Alice Springs is located in the geographic centre of Australia, and is the third largest town in the Northern Territory. Characterized by boundless desert landscapes, gorges, with a rich indigenous history, Alice Springs is a town like no other. With its amazing sights and great hike locations, it is also is a popular travel hub, thanks to the easy access from Alice Springs to Uluru and the iconic Larapinta trail.
If you have a few days to spare before or after your Larapinta Trail trek there are a number of sights, activities and destinations that you can visit to make the most out of your stay in Alice Springs. Whether you choose to stargaze in the evenings (the milky way is very prominent thanks to the minimal artificial lights as with larger cities), view the unique birds and wildlife that frequent the area, get a feel for the flora and fauna at the Desert Botanical Garden, or explore Australia's rich Aboriginal culture, there is a lot to see and do.
Here is our list of top places you can visit and things to do in Alice Springs before or after your Larapinta Trail trek.
One of the most popular attractions around Alice Springs is in fact a 6 hour drive from the city itself! Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is one of the most well known landmarks of Australia, with thousands of people flocking to see the natural wonder each year. And for good reason- Uluru plays a significant part in Australian indigenous culture and spirituality. The rich, ochre coloured desert against the blue skies make it a breathtaking site at any time of the day, however sunrise and sunset visits are the most spectacular as the colour of the rock changes from pink, to purple, to dark red as the sun moves across the sky.
The Alice Springs Reptile Center
The Alice Springs reptile center is home to a variety of unique lizards and some of the largest reptiles in Central Australia. Home to different species of reptiles such as geckos, lizards, and crocodiles that live in the Northern Territory, the reptiles are showcased indoors or housed in natural landscapes that mimic their normal living conditions. Some of the reptiles include “Terry”, the saltwater crocodile, which you can see from an underwater viewing area. Others include frill-neck lizards, geckos, thorny devils, and more.
Sounds of Starlight Theatre
For those keen on adding some art and culture into your visit, consider visiting the Sounds of Starlight Theatre. Featuring a modern theatre that has a retail shop and art gallery, it has regular didgeridoo shows that evoke the desert heart of Australia in performances that feature drums, percussion and soundscapes. The theater was established in 1996 by Andrew Langford, internationally recognised for his ability to play and interpret the didgeridoo. If you have time to spare, meet Andrew in the flesh and hear from the master himself by enrolling in Didgeridoo workshops that run every Monday-Friday from 11-11.30 am.
Alice Springs Desert Park
If you are planning to trek along the Larapinta Trail, there is no better way to initiate yourself with the landscape than with a visit to the Alice Springs Desert Park. As you explore the ancient desert and take in the stunning surrounds, make sure you bring your binoculars, as this is a fantastic space to bird-watch during the day. We recommend spending a few hours here to get a real feel for the ambience of the desert, plus enhance your chances of seeing some of the local wildlife going about their business.
The Kangaroo Sanctuary
The Kangaroo Sanctuary is home to a number of red kangaroos that featured in Kangaroo Dundee, a documentary that featured on BBC UK and National Geographic USA. Airing in over 90 countries, the documentary aims to raise awareness about the plight of kangaroos and showcases the work of Brogla and his aim to rescue and take care of kangaroos that have been raised by wildlife carers and cannot be released back into the wild.
The aim of the sanctuary is to educate and encourage people to rescue and take care of kangaroos that were orphaned in highway accidents, and is a wholesome way to spend a couple hours.
The Alice Springs Telegraph Station
Not far from the waterhole that gave its name to Alice Springs, the Old Telegraph Station was built in 1871 as part of the 3,000km long Adelaide to Darwin Overland Telegraph Line, and is the best preserved of the 12 stations along the Overland Telegraph Line. The Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve marks the original site of the first European Settlement in Alice Springs. It was operated for 60 years before serving as a school and welfare home for Aboriginal children of mixed ancestry until 1963. Nearby is the original "Alice" spring, a semi-permanent waterhole in the Todd river, after which the Alice Springs town is named. The Old Telegraph Station is the starting point for the Larapinta Trail, and gives an interesting insight into early European settlement in the Red Centre. The station is easily accessible by car through the Stuart Highway and the Herbert heritage drive. You can also use the riverside path along the Todd River for a short walk or cycle on the sealed path.
Climb Anzac Hill
If you have a spare morning or evening in Alice Springs, you should definitely make the time to take the short hike up Anzac Hill and take in the tranquil and breathtaking views across Alice Springs. Also known as “Untyeyetwelye”, it is located close to the centre of the town, and is a short 15 minute walk from the visitors centre to the lookout. Anzac Hill is a spectacular vantage point to view both the sunrise and sunset, with the backdrop of the MacDonnell Ranges in the distance. Plus, view the Anzac Hill War Memorial, dedicated to the fallen heroes who fought and died in World War One.
Alice Springs: Araluen Cultural Precinct
The Araluen cultural precinct is located in Larapinta drive and is a must visit when you are in Alice Springs. Home to some of the most interesting cultural and historical attractions in Alice Springs, it has an annual program of performances, exhibitions and films. With four galleries and a 500 seat theatre, it has some of the most significant works of art in Central Australia. You can easily spend a few hours roaming the impressive collection of art, sculptures and murals that grace the buildings.
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