Alice Springs | Northern Territory
European settlement in Alice Springs dates back to 1871 with the building of the Overland Telegraph line linking Australia with Europe. 'The Alice', as it is affectionately known, is almost at the geographical centre of Australia, and around 1500km from Darwin and Adelaide.
The heart of Alice Springs is Todd Mall, with many attractions in the vicinity. There are galleries selling Aboriginal art, crafts, textiles and pottery, with the opportunity to see the artists at work, and an Aboriginal Art and Culture Centre. The Adelaide House Museum has an exhibit explaining the origins and workings of The Royal Flying Doctor Service and daily tours are available at the Stuart Terrace base. The National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame is in the old Court House. Close by, the Sounds of Starlight Theatre has a show April-Nov depicting a musical journey through Central Australia. Also nearby are Minerals House, with geological displays; Old Stuart Gaol; and Anzac Hill, with views over the town. The Todd River doesn't flow much. In fact, it's usually dry and the venue for the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, an unusual 'sailing' event where competitors carry their 'boats' for the whole course of the race.
In the northern suburbs are the School of the Air, Australia's first radio school for children in remote areas, and the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve. The painstakingly restored stone buildings of the reserve have displays of photographs and documents portraying life in the early days of settlement. West of the mall are the Araluen Arts Centre, the Museum of Central Australia and, further along Larapinta Dr, the Alice Springs Desert Park. The latter features animals and plants in a natural desert habitat and explains their traditional use by Aboriginal people. There are also 8 walk-through aviaries and the world's largest nocturnal house. To the south-east, across the Todd River, are Lasseter's Casino and the 16ha Olive Pink Botanic Gardens, which is the most developed arid-zone botanic garden in Australia. For visitors wanting to make a circuit of the many local attractions the green and yellow Alice Wanderer Bus service provides a pleasant and easy way to see the sights. Hot-air balloon flights from Alice Springs are very popular, as are tours by bus, 4WD, Harley Davidson motorcycle, helicopter, light aircraft and, for the more adventurous, camel treks.
Alice Springs is the ideal base from which to travel around the entire Red Centre region. At Gemtree, 135km NE, visitors can prospect for zircons and join guided fossicking tours. To the east (7km), the Frontier Camel Farm offers camel rides. The Ross Hwy also leads to The Date Gardens, Australia's first commercial date farm; Chateau Hornsby Winery (11km); Emily Gap (13km); and Jessie Gap (18km). Further into the East MacDonnell Ranges, the highway also leads to Corroboree Rock; Trephina and N'dhala Gorges; Ross River Homestead; and Arltunga Historical Reserve. To the west are Rev John Flynn's grave (5km), Simpsons Gap (17km), Standley Chasm (50km), Ellery Creek Big Hole (93km), Serpentine Gorge (104km), Ochre Pits (119km), Ormiston and Glen Helen gorges (about 132km) and Redbank Gorge (170km, 4WD only). Most of these are in the West MacDonnell NP, as is the acclaimed walking track, the Larapinta Trail. Larapinta Dr also leads to Her-mannsburg (125km) and Palm Valley in Finke Gorge NP (140km, 4WD only).
To the south are the Transport Hall of Fame and the Ghan Preservation Society's Rail Museum at MacDonnell Siding (10km). The Ghan railway was replaced in 1980, but visitors can still travel the Old Ghan to Ewaninga. Side roads from the Stuart Hwy to the south lead to Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve (35km), an Aboriginal cultural site; the magnificent Rainbow Valley (99km); Henbury Meteorite Craters (147km); and Chambers Pillar (149km), a 50m-high sandstone pillar, which served as a landmark for early explorers.
TourismNT | 2009-01-05 | We had a plan. We'd tackle the 1500 kilometres of highway from Darwin to Alice, nicknamed 'the track' by locals, and visit some of the lesser known attractions along the way. | read more
TourismNT | 2009-01-05 | Located in the Northern Territory's Red Centre, Alice Springs is a thriving, spirited outback centre with accommodation and dining - but it's as famous for the personality of its locals as the natural wonders that surround it. | read more
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