Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs, Northern Territory © Tourism NT/KWP!
4 days along the Red Centre Arts Trail
The Northern Territory is defined by its vibrant arts, cultural heritage and creative industries born out of its unique history and diversity, including being home to some of the oldest continuous living cultures on Earth.
Some of Australia’s most significant cultural arts sites are found in the Northern Territory. Some are easily accessible; some are a bit more remote and some are still relatively undiscovered.
This four-day arts trail itinerary will open your eyes to the many amazing and fascinating arts experiences in Alice Springs, and teach you just how important art and culture are to this desert region.
Day 1: An introduction to Alice Springs
Begin your art adventure in Alice Springs, an outback town known for its vibrant desert art.
Get acquainted with ‘Alice’ on a guided cultural walk with Journey the Dreaming, where you’ll learn about the profound connection Aboriginal people have with the land. Alice Springs local Alison will teach you about the natural and cultural environment around you, as well as how the surrounding landscapes contribute to the style of art created here.
After your tour, visit the Tjanpi Desert Weavers gallery on Wilkinson Street. Tjanpi (meaning 'grass' in the Pitjantjatjara language) is a social enterprise that represents over 400 Anangu/Yarnangu women artists from 26 remote communities who earn an income from their contemporary fibre art. Peruse an ever-evolving selection of Tjanpi baskets, sculptures, jewellery, merchandise and books.
Day 2: Visit Alice Springs’ art centres
There are several art galleries, cultural centres and workshops in Alice Springs, and each one offers something unique.
Araluen Arts Centre is known to locals as the ‘keeping place of stories’, housing some of the most significant works of art in Central Australia. Wander through the gallery, explore the museum and book into a cultural event at the in-house theatre.
Next, visit Tangentyere Artists, where you’ll find art representing more than 20 Central Australian languages. Make your final stop the Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre. Here, local Arrente artists come together to paint and share new ideas. The schedule here is always changing, so make sure you call ahead to see when you can watch artists at work.
Day 3: Create your own masterpiece
Today, take the opportunity to create your own masterpiece with Kumalie Riley from Tinkerbee. You’ll learn about traditional symbols and explore Indigenous storytelling through art and culture, all while creating your own piece of art. But you won’t just leave with new artwork; you’ll also leave with new insight into the local Arrente people.
After crafting your own artwork, wander through the Telegraph Station Historical Reserve, about a ten-minute drive from the centre of town. The station preserves one of the area’s original European settlement sites.
Day 4: Explore ancient rock art
Today is all about enjoying art in one of its most ancient forms. Make an early start for the 45-minute drive to the Napwerte/Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve.
This reserve has some of the highest concentrations of petroglyphs (rock carvings) in the Northern Territory. Short walks will bring you to marvel at this ancient art form. You’ll see a range of different symbols and motifs, though their age and meanings are unknown to most; this knowledge is kept between senior Arrernte men.
Head about 30 minutes north to visit one more incredible rock art site. Yeperenye (Emily and Jessie Gaps) Nature Park carvings depict the Caterpillar Dreamtime story.
From Yeperenye (Emily and Jessie Gaps) Nature Park, you can drive just a few minutes back to Alice Springs, or explore further into the East MacDonnell Ranges. Though not as well-known as the ‘West Macs’, the ‘East Macs’ are equally beautiful and offer even more Aboriginal art experiences.