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Alice Springs is a remote town in Australia’s Northern Territory, located half way between Adelaide and Darwin in the heart of the red centre.
It took us 3 days to travel from Darwin to Alice and before I arrived I expected to see a dry desert town with red sand everywhere, but too my amazement even though there is red sand everywhere it is still a green little town, with most having lush green lawns.
The area of Alice Springs is an interesting place to explore with its harsh yet spectacular landscapes rich in ancient Aboriginal culture.
Most stop in Alice as it is the gateway to the outback and many tourist attractions such as Uluru.
Stopping in Alice Springs as a base for day trips to the outback is wise as there is not a great deal to do in Alice Springs itself.
Two days will give you plenty of time to take in the beauty of Alice Springs as the town itself it is quite small and not busy at all.
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When to Visit Alice Springs
In winter the Alice Springs temperature is freezing and in summer it’s ridiculous! This is the Australian Outback after all and the weather is harsh.
The ideal time to visit Alice Springs is when the seasons are changing from Summer to Autumn (March) and Winter to Spring (August to September).
During these months, Alice Springs temperature is pleasant during the day and a little cooler at night. Expect day temperatures in the mid 20’s (centigrade) whilst nights can get down to around 10.
If you go during these times you will have no problem doing the various walks around the parks. Many of these walks are closed during the summer months to protect visitors from the heat.
Getting Around Alice Springs
Within the Alice Springs town centre you can easily walk around to visit all the Alice Springs points of interest.
For Alice Springs sights on the city’s outskirts if you don’t have your own transport, I’d recommend getting a taxi or taking public transport.
You can of course join one of the Alice Springs tours to take you around the city sights, but it really is easy and much cheaper to do this yourself.
Where to Stay
This is where all the places to eat in Alice Springs are located, and in the other direction you are close to the shops, bars and a supermarket.
Our room was nice, spacious and reasonably modern with a balcony, TV, fridge and tea and coffee making facilities. There was also a pool in the complex.
Things to do During a 2 Day Stay in Alice Springs
1. Anzac Hill
From the Diplomat Motel it’s around a 20-minute walk to Anzac Hill. It is a short easy walk to reach the top and is the ideal spot for an overview of the town of Alice Springs and the beautiful surrounding ranges.
Also, at the top is a memorial dedicated to all those who have served in protecting their country during all wars in which Australia has participated.
Allow to spend around 30 minutes here.
2. Alice Springs School of Air
From Anzac Hill its an easy 40-minute walk to the Alice Springs School of Air (or take a taxi). This school was established in 1951 to provide an education to children living in remote central Australia. Through film, guided presentations and viewing of real time (or recorded) classes, visitors get a feel for what remote education is like.
Via a viewing room you can see teachers interacting and teaching children via the internet. It’s amazing to see all the technology and innovative techniques that goes into providing the children an education.
Allow to spend around 1 hour here.
3. Alice Springs Telegraph Station
From the Alice Springs School of Air either walk 40 minutes to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station (or take a short taxi ride).
The Telegraph Station is set among some lovely park lands and is one of Alice Spring’s oldest buildings, inside you will find numerous display boards, relics and rooms set up in a bygone era. The tour guides will provide you will some interesting historical information about how Alice Springs became to be as well as the story of how Australia became connected to the rest of the world through telegraph communication in 1872.
Allow to spend a few hours up to half a day here.
4. Royal Flying Doctor Service
Its an easy 10 minute from the hotel to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
This is a great attraction which allows visitors to see the original RFDS working base which commenced in 1939.Through film, display boards, interactive technology and even a replica RFDS, visitors will get an opportunity to see how people living in the remote Australian outback receive medical treatment.
Outside the tourist facility there is a great café and art gallery where you can enjoy some lunch.
For more information including opening times and tours check out their website.
Allow to spend 1 to 2 hours here.
5. Alice Springs Reptile Centre
From the Royal Flying Doctor Service it’s a 5 minute walk to Alice Springs Reptile Centre. We absolutely loved visiting the reptile centre and highly recommend a visit.
The centre features over 100 reptiles including saltwater crocodiles, snakes, lizards, as well as some of the more “unusual” reptiles of the Australian outback such as massive goannas, spiked Thorny Devils and the Frill-necked Lizard. During the day, there are demonstrations and also plenty of opportunities to hold a variety of reptiles.
These demonstrations are on at 11 am, 1 pm and 330 pm daily.
Allow to spend a few hours here.
6. Alice Springs Desert Park
Rather than visiting the Alice Springs Reptile Centre you may wish to visit the Alice Springs Desert Park. This about a 10-minute taxi ride from the city.
The park is set out over 50 hectares in a desert environment and divided up into several main “habitat” areas which are home to over 200 desert animals and 400 plants.
This attraction is a great way for visitors to see the hundreds of plants and animals that can be found across the Central Australian deserts. Spend time in the Nocturnal House where you can spot Central Australian reptiles, invertebrates and rare and endangered animals.
Visitors to the park can hear various presentations on different aspects of Aboriginal culture throughout the day, such as the preparation of traditional Aboriginal bush tucker.
You can also see free-flying birds at the Nature Theatre presentation and an excellent display of trained birds. At night you join the unique experience of searching for locally extinct and endangered species in a predator proof enclosure on a Nocturnal Tour.
Allow at least half a day to explore the Alice Springs Desert Park.
Where to Next
If you have longer than a few days in Alice Springs I would highly recommend the following as day trips or longer to experience the below great attractions of the outback
Whilst it is possible to visit Uluru from Alice Springs in a day, given it take 6.5 hours each way, I highly recommend that you spend at least 1 night near Uluru.
Travel from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock aka Uluru, as early as you can. Spend the afternoon exploring the base of Uluru, then in the evening as the sunsets.
Spend the night at the Ayers Rock Campground and early the next day, watch the sunrise over Uluru and Kata Tjuta.
There are of course plenty of great multiple day tours from Alice Springs to Uluru which you may like to consider if you don’t have your own transport.
Again whilst you can visit the area in a day trip from Alice Springs, it is not recommended.
Estimated to be over 500 million years old, the 32 weathered rock domes that are Kata Tjuta sit 40 kilometres to the west of Uluru/Ayers Rock.
As the day closes to an end around sunset watch as they appear to glow and change colour against the surrounding landscape of the desert. I recommend you do the 7-kilometre circuit walk around Kata Tjuta, whilst it is challenging at times, the views are amazing.
Perhaps one of my all-time favourite places in the red centre was the spectacular Kings Canyon, again it is not recommended you visit Kings Canyon in a day trip from Alice Springs, as it is around 6 hours from Alice, or 4 hours from Uluru. I recommended that after you visit Uluru you head on over the Kings Canyon.
To really experience the Canyon, you must do the 6 kilometre walk – which takes around 4 to 5 hours. Apart from the initial climb up the rim – which is absolute torture, the rest of the walk is flat and easy. I found it way easier than the walk around Kata Tjuta.
If you need a place to stay check out Kings Creek Station, it is located about 30 minutes from Kings Canyon.
West McDonnell Ranges
The MacDonnell Ranges are a fantastic place to explore with its natural beauty with rocky escarpments, gorges and swimming holes.
Whilst the East MacDonnell Ranges are better accessed by those who have time to explore off the beaten track, the West MacDonnell ranges are easily accessible via the West MacDonnell National Park making it one of the best day trips from Alice Springs.
If you have a car you can do this yourself or alternatively you can join one of the Alice Springs day tours.
Check out Melissa’s Thrifty Family Travels Instagram for more great images of the Australian Outback.
Melissa is the creator and writer for the Thrifty Family Travels website; which details her family’s travels both locally and across the globe. Together they travel the world, experience new cultures, indulge in local delicacies, and explore every corner of our beautiful earth, navigating their way around the world. Thrifty Family Travels hope to inspire other families to travel and to show them all the fantastic places the world has to explore.