Alice Springs

Alice Springs Desert Park, Alice Springs Desert Park

Population 21619

Located on the Todd River in the MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs is almost 1500 kilometres from the nearest capital city. In 1871 Overland Telegraph Line surveyor William Whitfield Mills discovered a permanent waterhole just north of today's city. Mills named the water source after Alice Todd, wife of South Australian Superintendent of Telegraphs Sir Charles Todd. A repeater station was built on the site. In 1888 the South Australian government gazetted a town 3 kilometres to the south. It was called Stuart until 1933, when the name Alice Springs was adopted. Supplies came to the slow-growing settlement by camel train from Port Augusta. The railway line from Adelaide, known as the Ghan after the original Afghan camel drivers, was completed in 1929. Today 'the Alice' is an oasis of modern civilisation in the middle of a vast and largely uninhabited desert, made all the more likeable by not taking itself too seriously (as some of its annual events testify).

Visitor Information

Central Australian Tourism Industry Association, 60 Gregory Tce; (08) 8952 5800 or 1800 645 199

Nearby national parks

  • West MacDonnell National Park

    The weathered MacDonnell Ranges rise abruptly from the flat terrain of central Australia, an ancient landscape of parallel ridges sculpted by...more

  • Rainbow Valley National Park

    To catch a sunset or sunrise at Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve is one of the great outback experiences – the coloured bands of...more

  • Finke Gorge National Park

    Finke Gorge National Park straddles the often-dry Finke River, the oldest watercourse in the world, which meanders 400 kilometres before it...more

Nearby towns

  • Arltunga Bush Hotel - Introduction

    Arltunga was named after a subgroup of the Arrernte people who had lived in the area for at least 22 000 years before Europeans arrived.When...more

  • Hermannsburg

    This Aboriginal community lives on the site of a former mission station established by German Lutherans in 1877. During the first 14 years,...more

  • Glen Helen Resort

    This small homestead-style resort is an excellent base for exploring the superb scenery of Glen Helen Gorge and other attractions in West...more

In Town

Alice Springs Cultural Precinct This precinct includes some of Alice Springs' best cultural attractions. At the Araluen Centre 3 galleries of Aboriginal art feature work from the central desert, and a magnificent stained-glass window by local artist Wenten Rubuntja. The Museum of Central Australia offers an insight into the geological and natural history of the Red Centre, with interpretive displays and impressive fossils. Also in the precinct are the Strehlow Research Centre, Craft Central, the Central Australian Aviation Museum and the Yeperenye Sculpture, depicting a Dreamtime caterpillar. One ticket covers the entry to each attraction. Cnr Larapinta Dr and Memorial Ave; (08) 8951 1120.

Alice Springs Desert Park David Attenborough was so impressed by this desert park that he proclaimed, 'there is no museum or wildlife park in the world that could match it.' Read More

John Flynn Memorial Uniting Church: in memory of the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Australian Inland Mission; Todd Mall; (08) 8953 0826. (Flynn's grave can be found 1 km beyond the entrance to Alice Springs Desert Park.)

Adelaide House: originally a hospital designed by Rev Flynn, now a museum displaying pedal-radio equipment he used and other artefacts and photographs; open 10am–4pm Mon–Fri and 10am–12pm Sat Mar–Nov; Todd Mall.

Sounds of Starlight Theatre: musical journey through Central Australia; open Apr–Nov; Todd Mall.

Alice Springs Reptile Centre: houses the largest reptile display in Central Australia, including goannas, lizards, pythons and some of the world’s most venomous snakes. Open Mon–Sun; Stuart Tce; (08) 8952 8700.

Aboriginal Australia Art and Culture Centre: exhibits of local Arrernte culture and an Aboriginal music museum, including the only didgeridoo university in the world. Activities include boomerang and spear throwing, and a bush-tucker experience with damper and billy tea; Todd St.

Royal Flying Doctor Service Base: operational base since 1939, with daily tours and presentations, and an interactive museum; Stuart Tce; (08) 8952 1129.

National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame: national project dedicated to preserving women's place in Australia's history; open Feb–mid-Dec; Old Alice Springs Gaol, 2 Stuart Terrace.

Old Stuart Town Gaol: open 10am–12.30pm Mon–Sat; Parsons St; (08) 8952 4516.

Anzac Hill: the most visited landmark in Alice Springs, this war memorial features panoramic views of town and the MacDonnell Ranges; Anzac Hill Rd.

Stuart Town Cemetery: original town cemetery with graves of the earliest pioneers dating from 1889; George Cres.

Alice Springs School of the Air: the first of its kind in Australia with a classroom size of 1.3 million sq km. See interpretive displays and hear lessons being broadcast; Head St; (08) 8951 6834.

Old Hartley Street School: originally constructed in 1930 and closed in 1965, the school was added to several times as the population surged, reflecting the changing styles and requirements of school design; open 10am–2.30pm Mon–Fri; Hartley St; (08) 8952 4516.

Olive Pink Botanic Gardens: named after an anthropologist who worked with Central Desert people, this is Australia's only arid-zone botanic garden. Covering 16ha, it contains over 300 Central Australian plant species in simulated habitats such as sand dunes, woodlands and creeks; Cnr of Barrett Dr and Tuncks St; (08) 8952 2514.

The Residency: grand home completed in 1927 and housing Central Australia's regional administrator until 1973. It has welcomed many VIPs, including Queen Elizabeth II, and now showcases local history; Cnr Parsons and Hartley sts.

Red Centre Dreaming: authentic, traditional and modern Aboriginal dance. Australian food is served including damper, kangaroo and barramundi; North Stuart Hwy.

Aboriginal cultural experiences, art galleries and artefacts: tours and galleries plus ceremonial dances and didgeridoo playing are all available. Obtain more information from the visitor centre.


West MacDonnell National Park The majestic MacDonnell Ranges, once higher than the Himalayas, were formed over 800 million years ago. Over time the ancient peaks have been dramatically eroded. What remains is a spectacular environment of rugged gorges, hidden waterholes, remnant rainforest and an unexpectedly large number of animal species and flora. The jewel of the ranges is Ormiston Gorge, one of the most beautiful in Australia, while the Ochre Pits are a natural quarry once mined by Aboriginal people for ochre that they used in rock art, painting and ceremonial decoration. The Larapinta Trail is a huge 230 km walk, divided into 12 sections covering the major sites of the ranges and can be walked separately. Contact the Parks and Wildlife Service NT for maps and tour options on (08) 8951 8250; 17 km W.

Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park Located in the East MacDonnells, Emily Gap (13 km E) and Jessie Gap (18 km E) contain Aboriginal rock art and are important spiritual sites to the Eastern Arrernte people. The caterpillar beings of Mparntwe (Alice Springs) originated where Emily Gap lies today. They formed Emily Gap and other topographical features around Alice Springs. Both gaps are popular barbecue and picnic places. (08) 8951 8250.

Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve: area protecting original stone buildings and equipment, with historical display, guided tours, bushwalking and wildlife (Alice Springs waterhole is located here); 3 km N.

Old Timers Traeger Museum: unique museum set in a retirement home and run by volunteer residents. It displays photographs and memorabilia from the early days of white settlement in Central Australia; 5 km S.

Pyndan Camel Tracks: ride a camel through the picturesque Ilparpa Valley alongside the Western MacDonnell Ranges; 0416 170 164; 15 km.

The Date Farm: locally grown dates and a pleasant palm garden at Australia's first commercial date farm; 7 km E.

National Road Transport Hall of Fame: impressive collection of old trucks, cars and motorbikes; 8 km S.

Ghan Railway Museum: re-creation of a 1930s railway siding featuring the Old Ghan, which runs on 8 km of private line between MacDonnell Siding and Mt Ertiva; 10 km S.

Tropic of Capricorn marker: bicentennial project marking the Tropic of Capricorn; 30 km N.

Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve: soft sandstone outcrops form natural galleries of sacred Aboriginal paintings. Custodians request that visitors do not climb on rocks or interfere with the paintings; 35 km SE.

Corroboree Rock Conservation Reserve: significant Eastern Arrernte site for ceremonial activities with a short walk and information signs; 43 km E.

Standley Chasm: spectacular, narrow, sheer-sided gorge that is particularly striking at midday when the sun lights up the rocks. An attractive 1 km creek walk leads to the chasm and picnic facilities; 50 km W.

Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve: stunning freestanding sandstone cliffs that change colour at sunrise and sunset. Access by 4WD only; 101 km S.

Mud Tank zircon field: prospecting for zircons, guided fossicking tours and gem-cutting at the caravan park; 135 km NE.

Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve: contains 12 craters created when meteorites (comprising 90% iron) crashed to earth 4700 years ago. The largest of the meteorites was over 100 kg and is now at the Museum of Central Australia in Alice Springs; 147 km SW.

Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve: Chambers Pillar, named by John McDouall Stuart in 1860, is a 40 m high solitary rock pillar left standing on a Simpson Desert plain after 340 million years of erosion. It served as a landmark for early pioneers and explorers and is best viewed at dawn or dusk; 149 km S.

Mereenie Loop: this unsealed road links the West MacDonnell Ranges, Hermannsburg, Glen Helen and Palm Valley with Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon). A permit is required because a section of the route passes through Aboriginal land; obtain a map and permit from visitor centre.

Tours: experience scenic attractions and Aboriginal culture by foot, bus or coach, train, limousine, 4WD safari, Harley-Davidson motorcycle, camel, horse, aeroplane, helicopter or hot-air balloon; brochures at visitor centre.

Golf courses around town

Alice Springs Golf Club 2 km

Early in the morning or late in the day are the best times to witness the colourful splendour of a round at Alice Springs, Australia’s only true desert course of championship standard. The beautifully maintained... Find out more

Cafes & restaurants around town

Alice Vietnamese Restaurant

Located 15 kilometres south of Alice Springs, between the town and the airport, this restaurant is popular with locals, particularly those who live on the southside of ‘the Alice’. The family-run restaurant... Find out more

Casa Nostra Pizza Bar & Spaghetti House

On the east side of town, a short drive from the CBD, Casa Nostra has been an institution in Alice Springs for more than 20 years. A typically great Italian family restaurant, it’s full of warmth, serves authentic... Find out more

Hanuman Alice Springs

The Alice Springs offshoot of Darwin’s successful Hanuman restaurant has been enthusiastically received. Moodily lit and featuring stylish Asian decor, this Crowne Plaza restaurant brings a taste of the Orient to... Find out more

Bojangles Saloon and Dining Room

Aussie outback meets American Wild West at this saloon-style pub and restaurant, which is packed to the rafters with Top End character – from its Outback Mixed Grill, featuring kangaroo, camel and crocodile, to its... Find out more

Oscar’s Cafe & Restaurant

Situated in the cinema complex in Todd Mall, Oscar’s specialises in authentic Spanish cuisine, with Portuguese dishes also appearing on the menu. Australian dishes, such as Fremantle sardines, are popular too. The... Find out more

The Overlanders Steakhouse

A short stroll from the CBD you’ll find one of Alice Springs’ most famous restaurants. Decorated in rugged outback style, with exposed beams, corrugated iron and even a windmill, the steakhouse strikes... Find out more

Campsites around town

MacDonnell Range Holiday Park 4 km

This caravan park is set in picturesque surroundings in the MacDonnell Ranges, 4 km south of Alice Springs. There is plenty to do: hire a bike and cycle into town or visit the recreation room with pool tables, table... Find out more

Alice Springs Heritage Caravan and Tourist Park 4 km

Although a little out of the main part of Alice, this 4-star park is in a peaceful location near an old date farm. It has a cracking great pool, shade trees and even includes a library. Head south out of Alice Springs on... Find out more

Wallaby Gap camping area (walk-in camping) 10 km

On the Larapinta Trail, just 300 m from Wallaby Gap, this site is 13 km west of Alice Springs Telegraph Station.... Find out more

Arenge Bluff camping area (walk-in camping) 25 km

On the Larapinta Trail, this basic site overlooking Arenge Bluff is 10 km west of Simpsons Gap. Bring water and a gas/fuel stove.... Find out more

Mulga Camp camping area (walk-in camping) 27 km

On the Larapinta Trail, Mulga Camp is 13 km west of Simpsons Gap. Bring a gas/fuel stove.... Find out more

Jay Creek camping area (walk-in camping) 35 km

This is a section trailhead on the Larapinta Trail, and 4WDs can reach to within 1 km of it. There are gas BBQs, toilets and drinking water.... Find out more

Millers Flat camping area (walk-in camping) 40 km

On the Larapinta Trail, this site is 9 km west of Jay Creek. It has no facilities and you need to bring water and a gas/fuel stove.... Find out more

Brinkley Bluff camping area (walk-in camping) 50 km

On the Larapinta Trail, this bush camp with no facilities is 10 km west of Standley Chasm. Bring water and a gas/fuel stove.... Find out more

John Hayes Rockhole camping area 51 km

A popular swimming spot in summer, this site is accessible only by 4WD.  Bring your own drinking water to the campground.... Find out more

Birthday Waterhole camping area 55 km

A high-clearance 4WD is required to access the trailhead. This site is on the Larapinta Trail 18 km west of Standley Chasm. Bring a gas/fuel stove.... Find out more

Caravan parks around town

Wintersun Cabin and Caravan Park 2 km

Located on the north side of Alice Springs, this place offers pleasant, grassy sites with shade. It is a quality park with good access to the Stuart Highway. Bookings are required in the winter months.... Find out more

Big 4 MacDonnell Range Holiday Park 4 km

Enjoy a delicious, free pancake breakfast every Sunday morning at this large, quality park. It has numerous activities during the tourist season (April to October), including nightly talks on the stars, bush tucker and... Find out more

G'day Mate Tourist Park 4 km

This tidy compact park with good facilities is a suitable base for exploring Alice Springs. It does not have the tourist-season activities of some other parks and this is reflected in the price. Bookings are required in... Find out more

Heritage Caravan Park 4 km

If you are travelling to Alice Springs with your pet dog then this is the park for you. It is the only dog park in town. There is a full range of facilities, a large well-stocked shop and a huge swimming pool. Bookings... Find out more

Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Alice on Todd

This complex of modern, self-contained apartments by the Todd River is a short walk from the centre of Alice Springs, the casino and golf course. The apartments are set among tall river gums, with landscaped gardens and... Find out more

Alice Springs Resort

On the banks of the Todd River, a short walk to the centre of Alice Springs, this award-winning resort has been designed to blend into the Red Centre’s arid environment. Low-set, the resort is surrounded by... Find out more

Cavenagh Lodge B&B

This accommodation is tucked away on a hill overlooking Alice Springs, backing onto the Old Telegraph Station Reserve and a 20-minute walk to town. The lodge has four spacious bedrooms decorated in early Australiana... Find out more

Lasseters Hotel Casino

On the east side of Alice Springs, a short walk to the CBD and golf course, the hotel has stunning views of the MacDonnell Ranges as well as an international-standard casino on-site. There are two good restaurants,... Find out more

The Rainbow Connection

As the name suggests, this hotel caters for gay and lesbian travellers, and is located within a short walk to the CBD. The accommodation includes a three-bedroom guest suite with kitchen and barbecue facilities, while... Find out more

The Swagmans Rest Motel

This budget motel on Gap Rd is a ten-minute walk from the centre of Alice Springs and its many galleries, cafes and restaurants. Rooms are self-contained and comfortable, and the complex has a relaxed ambience with... Find out more

White Gum Motel

Beautiful ghost gums tower over these motel grounds. Self-contained rooms are equipped with fridge, cooking facilities, ensuite, air-conditioning and broadband internet access. Breakfast can be ordered, and the grounds... Find out more

Bond Springs Station

Located 20 kilometres north of Alice Springs, off the Stuart Highway, Bond Springs is one of the oldest cattle stations in Central Australia. Much of its history has been retained – there is the old school house... Find out more

Ooraminna Station Homestead

This station homestead provides an opportunity to experience how Central Australian pioneers lived, but in comfort. Located 30 kilometres south of Alice Springs, Ooraminna is part of a working cattle station where guests... Find out more

Ross River Resort

Located 85 kilometres east of Alice Springs, this resort is centred around the original Loves Creek homestead built in 1898, and is an ideal base for exploring the East MacDonnell Ranges. There are camping areas, a... Find out more

Rest areas around town

Pol Hill rest area 56 km

141km N of Erldunda (L) or 59km S of Alice Springs (R)

Adjacent to the highway among a few trees.

Connor Well rest area 90 km

95km N of Alice Springs (L) or 99km S of Ti Tree (R)

Adjacent to the highway among a couple of trees.

What's on around town

Alice Springs Council Market: Todd Mall; contact city council for dates and times, (08) 8950 0505.

Heritage Festival: Apr.

Racing Carnival: Apr/May.

Bangtail Muster: street parade and sports day; May.

Finke Desert Race: car and motorbike racing; June.

Beanie Festival: June.

Camel Cup: July.

Show: cooking, crafts and camels; July.

Rodeo: Aug.

Henley-on-Todd Regatta: boats wheeled or carried along a dry riverbed; Aug.

Masters Games: mature-age athletics carnival, even-numbered years; Oct.

Desert Festival: arts festival; Sept.

Bassinthedust: youth music festival; Oct.

Christmas Carnival: Dec.

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