i>Danielle Flegg</i>

Historical Landmarks

Alice Springs Telegraph Station
The most significant European landmark in town is the Alice Springs Telegraph Station.  The historic museum tells the story of Australia’s Overland Telegraph Line, which was established in 1871 to carry communications to the rest of Australia. The station, which is located 4kms north of the town,  is the birthplace of the town’s name:  Alice was named after Alice Todd, the wife of the telegraphy line’s contractor, Charles Todd, and Springs because locals mistakenly thought they had found a natural “spring“ in the Todd River (which is usually dry).  The Telegraph Station also marks the start of the 223km Larapinta Trail. 

ANZAC Hill
This is the best outlook of the town and features an Anzac Day memorial from 1934.

Museums

MegaFauna Museum
A chance to learn about the megafauna of central Australia, which were abundant 8 million years ago.

Museum of Central Australia
Learn about the region’s natural history and view one of Australia’s most important film and sound collection of Indigenous ceremonial life.

Old Ghan Heritage Railway and Museum
One of the most famous rail journeys in the world runs from Darwin to Adelaide and the museum commemorates the old train and its carriages.  The museum has a working train, on which visitors can ride to a station just as they would have in the 1930’s. 

The Ghan Railway crosses the Larapinta Trail near Alice Springs |  <i>Graham Michael Freeman</i>

Stuart Town Goal
Walk into the historic 1908 stone jail and view the police memorabilia exhibits.

Hartley Street School Museum 
Visit the first official school in Alice Springs, which was established in 1929.    The School of Air commenced teaching here in 1950. 

Adelaide House Museum
This restored, 1926 hospital offers exhibits exploring the life of Flying Doctor founder, John Flynn.

The Central Australian Aviation Museum
View displays of aircraft and an original Connellan Airways hanger.

Art Galleries

There are too many galleries to list them, here are a few visitor favourites.
Mbantua Aboriginal Art Gallery
Housing local Central Australian art including the famous Utopia region.  

Araluen Arts Centre
Located at the town’s edge, it holds one of the country’s largest collection of works by Albert Namatjira. The gallery holds the annual Desert Mob exhibition showing art from the desert communities.

Tjanpi Desert Weavers 
View sculptures, decorated baskets and other art creations from a group of 400 women from 26 remote communities. 

Yubu Napa Art Gallery
Meet an artist onsite and admire art from local and Top End creators.

Intricate details bring the didgeridoo to life |  <i>Peter Walton</i>

Flora and Fauna

Alice Springs Desert Park
Not only is this a wildlife park with a botanic garden, it is an environmental education facility. A fun day out to view the local fauna.

Olive Pink Botanic Garden
Founded in 1956 by Miss Olive Muriel Pink, see and smell the beautiful flora of the arid desert regions. 

The Kangaroo Sanctuary
Home of the Kangaroo Dundee, the documentary followed the lives of the rescue kangaroos and other wildlife in the sanctuary. 

Dingo at Alice Springs Desert Wildlife Park |  <i>Andrew Thomasson</i>

Festivals and Events

Alice Springs hosts a number of significant cultural events. If you can time your visit to coincide with one of these, you’ll experience another aspect of life in the  Red Centre.

Parrtjima - Light Festival (April) 
This Light festival with large scale artworks projected across the surrounding landscape including the stunning MacDonnell Ranges. It’s a spectacular event to attend.

Beanie Festival (June) 
Features over 4,000 beanies designed and created by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal locals showing their quirky and stylish beanies.

Henley on Todd Regatta (August)
A boat race in the dry sands of the Todd River. It’s the world’s only dry riverbed boating regatta!

Desert Mob (September)
A three-day event for enthusiasts of Aboriginal art and stories.

Desert Song Festival (September)
Ten-day festival brings singers, musicians, choirs of all genres of music to Alice Springs to show off their talents.  

There’s always something on in town, so check out the local visitor centre for what’s on.

Shopping

There are a few shopping centres and plazas in town include Yeperenye Shopping Centre, Alice Plaza and Todd Mall where you’ll find supermarkets, clothing stores, chemists, cafes and gift stores.

Todd Mall Markets
Every Sunday morning, wander through the mall markets and pick up a new souvenir or bargain. In additional, markets also happen some Thursday evenings, so check out dates when you arrive. 

Lone Dingo Gear Store
A well equipped outdoor gear specialist, the Lone Dingo’s friendly staff can provide expert advice about last-minute items you may need for any local walks, including the Larapinta Trail walk.  This is also the location of our pre-trip briefing.

Lone Dingo Gear Store - Alice Springs

Where to Eat

There is an abundance of great eating establishments in town, each with its own local character. Here’s TripAdvisor’s top 5.

  • Barra on Todd Restaurant & Bar – located in the Mercure Alice Springs Resort
  • Sporties Bar & Bistro – in Todd Mall
  • Red Ochre Grill Restaurant – in the Aurora Alice Springs off Todd Mall
  • Epilogue Lounge – in Todd Mall
  • Kungkas Can Cook Café – on the South Stuart Highway. This café sources local bush tucker plants and herbs to infuse into the freshly prepared meals. If you are looking to sample bush tucker, this is a fantastic café to stop for lunch.

Delicious Bush Tucker infused meals

Where to Stay

Depending on your budget and your preferred location, here are our recommendations:

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Alice Springs
  • Crowne Plaza Alice Springs Lasseters
  • Mercure Alice Springs Resort
  • Aurora Alice Springs
  • The Diplomat Motel Alice Springs

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