Guide to Alice Springs
In the heart of Australia lies Alice Springs, a surprising town brimming with arts, culture and history.
By Stephanie Squadrito
Surrounded by ochre sands and hauntingly beautiful mountain ranges is Alice Springs, a city perhaps surprisingly full of arts, events and culture despite its remoteness. Known to locals simply as "Alice", it's the beating heart of Australia's Red Centre and one of the largest towns in the Northern Territory. Alice is also a fascinating spot to explore Australia's Aboriginal culture and unique wildlife.
While there is plenty to do in the town itself, Alice Springs is also a great base for exploring the natural wonders of the outback, including Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, the West MacDonnell Ranges.
- Get up close and personal with native wildlife at The Kangaroo Sanctuary
- Uncover the secrets of the desert at the Alice Springs Desert Park
- Discover the work of noted Indigenous artists at Araluen Arts Centre
It's our backyard. We want you to fall in love with it and enjoy it as much as we do.
Things to do and top attractions in Alice Springs
Visit Aboriginal art galleries
Australian Aboriginal art is the oldest ongoing art tradition in the world. Early Aboriginal stories and culture were expressed in rock carvings, body painting and ground designs. In the 1970s, paints and canvas were introduced to the community and many locals began taking advantage of these new, Western mediums. Explore galleries lining Todd Mall such as the Papunya Tula gallery, owned and directed by traditional Aboriginal people, or visit the Araluen Arts Centre, which includes works by one of the most famous Aboriginal artists, Albert Namatjira. Head to the Tjanpi Desert Weavers shop in town for woven baskets, jewellery and sculptures handmade by local artisans.
Discover Alice Springs' foodie highlights
Start your day in the town’s pedestrian-only main street, Todd Mall, and grab breakfast at one of the bustling cafés. The trendy Cafe Uccello offers homemade cannoli and nutritious breakfast bowls in an Instagrammable millennial pink setting. Then take a stroll through the historic Olive Pink Botanic Gardens and admire the native flora before grabbing a bite at the onsite eatery, Bean Street Cafe. For an afternoon tipple, head to Alice Springs Brewing Co to sample locally produced craft beer. Complete your culinary adventure with a three-course barbecue dinner at Earth Sanctuary Alice Springs. You'll be awed by the blanket of stars that hang overhead, as well as the insight into ecology, culture and astronomy offered by your hosts.
Take a sunset tour of The Kangaroo Sanctuary
Located just a 10-minute drive outside of Alice Springs is The Kangaroo Sanctuary, a picturesque wildlife reserve dedicated to caring for kangaroos. The 188-acre property is home to orphaned or injured kangaroos, all of which are nursed back to health with the aim of being released into the wild. To get up close and personal with the cuddly creatures, you’ll need to book a sunset tour of the sanctuary. The kangaroos sleep throughout the daytime, so the three-hour tours are taken in the late afternoon when the roos begin to wake. Experience a leisurely walk through the sanctuary, learn about the iconic Australian animal from one of the passionate guides, and get the chance to hold a baby kangaroo yourself.
While hiring a car will make reaching the Red Centre's attractions easier, you can also get to some of Alice Springs' sites by public bus or by bike. Outback Cycling offers half-day, full-day and one-week bicycle hire.
Get to know the culture of the outback
No trip to Alice is complete without exploring the town’s historic attractions. Visit the Telegraph Station Historical Reserve, a heritage precinct preserving one of the original sites of European settlement in the area, for a guided tour, walk or picnic. Head to the School of the Air Visitor Centre where you can sit in on a virtual lesson with children who live in remote parts of Australia's centre. Wander through the Museum of Central Australia to discover the region’s history – from megafauna to colonisation – through photographs, interactive exhibits and talks. At the Alice Springs Desert Park, you'll uncover the secrets of the desert, from learning how Aboriginal people find food or medicines in the desert to discovering the clever ways plants and animals have adapted to the environment.
Visit for one of the town’s lively festivals
Alice Springs is home to an exciting events calendar. Celebrate the living culture of the Aboriginal people at Parrtjima, a 10-night festival of light held annually in April. See artwork from the oldest continuous culture on earth light up with new technology and take part in workshops, talks, film and music. If you’re visiting in August, make sure to plan your itinerary around the Rotary Henley on Todd Regatta. It’s a boat race unlike any other, where teams tow their makeshift vessels along the dry bed of the Todd River. This one-of-a-kind event highlights the larrikin culture of the Northern Territory, where nothing is taken too seriously. Other highlights include the Desert Festival and Wide Open Space Festival.
Explore Australia's Red Centre
As the only town in Australia’s red centre, Alice Springs is the perfect base from which to explore the fascinating natural wonders of the area. Visit the unforgettable rock formations of Uluru and Kata Tjuta, a five-hour drive from Alice Springs, with a unique Camel Tour. Test your hiking fitness with the Larapinta Trail, which begins at the Telegraph Station, or the Kings Canyon Rim Walk, about a 3.5-hour drive from Alice Springs. Take in the beauty of the outback with a helicopter ride over the West MacDonnell Ranges, or cool off with a swim in the Ormiston Gorge and Pound – both are less than a 1.5-hour drive from Alice. If you’re road-tripping with a 4WD, go off-road and explore the Finke Gorge National Park, home to one of the oldest rivers in the world and unique red cabbage palm trees.