- Discover Alice Springs
Alice Springs was once a station on the Overland Telegraph Line, but now it's where travellers stop off on the way to Uluru. It's also worth stopping in the town itself for a few days if you have the time. Alice Springs is quite small but it does have a few attractions in the area. There's the Alice Springs Desert Park, just 5km out of town, at the base of the McDonnell ranges. Here you can see the regions' native wildlife up close, it's worth a visit. There's also a reptile centre on Stuart Terrace, and a camel farm which is 5km out of town on the Ross Highway. Alice is serviced by the Ghan, Greyhound, and flights. Alcie Springs is a great place to try hot air ballooning as the weather is perfect for it.
The iconic Bojangles pub has closed its doors but the Rock Bar next door is a good place to get some beers and some food. Also try the Red Ochre Grill Restaurant on the Todd Mall. Eat some Aussie tucker at Overlanders' Steakhouse on Hartley Street.
Alice Springs has quite a high murder rate, mostly amongst the indigenous population. Do not walk here at night. Get a taxi everywhere you go, even if you're only going 500m, it's just not worth it. One place to avoid is the Todd Street Mall. The dangers of Alice Springs can sometimes be overstated but don’t take chances and look after each other.
Around Alice Springs
The ranges are divided into the East McDonnell Ranges and the West McDonnell Ranges. The West McDonnell Ranges are more popular with day trippers as it's great for bushwalking. If you want to go on longer trips, anything from overnight to a couple of weeks, register with the Voluntary Walker Registration Scheme. As the name suggests you don't have to register, but it is recommended. The Larapinta trail is one of the more popular trails in the area.
The East McDonnell Ranges don't get as much visitors, so there are no facilities here. Bring everything you need. They're around 100km out of Alice Springs. Get your maps before you leave town in the Alice Springs visitor centre. Always bring plenty of water. You need to drink up to four litres a day in the desert.
Kings' Canyon is quite a spectacular site and it's worth doing the 6km walk around it as opposed to the shorter walks. The first part, which is fittingly called 'heart attack hill', is the worst part, after that it's a breeze. You will walk along the rim of the canyon, with its' smooth cliff faces. Be careful, there are reports of people falling off the edge, there are no barriers. You will then enter the 'garden of eden', where there is lush vegetation and rock pools. Then there's the lost city, which are eroded domes of rock that almost look man made.
Otherwise known as Ayers' Rock and the Olgas, these are the age old aboriginal names for them. The Anangu tribe lived in this region and the park has many deeply significant places for them. Check out the Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park cultural centre across the road from the rock. It will give you an idea of the importance of Uluru to the indigenous people. In their culture only an important elder of the group could climb the rock, so they get very offended by the tourists climbing it. They compare it to climbing on the Popes' alter to a catholic. Quite a few tourists have died on the rock climb and this hurts the Aboriginal people deeply. The base walk will give you a better view of the actual rock anyways. There are shorter walks as well, such as the Mala walk, and the Mutitjulu walk.
Uluru is the worlds' largest monolith, but what you see is only a small fraction of it. The rest is underground. At 348m high it's still quite a large section. The best time to get the obligatory photo of Uluru is at sunset. What most people do is go to the main lookout at sunset and then go to the other side for sunrise. The best thing to do is go to the main area for both. You should have the place to yourself as well as getting a different perspective, rather than seeing the exact same thing in reverse.
30km to the west stand the Olgas. These are massive eroded rocks. Climbing is prohibited in this area. There's a short track into the Olga Gorge, but the best is the 7.4km long Valley of the winds walk. The valley is quite beautiful. Many people prefer Kata Tjuta to Uluru and feel that Uluru is something that has to be done for a photo opportunity, after all nothing says you're in Oz than a picture of you standing in front of Uluru.
Yulara is the main resort in the area. It's a great base but it is quite expensive. A small airport services the area, only 5 km away. Uluru is five hours drive from Alice so this is a good option.
If you're on a budget there is a camp ground in the area, the Ayers Rock Resort Camp Ground.
You can fly into Alice Springs from most major cities in Australia.
Flight times to Alice Springs
From Sydney 2.5 hours | Adelaide 2 hours | Melbourne 3 hours | Darwin 2 hours | Perth 2.5 hours
“The Ghan” stops in Alice Springs on its way between Adelaide and Darwin.
The Stuart Highway connects Alice Springs to Darwin in the north and Adelaide in the south. It takes 18.5 hours from Darwin and 16.5 hours from Adelaide.
Greyhound Australia connects Alice Springs to Darwin and Adelaide.
The public bus service is called Asbus and covers the city centre. Tickets are around $2.
There is a rank near the visitor centre. You can call a taxi from your hotel or hotel.
Alice Springs has quite a high murder rate, mostly amongst the indigenous population. Do not walk here at night. Get a taxi everywhere you go, even if you're only going 500m, it's just not worth the risk. One place to avoid is the Todd Street Mall, although the city centre is much better policed now than it used to be. Don’t hand over money or cigarettes or anything else to beggars. The dangers of Alice Springs can sometimes be overstated but don’t take chances and look after each other.
Alice Springs to Dublin - 18.5 hours
Alice Springs to London - 18 hours
Alice Springs to Hong Kong - 7 hours
Alice Springs to New York - 20.5 hours
Alice Springs to San Diego - 16 hours
Alice Springs to Sydney - 3 hours