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Stay and play – Alice Springs, NT

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. 

You'll quickly fall in love with the Red Centre. Location: Kangaroo Sanctuary. Credit: Tourism NT/Helen Orr.

Where is it?

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.

Why go?

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.

Incredible natural creations like Ormiston Gorge are within Alice's grasp. Credit: Tourism NT/Jesse Lindeman.

The essentials – things to do in Alice Springs, NT

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.

The bird show at Alice Springs Desert Park is a highlight. Credit: Tourism NT/Yuri Kardashyan.

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.

Get your bearings atop centrally located Anzac Hill. Credit: Tourism NT/Jordan Hammond.

Araluen Cultural Precinct

Spend time at a cluster of absorbing attractions in this popular precinct. They include:

  • Museum of Central Australia: Impressive displays detail the geological history of the Red Centre.
  • Central Australian Aviation Museum: Well-presented exhibits retrace the region’s aviation past.
  • Araluen Arts Centre: Houses a huge collection of works created by talented local artists or those with a deep connection to the area. Includes many artworks of renowned watercolourist, Albert Namatjira.

The Central Australian Aviation Museum is worth checking out. Credit: Tourism NT.

In addition, Alice Springs has a huge concentration of art galleries showcasing excellent Aboriginal art. Several are found in and around Todd Mall.

Visiting a gallery is an essential Alice experience. Pictured: Yubu Napa. Credit: Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught.

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.

Enjoy enthralling encounters at the reptile centre. Credit: Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught.

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.

Retrace an inspiring story at this RFDS attraction. Credit: Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught.

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.

The telegraph station explores an interesting time in Australia.

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.

There's plenty to spy at the gardens. Credit: Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught.

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.

Meet an Aussie icon at the Kangaroo Sanctuary. Credit: Tourism NT/Jewels Lynch.

Day trips from Alice Springs, NT

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.

Glen Helen Gorge is one of many stars sprinkled within Tjoritja. Credit: Tourism NT/Mitchell Cox.

Simpsons Gap is another eye-catcher. Credit: Tourism NT/Jarrad Seng.

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.

Don't forget the east: Yeperenye/Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park.

Attractions further afield from Alice Springs, NT

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.

Uluru is simply extraordinary. Credit: Tourism NT/Backyard Bandits.

Kata Tjuta is equally as impressive as Uluru. Credit: Tourism NT/Kyle Hunter.

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.

Kings Canyon is every bit as bewitching as Uluru. 

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).

It's all sunshine and Rainbow Valley in these parts. Credit: Tourism NT/Jess Caldwell and Luke Riddle.

Random fact

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.

No beaches out here. Just incredible landscapes. Credit Tourism NT/Jackson Groves.

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