Begin your Central Australian adventure in Alice Springs, headquarters of the outback and only a few hours’ flying time from Australian capital cities.
Nestled between the East and West MacDonnell Ranges, ‘Alice’ is famous for its beautiful desert landscapes, colourful outback characters, opportunities for adventure and a strong Aboriginal culture.
Uluru is an easy five-hour drive from Alice Springs.
Do Alice Springs
There’s plenty to do in and around Alice.
Watch the sunrise from a hot-air balloon, meet Aboriginal artists in one of the town’s excellent galleries, join a four-wheel-drive and camping tour or hike through the nearby ranges.
Or explore the desert landscapes on a camel, quad bike or mountain bike. You can even swim in an outback waterhole.
Drop in to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which supports an area of more than 7 million square kilometres then learn about Alice Springs’s plants, animals and landscapes at the Alice Springs Desert Park or the Alice Springs Reptile Centre. Head just out of town to cuddle a baby kangaroo at the Kangaroo Sanctuary.
Exploring the Macs
The West and East MacDonnell Ranges stretch out either side of Alice Springs and are a must-visit on your trip to the Red Centre.
Join a tour or drive yourself to explore the West MacDonnell Ranges, famous for their postcard-like scenery, world-class hikes, swimming holes and natural treasures.
See black-footed rock wallabies near the permanent waterhole at Simpsons Gap. At noon, watch the walls of Standley Chasm glow bright red. Swim in natural swimming holes at Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen and Redbank Gorge. And visit the Ochre Pits, which desert Aboriginal people once used as a quarry for ochre pigments.
Head east from Alice to explore the East MacDonnell Ranges.
See Aboriginal rock art at Emily Gap and have a picnic at nearby Jessie Gap. Take the circular walking track at Corroboree Rock then head for Trephina Gorge, one of the East’s best attractions.
Further along in N'Dhala Gorge (4WD only from here), see more than 5000 ancient rock carvings then wander around the ruins of Central Australia’s first town at the Arltunga Historical Reserve, the site of a gold rush in the 1930s. Head a little further east to explore pretty Ruby Gap, where tiny garnets were once found.
Fun and quirky events
Make sure you go along to one of Alice’s famous and unique festivals and events, like the Camel Cup, the Finke Desert Race or the hilarious Henley-on-Todd Regatta.