Amazing Alice

Alice Springs is one of Australia’s most well known outback towns. It is almost in the centre of the Territory and lies between the West and East MacDonnell Ranges, and can be reached in a day’s drive from Darwin.

Most of the year you can enjoy sunny days, and wide, blue skies. The winter nights get very cold, so don’t forget your socks, and in summer the temperatures can soar to over 40 degrees. The best time to travel is spring and autumn, where the temperatures are not as extreme.

There is so much in this diverse town, which is the second largest in the Territory next to Darwin. You will find history in every corner, as the town was forged by brave pioneers and flying doctors who put Alice on the map. Make sure you visit the old telegraph station, which also offers bushwalking and pretty picnic spots. The Royal Flying Doctor service is known and loved by all Australians, and a visit to the original base is worthwhile to see the museum and enjoy the interactive tours.

The Alice Springs Reptile Centre also has to be seen, especially if you have boys with you (of any age!). You will be amazed at the large range of reptiles on show, including the frilly neck lizards, thorny devils, goannas, pythons and venomous snakes.

One of the highlights of your stay at Alice would have to be the ‘Spirit of the Night sky’, held at the Milky Way Café and Observatory in town. This educational and entertaining presentation, featuring powerful telescopes and displays will give you a greater insight into the heavenly realms.

The MacDonnell Range Holiday Park is recommended if you intend to stay here for a while. Set in an excellent, central location it has excellent amenities and there is plenty of room for the family.

Beyond the ranges surrounding Alice Springs are the Simpson and Tanami deserts. The Simpson is famous for its vast mesmerising dunes that go on forever, and although you can venture close should not be crossed unless you are with an experienced guide. Camel treks and four wheel drive expeditions are possible, although you won’t see many other people in this part of the world.

There are plenty of day trips not far from town which are just as fascinating. One popular natural attraction is the Rainbow Valley, located in the James ranges. You can also visit Chambers Pillar on the way which features rock carvings and is steeped in history.

Travel north from town and you will be awestruck by the natural beauty of the bush, with camping, bushwalking, gem fossicking all popular activities. Visit the Gemtree, where you can visit the gem fields on organised tours and actually find something to take home. They also offer a large camping ground if you are not in a hurry to head home. Spend some time out here and enjoy the wonders of the starlit skies. Nothing beats an open campfire in the outback, with a majestic sunrise waiting to greet you at dawn.

Heading south just over 100 kilometres, you will be rewarded by some of the most stunning scenery at Finke Gorge National Park. There are camping facilities at Palm Valley, known for its bountiful cabbage palms, if you prefer to stay longer.

If you can allow an extra few days, make sure you plan to visit the famous MacDonnell Ranges, which surround Alice Springs. The West MacDonnell ranges are easier to reach, with swimming holes and bushwalks winding through the spectacular gorges. Take your time and camp overnight, or leave at dusk and enjoy a picnic at a swimming hole. The East MacDonnell ranges are also incredibly beautiful, featuring the stunning Trephina Gorge.

Alice Springs is surrounded by the most incredible rugged Australian outback in the world. It is the ideal base to visit those hidden natural wonders that beg to be appreciated and enjoyed. Your hire car will give you all the flexibility you need to make the most of your holiday in the territory.