Positioned in the heart of Australia, Alice Springs is a relaxed town offering an enchanting mix of landscapes, experiences, and attractions far removed from the everyday.
Alice Springs is 1535km north of Adelaide (16hr drive) and 1495km south of Darwin (16hr 10min drive).
By air, Melbourne to Alice Springs is a 2hr 40m flight, 2hr 50m from Sydney, and just a 2hr trip from Adelaide.
For its feeling of being somewhere completely different yet paradoxically familiar. For its breathtaking natural scenery, from rich red dirt to mind-blowing formations that are within grasp. For its powerful Aboriginal culture. And for so much more.
Alice Springs Desert Park
While it might be dry and dusty, the Australian desert is an intriguing landscape full of colour and activity and captivating wildlife. And this is the easiest way to experience its rugged beauty and mystique. Among Alice Springs’ best attractions, the desert park is divided into three distinct habitats each with its own appeal.
Highlights include an enthralling free-flight bird show, a nocturnal house, and a dingo exhibit. Allow at least half a day to witness it all.
Anzac Hill lookout
This central vantage point provides an excellent introduction to Alice Springs with its commanding panoramas of the town and wider surrounds. The lookout doubles as a memorial dedicated to Australians and New Zealanders who have fought in various conflicts. Access to Anzac Hill is via foot or a drive to a nearby car park.
Araluen Cultural Precinct
Spend time at a cluster of absorbing attractions in this popular precinct. They include:
In addition, Alice Springs has a huge concentration of art galleries showcasing excellent Aboriginal art. Several are found in and around Todd Mall.
Alice Springs Reptile Centre
This interactive attraction allows visitors thrilling up-close encounters with a host of interesting creatures, including goannas, thorny devils, and lizards.
From a much safer distance, admire the sheer size and imposing nature of a saltwater crocodile. An extensive gecko cave and daily shows enhance the visitor experience.
Royal Flying Doctor Service Alice Springs Tourist Facility
Uncover the inspiring story of the RFDS and its founder, John Flynn, at this action-packed museum. The challenges and obstacles faced by pilots in the service’s early days make for remarkable yarns retold through regular daily tours. Plenty to see, learn about, and admire.
Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve
Occupying a setting regarded as the birthplace of Alice Springs, the reserve offers fascinating exploration of a time far removed from the age of smartphones and the internet.
Australia’s Overland Telegraph Line provided the nation with a ground-breaking link to the rest of the world, comprehensively detailed via indoor and outdoor spaces. Informative guided tours are included in the admission fee.
Olive Pink Botanic Garden
Explore hundreds of plant species native to Central Australia within these relaxing surrounds. Walking trails expose the various plant life, and the path to Annie Myers Hill gifts superb views of Alice, the MacDonnell Ranges, and more. And there’s a highly rated café on site, too.
The Kangaroo Sanctuary
An extensive wildlife sanctuary for rescued orphaned baby kangaroos, as well as adult ‘roos, this attraction hosts fascinating guided tours at sunset each Tuesday-Friday. The comprehensive tours allow up-close encounters with these Aussie icons, including the chance to hold a baby kangaroo.
The absolute essential outing from Alice is exploration of Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park. This area explodes with spotlight-stealing natural creations, including Ormiston and Glen Helen gorges, Ellery Creek Big Hole, and Simpsons Gap.
Standley Chasm is privately owned but no less must-visit material, and the colourful Ochre Pits are another headliner. Simpsons Gap is just 20km from Alice with varying distances for other attractions.
While often overshadowed by its western cousin, the East MacDonnell Ranges are rich with rewards. Yeperenye/Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park is a culturally significant area worth exploring and is just 20km from Alice. Other star attractions include Trephina Gorge and Corroboree Rock.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
This national park needs little introduction, but we’re going to give it one anyway. A first-hand visit is the only way to truly appreciate the staggering size, intricacies, and power of this iconic Australian landmark. And that’s only part of the story. You could argue that Kata Tjuta is even more extraordinary to gaze at, and its highest peaks easily eclipse Uluru.
There are many ways to experience and explore the national park and understand its significance to Aboriginal Australia. And various Uluru tours are available from Alice Springs.
Distance: 470km southwest of Alice Springs.
Kings Canyon (Watarrka National Park)
Some locals will likely tell you that if you had to choose between one epic road trip – Uluru or Kings Canyon – they would choose the latter. The canyon’s towering and vivid sandstone walls and eye-catching crevices make for an incredible sight, whether you’re admiring it all from ground level or while following the popular rim walk.
Distance: 475km southwest of Alice Springs.
Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve
Dominated by captivating sandstone bluffs and cliffs – often changing colour – this reserve is a must for keen photographers. Among other quirky creations found in these parts is Mushroom Rock, which takes its striking shapes from the sculptural talents of Mother Nature. Several important archaeological sites are perched in these surrounds, too.
Distance: 105km south of Alice Springs (best accessed by 4WD).
There is a saying that ‘Alice Springs is closest to every beach in Australia’. While true, the town is roughly 1500km from any coastal beach.