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Great things to do in Alice Springs
Alice Springs is a beautiful desert oasis in the middle of Australia and despite being miles from everywhere, there are plenty of great things to do in this amazing desert city.
Australia’s Red Centre will capture your heart. The rich red colours of the desert, vibrant sunsets and clear blue skies will take your breath away.
Like so many others who visit Alice Springs for a short stay, I stayed many years longer than intended, like so many others.
Here are 21 great things to do in Alice Springs.
There’s much to see and do in Alice Springs
There are many great reasons to visit this desert oasis.
See animals that live in natural habitats at wildlife parks, kangaroo sanctuaries or in the wild as you’re visiting the sights nearby.
Wander around Australia’s only arid-zone botanic garden and learn about the legendary explorers, prospectors, cattlemen and pioneering women of the outback.
Visit the galleries on the Todd Mall, learn about the Arrernte people as you learn about the history of Alice Springs.
So, why should Alice Springs be on your Bucket List?
Add Alice Springs to your
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Spend a day or a week exploring the sites in and around Alice Springs.
The warmth of the town, the intense colours of the desert country and the experiences you will have, will stay in your heart forever.
My favourite things to do in Alice Springs
Visit the Alice Springs Desert Park
Just 10 minutes from the centre of town is the Alice Springs Desert Park.
Much more than a wildlife park, the Alice Springs Desert Park is great family experience. Be sure to see the popular Birds of Prey shows which feature Australian native Kites and Eagles. Take a peek at this Youtube video: Meet James in Australia at the Alice Springs Desert Park
Listen to the cultural talks about the local indigenous desert peoples before wandering through the wildlife enclosures. You will see kangaroos, quolls, possums, emus, perentes and other reptiles as well as the Thorny Devil which is unique to the central desert region. The Park has an extensive display of wildflowers growing throughout including the fabulous Sturts’ Desert Pea.
Wander through the Olive Pink Gardens
Alice Springs is known for its colourful characters. Miss Pink made her mark as a woman to be reckoned with when she began advocating for Aboriginal rights in the 1930’s. She founded the beautiful Olive Pink Botanic Garden in 1956 at the grand age of 72.
The gardens feature more than 2500 plantings of almost 500 Central Australian plants as well as a unique sculpture trail.
There are a number of great short walks throughout the park and the surrounding hills with great views over Alice Springs. The cafe is great little lunch spot and popular with locals.
See the Todd River in Flood
The Todd River is a dry riverbed for most of the year. Rumour has it that “if you see the Todd flow 3 times, you will stay forever”.
The origins of the Todd begin in the MacDonnell Ranges, flowing past the Telegraph Station towards the Alice Springs township and onwards to the Simpson Desert. It eventually flows into Lake Eyre in South Australia.
It is an extraordinary experience to watch the Todd ‘come down’ and when the word goes out, the locals head to the river’s edge to watch the event.
Check out the Historic Telegraph Station
A beautiful park to relax in and the start of a number of walking tracks to the town and surrounds.
Historically the Telegraph Station was an important part of the settlement of Alice Springs and has now been developed into a museum for visitors to gain knowledge of ‘how things were’. A great spot to see birds, wallabies and other central Australian wildlife.
Alice’s vibrant Art Scene
Many talented artists gravitate to Alice Springs.
Artists such as Albert Namatjira and Rex Batterby gained fame and recognition with their stunning Central Australian watercolours. A magnificent gallery at Araluen is home to the largest collection of works by Albert Namatjira in Australia.
Commercial galleries specialising in Aboriginal art are Mbantua, Muk Muk and Papunya Tula Artists – located in the Todd Mall. Each year the Central Australian Art Society presents the Advocate Art Awards, which attracts entries from talented artists for this prestigious award.
Visit the Royal Flying Doctors
Check out the World’s largest Classroom
The Alice Springs Community
One of the things I love most about Alice Springs is that the community always gets behind a worthwhile cause.
A tight-knit community and generous supporters of local charities such as the ‘Butterfly Connection‘ who support families who need to go south for health services.
The Apex, Lions and Rotary service clubs constantly work to raise funds for a good cause within the local community.
Alice does ‘events’ well
Alice Springs locals are great at having fun and they really know how to pull events together especially when raising funds for a good cause.
Significant events such as the Alice Springs Masters Games, Henley on Todd, the Camel Cup and the Finke Desert Race all have originated in Alice Springs. Consider timing your visit to take up one of these fabulous annual events.
Each year the Parrtjima Festival lights up the West MacDonnell ranges. A spectacular event bringing the beautiful MacDonnell ranges to life with spectacular lighting effects telling the Central Australia story.
The Kangaroo Sanctuary
Take a guided sunset tour of the Kangaroo Sanctuary for an amazing wildlife experience. The Kangaroo Sanctuary is about 20 minutes’ drive from Alice Springs and a popular place to visit whilst you’re in Alice Springs.
The Baby Kangaroo Rescue Centre was established in Alice Springs in 2005 and the Kangaroo Sanctuary opened in 2011 for rescued orphaned baby kangaroos and adult kangaroos.
Enjoy a Hearty Breakfast with the Parrots
Alice Springs has a number of trendy little cafes and restaurants located in the Todd Mall which are a great place to catch up with friends.
Brightly coloured Port Lincoln Parrots hover in the trees swooping in for crumbs when you’re not looking.
An outdoor market operates in the Todd Mall regularly on Sundays from mid-March to early December featuring local produce, arts, crafts and street food.
Cycle the Simpson Gap Bike Path
Simpsons Gap is a spectacular rocky gorge located about 25 kilometres west of Alice Springs with a permanent waterhole. A visit to Simpsons Gap at dawn or dusk will often reward you sightings of black-footed rock wallabies along the rock-face.
Accessible by road, but if you’re up for a decent bike ride take the sealed Simpsons Gap Bike Path. The path takes the scenic route cross-country with fairly easy grades. Many of the hotels offer hire bikes for the energetic.
The Old Ghan Heritage Museum
The first Ghan train left Adelaide for Alice Springs on August 4, 1929.
It was often late, sometimes up to six weeks late! The intense heat of the outback buckled the steel rails, termites ate the timber sleepers and bridges were washed away by flash floods making train travel unreliable.
In 1980 the Old Ghan was replaced by the New Ghan on a different track.Visit the Old Ghan Heritage Railway Museum next door to the National Road Transport Hall of Fame.
Ride into the Sunset on a Camel
No trip to Central Australia is complete without a camel ride at sunset! Known as Ships of the Desert, camels played a huge role in the early settlement of Central Australia.
You will have a chance to get close to wallabies, kangaroos, lizards and native birds as you enjoy this once in a lifetime experience. Be sure to take home a photo of a stunning Central Australian sunset on your magical camel ride.
Explore the West Macs
The West MacDonnell Ranges are famous for it’s chasms, rocky outcrops and spectacular gorges. Known as the West Macs, are one of the most popular day trips from Alice.
Discover picturesque gorges, lush watering holes and striking red desert and take in some of the most striking landscape in the country.
Visit Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, The Ochre Pits, Ellery Big Hole, Hermmnsberg, Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen Resort on the Finke River. Each has it’s own beauty and will take your breath away.
Explore the East
The East Macs are every bit as spectacular. Emily Gap, Corroboree Rock and Jesse Gap are only a short drive from town and are great picnic spots.
Trephina Gorge has fantastic walking trails along the bottom and around the rim of the large semicircular canyon. If you’re lucky you’ll find the local gospel choir, Asante Sana taking advantage of the natural acoustics of the Gorge.
Head further east to the Ross River Resort and enjoy a great lunch.
Take a Hot-air Adventure
Have you ever wanted to take a hot-air-balloon flight? It’s a cold, early-morning start, but once you’re in the air it’s a magical way to watch the sunrise give life to the beautiful desert plains.
Operating every day, weather permitting. Memories of this hot air balloon experience will stay with you forever.
Visit the Strehlow Research Centre & Museum
The Strehlow Centre is a great place to learn about the Central Australian region. In the Museum of Central Australia you will learn about the unique story of this region’s natural and geological history.
Exhibitions in the museum include fossils, meteorite fragments, displays of creatures you might encounter in the region, including birds, mammals, reptiles and insects.
Step out in your Beanie
If you’re visiting Alice Springs in June, be sure to go along to the annual Beanie Festival – or better still, put an entry in!
The competition to see who can create the funnies, wildest and weirdest beanie often makes national news. Beanies are displayed at the Araluen Arts Centre every year.
Experience the Stars
The Earth Sanctuary is a leader in the field of sustainability in education and eco-tourism.
The ‘Spirit of the Outback’ dinner & show and night time astronomy tours is one of the most amazing experiences in Alice Springs. It takes you from a spectacular sunset over the East Macdonnell ranges to an awe inspiring canopy of stars as you learn about the southern hemisphere skies.
Learn to play the Didgeridoo
The Sounds of Starlight Theatre is in the Todd Mall, Alice Springs and features a modern theatre and retail gift shop and art gallery. Over 20,000 travellers visit this theatre each year.
Andrew Langford is recognised internationally and the rhythmic quality of his playing and his extensive knowledge of the history and origins of this unique instrument bring together an unforgettable venue.
5 Essential Items for your trip to Alice Springs, Australia
- A Good Camera: There will be plenty of great photo moments in the Top End so bring along a good camera. I highly recommend the Sony A6000. It’s light, compact and takes amazing photos!
- Good Walking Shoes: The outdoor lifestyle in Australia means you will need good walking shoes. Be comfortable, and treat yourself to a pair of these – Women’s or Men’s walkers. Perfect to explore Outback Australia. I love mine.
- A long-sleeve hiking shirt: I love my long-sleeve Simms shirt for great airflow and protection from the Northern Territory sun. At the end of the day, a quick rinse will have it fresh and clean for the next day adventures.
- A Stainless Steel Water Bottle: Stay hydrated in the harsh Territory sun. Get yourself a Yeti stainless water bottle and refill as you go. Australian tap water is drinkable … and free!
- Good Sun Hat and Fly Net: Protect yourself against the elements in the Outback. Check out this packable Wallaroo Sun Hat designed in Australia for Outback conditions. Don’t forget to take a fly net to keep those pesky critters away from your face!
Where to stay in Alice Springs
Alice Springs has accommodation to suit every budget. Check out your options here.
Heading to Alice Springs soon? Pin this to use on your trip.
Are you staying longer?
There is so much to see and do in and around Alice Springs. While you’re in this unique part of outback Australia consider adding these to your list.
- An Aussie Road Trip – Alice Springs to Adelaide
- Uluru – Australia’s most famous Rock
- Parrtjima – Central Australia’s festival in light
- Do the the Red Centre Way
- Olive Pink Gardens – a desert oasis
- Finke Desert Race – Australia’s off-road experience