Welcome to Alice Springs
The third-largest town in Australia’s Red Centre, Alice Springs acts as a gateway to the Northern Territory and the Outback—and to a cultural understanding of Aboriginal Australia. Colonial and Aboriginal influences are strong here, and top sights include the Alice Springs Telegraph Station (built in 1872) for history, Alice Springs Desert Park for native wildlife, and numerous museums and indigenous art galleries. Yet for most visitors, the magic happens beyond Alice Springs. The vast, culturally and geologically rich landscapes that surround Alice Springs are best experienced via the informative guided tours that leave town for a day, two—or even six. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, a relatively brief four-hour drive away, tops most tours’ itineraries. The park’s crown jewel is Uluru, aka Ayers Rock, whose sheer mass and ochre hues astound even the most geology-averse. Circumambulate its base for a pilgrimage-like experience of this Aboriginal sacred site. You can even get an unforgettable view of “the Rock” on a sunrise hot-air balloon flight. Nearby, the equally impressive Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) are enormous, huddled rocks whose gorges and valleys are popular for hiking. Some tours also visit Kings Canyon, with dramatic sandstone domes, sheer red cliffs, and native wildlife. Closer to town lie the rugged West MacDonnell Ranges, and day-long tours hit highlights such as Simpsons Gap and Ellery Creek Big Hole. And serious bushwalkers can spend five nights hiking and camping along the Outback’s Larapinta Trail.