Alice Springs was built around a series of springs that were found in the middle of a desert in the Australian outback. Now, Alice Springs is one of the largest towns in its territory and tourism is major part of the economy. This is a destination that caters to a range of travelers, from budget backpackers to luxury travelers. There are many things to do in Alice Springs that give you the chance to experience the rich history of the town and the beautiful natural landscapes surrounding it. Check out our list below.
The West MacDonnell National Park is definitely worth a visit as it is home to stunning diverse landscapes and some of the best things to do in Alice Springs. This Australian national park is only about 9 km away from town and stretches along the West MacDonnell Mountain Range. It includes several well-known natural attractions including the Ormiston Gorge, Simpsons Gap, Stanley Chasm and Serpentine Gorge. Many of these attractions are considered must-sees on an Alice Springs itinerary and include a variety of noteworthy mountain peaks, gorges, and even naturally colorful rocks.
There are several trails that lead through the attractions in the park, one being the popular Larapinta Trail. The trail begins at Alice Springs and extends for an astounding 233 km, following the MacDonnell Ranges and passing through many of the top sites and the most beautiful scenery of the park.
Another West MacDonnell National Park activity to do from Alice Springs is explore a hidden gem — the Ormiston Gorge. This gorge has a natural pool surrounded by tall walls of rock which is a popular swimming spot for visitors, and full of fantastic scenery.
Located along Finke River, known to be one of the oldest river systems in the world, Finke Gorge National Park is another protected area just under a two-hour car ride from Alice Springs (140km). The park is home to Palm Valley oasis, home to unique plant species native to the area. It’s also a place with major cultural importance to the Aboriginal people of Australia.
At Finke Gorge you can go bushwalking and enjoy the scenic views of valleys covered in greenery among the prominent red sandstone from a variety of lookouts. You can even camp in the park for an extra fee. If you are a keen driver, many areas of the park, like the Finke River Route to Illamurta Springs, can only be accessed with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Another place to experience the natural landscape of Alice Springs is the Alice Springs Desert Park. This park is designated as an educational site for learning about sustainable maintenance and preservation of a desert environment. The park holds three walkthrough exhibits that showcase different desert habitats and feature both plants and animals, many of which are native to this central Australian region. There are even shows held frequently about the animals, such as the popular bird flight show, or even one to learn more about the Aboriginals of the region.
The park opens from 6.30 in the morning to 7 in the evening and includes an entrance fee for visitors.
Any snake-lovers out there? The Alice Springs Reptile Center is an option to get up close to the unique fauna found in Alice Springs and is something to do that will be enjoyed by all ages. This center, located in town, is home to over 100 reptiles, some of the favorites being lizards, snakes, and the famous thorny dragon. Many of these reptiles found here have been collected or rescued from around Alice Springs and the surrounding area. The guides in the center help provide information on each of the animals.
Regular shows are held each day at 11 am, 1 pm and 3.30 pm, during which visitors can handle the reptiles while being supervised by the park’s caretakers. Visiting the center requires an entry fee that varies depending on the number of people in a group.
Open 9:30am – 5pm daily.
If you are into sightseeing and history, the Residency is one of the top places in town to visit. An important building to the locals of Alice Springs, the Residency is the symbol and reminder of a brief independence from the rest of the territory. Historically, it served as the residence of important political figures in Alice Springs and the Northern Territory, but has since been converted into a venue that displays art and artifacts of the town’s history. Everything you’d need or want to know about Alice Springs can be discovered here. Visitors can explore the historic house and garden. It is a great place to have a tea or coffee break in a heritage setting and get the chance to talk to a local.
Open 10am – 3pm Monday-Friday.
You must visit Alice Springs if you want to learn more about the Aboriginals of Australia. They were the first people who occupied the lands and have left tons of evidence of their past lives. Many of these artifacts can be seen in the Aboriginal Australia Culture Center. The center lets you explore the history and learn more about these indigenous people of Australia. Video presentations, a museum and an art gallery each provide a different perspective on the cultural heritage. You can even see traditional aboriginal artwork being made onsite. After exploring the culture center, stop by the gift shop for locally made handicrafts.
Another site for curious history buffs, this 70-year-old Adelaide House Museum was once a hospital before being transformed into a museum highlighting memorabilia of Rev. John Flynn. An important historical figure in Alice Springs, Rev. John Flynn helped shaped a lot of medical advances that began in this town. The architecture is impressive and the building is notable for its advanced cooling system. The museum takes you through the life of Flynn and showcases his many medical accomplishments. It also features items such as clothing and daily used materials.
The House Museum is open from Monday to Saturday 10am – 4pm.
You can’t visit Alice Springs without stopping by Anzac Hill. The entire hill is symbolic for Australians who fought in wars throughout history, and you’ll find a memorial for WWI soldiers on the top. It also offers an amazing viewpoint; a scenic panoramic view over Alice Springs and the surrounding landscapes including the MacDonnell Range. The hike up the hill is a popular activity, visitors come to the hill to enjoy the beautiful sunrises and sunsets over Alice Springs.
It may be hard deciding what to do in Alice Springs since there are clearly so many options! Although Alice Springs is located in ‘the red center’, the deserts of central Australia, it is a large city with a lot of history and spectacular natural landscapes, and the scenery is picturesque from anywhere in the town. Visitors can also get a chance to experience the Aboriginal heritage which has left its mark on the town. Whether you plan to stay a few days in the city or just transitioning, Alice Springs a great destination in the Australian Outback and definitely one worth taking a tour.