Top 10 Must See Places in Alice Springs

Alice Springs, outback, Australia

It’s a question we get asked all the time: We’re coming to Alice Springs. What should we see and do?

So this post is dedicated to you  – even if you’ve only got a day or a few hours in town.

We’ve also made sure that all of the places we’ve written about here are easy to get to. You can either walk to or drive to all of them in less than 20 minutes from the town’s centre.

If you had to pick just one attraction from them because you’ve got limited time, then we strongly recommend the Alice Springs Desert Park.

However, for each attraction we’ve written about below, we’ve made sure that you’ll experience a different aspect of Alice Springs: nature, culture, history, Aboriginal culture and art, and a spectacular gorge.

We hope you enjoy this page, and that it encourages you to explore our home town.

1. The Alice Springs Desert Park

 

This is the ONE place that you absolutely must see when you visit Alice Springs.

Why?

The Alice Springs Desert park is part adventure safari park, and part hands-on natural history museum.

You’ll get face-to-face with kangaroos, emus, birds of prey, walk-thru aviaries and the biggest nocturnal house in the Southern Hemisphere, whilst learning just how diverse and full of life Australia’s deserts are.

It’s about $50 entry for a family, but it’s well worth it. You’ll need at least 3 hours to explore, and once you get inside everything is free.

The Alice Springs Desert Park is located 8km west of the town centre on Larapinta Drive. Open daily from 7am-6pm.

2. The Alice Springs Telegraph Station

This is where the town of Alice Springs started – where the Overland Telegraph Station established a repeater station and an iconic town was born.

It’s also the place where the real Alice ‘spring’ is located.

You can look through the beautifully restored historic Telegraph Station buildings, learn about the tough pioneers and the Aboriginal people who helped them establish the town.

It’s also a favourite picnic and BBQ destination for locals, with shady trees, lots of lush grass and free gas BBQs.

Cost to tour the heritage buildings is $6.60 per adult. Cost to look over the fence, visit the ‘spring’ and use the BBQs: FREE.

It’s an easy half hour walk along the Todd River to the Telegraph Station if you don’t have a car. By car, it’s 3km north of town on the Stuart Highway.

3. The Royal Flying Doctor Service

 

Royal Flying Doctor Service

Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service is an Outback legend.

And Alice Springs is its birthplace and home.

So one of the places high on your agenda should be the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s (RFDS) Visitor centre.

There’s a thoroughly detailed museum (guided tours are available), a giftshop and one of Alice’s very best cafes in shady grounds (try a homemade meat pie. They’re extraordinarily scrumptious!).

The RFDS Visitor’s Centre is open 7 days per week. It’s a short 600m walk along Hartley Street, south from the Post Office. Cost is around $6 per adult.

4. Araluen Cultural Precinct

 The Araluen Cultural Precinct is home to four art galleries, three museums and a theatre!

The arts museum has a large collection of paintings from all over Central Australia, including works by Albert Namatjira.

The Strehlow Research Centre for Aboriginal Culture, the Museum of Central Australia and the Connellan Aviation Museum are also located in the Precinct.

Also located in the grounds of the Precinct are two sacred sites that are part of the Two Women Dreaming Story, which is important to Central Arrernte women.

There’s a small entry charge to visit the everything in the Precinct. You’ll need about 2 hours to see everything here.

The Araluen Cultural Precinct is located 2km west of the town centre, on Larapinta Drive.

5. Todd Mall

 

You can’t visit Alice Springs unless you at least take a wander along Todd Mall.

Todd Mall is the centre of Alice Springs, and is the place to wander through Aboriginal art galleries, buy souvenirs and momentos, grab a book from Red Kangaroo Books and savour the very best coffee whilst dining alfresco.

You can also learn to play didgeridoo (although you should note that didgeridoos are not traditionally used by Arrernte people – they are from Arnhem Land).

Every second Sunday, the Todd Mall markets are on (entry is free), which is a great way to meet locals and savour some tasty Thai, Indian or Vietnamese food and grab yourself a legendary Todd Mall mango sorbet.

6. Anzac Hill/Unteyetwelye

 

The place to take spectacular sunrise and sunset photos of the MacDonnell Ranges.

Located at the northern end of Bath Street, right in the centre of town, is Anzac Hill. It’s a short climb up a few steps, and then you’re at the top.

This prominent hill is THE place to get your best happy snaps of Alice Springs and to take a good look around the town (and see that it’s really a lot bigger than most people imagine it is).

And whilst you’re taking in the view, remember that this hill is a Sacred Site for Central Arrernte women, associated with corkwood honey and childraising.

The name of the hill in Arrernte is quite confronting: Untyeyetwelye.

It’s actually quite easy to say: oon-GEE-AAH-tull-yah.

Say the ‘oon’ at the beginning of the word like the ‘u’ sound in ‘pull’ and you’ll be learning Arrernte arretyeye … proper true!

7. The School of the Air

 

Along with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the School of the Air is an outback legend, also started in Alice Springs.

Ever wondered how children in remote parts of the Northern Territory and elsewhere go to school?

The answer: the School of the Air.

This is the world’s biggest classroom and it’s open to the public. Take a visit and you’ll be able to see firsthand how children on remote cattle stations (‘ranches’ – but PLEASE don’t call them that!), go to school.

The School of the Air is located in Head Street (in the part of town known as ‘Northside’ or ‘Braitling’). It’s about a 30 minute walk from the town centre or a 5 minute drive up the north Stuart Highway.

Tours operate daily from 9am-5pm. A small entry fee applies, which assists with the running of the centre. 

8. Flynn’s Grave

If you’re heading out to the Desert Park, then just few hundred metres on is the memorial grave of John Flynn, founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

John Flynn’s ashes are interred here, under this massive stone.

There’s a story to the rock: the original memorial rock was stolen from the Devils Marbles, without the permission of the site’s Aboriginal custodians.

In 2000, the marble was returned to its home amidst much ceremony and fanfare, after Senior Arrernte man, Wenten Rubunjta and Alice Springs custodians found a similar rock to replace it.

Whilst there’s not a lot to do here (unless you’re a keen walker), this is a great spot in the early mornings and late afternoons to take photos of the sun on the MacDonnell Ranges.

If you are a keen hiker, you can access a track which will take you to the top of Mount Gillen, the peak directly behind Flynn’s Grave. This return walk takes about 2 hours, and is for fit people only.

9. Emily and Jessie Gaps

Pack a picnic, a camera and enjoy the serenity of some very sacred Arrernte sites.

Emily and Jessie Gaps are deep, shady gaps in the Heavitree (MacDonnell) Range, located about 15 and 30km, respectively, from Alice Springs (we suggest you drive).

There’s good picnic tables and toilets here, but the real attraction are the sacred beeswax, fat and ochre paintings which contain sacred symbols of the Caterpillar Dreamings for which both gaps are sacred.

Both gaps are fabulous for afternoon photographs, paddles in the pools (if water is present) and just relaxing.

To access both gaps, head south from Alice Springs through Heavitree Gap and turn left onto the Ross Highway.

10. Simpsons Gap

Want to see one of those spectacular, photo-ready masterpiece gorges and waterholes that Central Australia is famous for, but don’t have much time? Then Simpsons Gap, located only 18km west of Alice Springs is your answer.

There’s plenty to see and do at Simpsons Gap, including walks to Cassia Hill and the 18km Woodland Trail.

There’s a short, wheelchair-friendly walk to the Gap itself, free gas BBQs, picnic tables and toilets.

If you look carefully amongst the rock walls leading into the Gap, you might see a Black-Footed Rock Wallaby or two.

Those who don’t have a car can visit Simpsons Gap as part of the Alice Wanderer hop-on, hop-off bus service.

What’s your must-see place in Alice Springs?

Tell us in the comments section below.

Amanda is an anthropologist and archaeologist. She now runs her own cultural heritage management business and also works with the Aboriginal Interpreter Service (she speaks an Aboriginal language). Amanda is also a runner, gym goer and serious hiker (if there’s a hill to be climbed, she’ll do it) and worked as a fitness instructor for over 20 years. She believes a bushwalk is not a real walk unless it’s over 10km. She’s also the designer and coder behind Travel Outback Australia.

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