The Top 10 Things to Do and See in Alice Springs

Alice Springs is the third largest town in the Northern Territory, in the centre of Australia. Here, surrounded by desert, you’ll find a town steeped in culture and history, with a range of sights and activities to keep you busy.
Todd Mall Market © Bahnfrend/WikiCommons

Markets at Todd Mall

Todd Mall is the main street in Alice Springs, and holds markets on Sundays once or twice a month. They run from February to December, and offer a huge variety of art, jewellery, local produce, and gifts. You’ll find lots of cafes along Todd Mall too, where you can try some of the local food or stop for a cup of coffee. If you can, go to one of the Night Markets at Todd Mall. Held once a month in the Spring months from August to November, the Night Markets are the best way to ‘shop the Outback’ and you’ll find aboriginal art, jewellery, clothing, and much more. The Night Market is a great place to sample the local food, with a range of different food stalls plating up a range of dishes. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, often with live music, and themed markets to coincide with Alice Springs Events.

Todd Mall, Todd Street, Alice Springs

Larapinta Trail

The Larapinta Trail is one of the finest extended walks in the world, let alone Australia, covering 223km from Alice Springs to Mount Sonder. The trail is split into 12 sections, and covers many famous attractions such as Simpsons Gap, Glen Helen, and Ellery Creek Big Hole. Following the trail, you’ll see lots of Australian wildlife, bush, and gorgeous views of the rugged landscape. Walkers can pick and choose how much of the trail they wish to do, and which sections, ranging from easier 1 day walks, to the full 223km, taking 20 days. It is recommended to walk between April to October, with 2 or more people. If you want a more tailor-made experience, try a Trek Larapinta guide, where you can plan your walk, and find about the history, and nature of the trail from an expert.

Trek Larapinta, PO Box 9043, Alice Springs 1300 133 278

The School of the Air

The School of the Air is the largest classroom in the world, covering more than 1.3 million square kilometres. The school is aimed at reaching those children who live remotely in the outback on cattle stations, and offering them first-rate education. With currently 145 students enrolled at the school, the School of the Air relies solely on satellite technology to deliver lessons. Once relying on two-way radio, the school now uses Interactive Distance Learning, where all students have the equipment and technology to be able to watch their teachers in real time, and interact with both the teacher and other students. The visitor centre is a 30 minute walk from the town centre, and offers an insight into how the school operates, with the chance to watch a live lesson.

80 Head Street, Alice Springs +61 8 8951 6834

Desert Park

Alice Springs’ Desert Park is the best way to see all the Australian desert has to offer, showcasing native animals, flora and culture, all in one setting. The park is divided into different areas, grouping together similar fauna and nature. Highlights include the nocturnal house, where you can see many of Australia’s most illusive nocturnal animals including mammals, birds and reptiles. Just walking along the tracks through the park you’ll see lots of wildlife in their natural habitats. There is strong support from local Aboriginals in the area, with many volunteers giving talks and demonstrations on traditional aboriginal crafts and ways of life. With so much to see at Desert Park, make sure to get there earlier rather than later, so you can enjoy a full day exploring.

Telegraph Station

The Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve is located an easy 4km walk from Todd Mall, and marks the original European settlement in Alice Springs. The Telegraph Station was built in 1871 to relay messages between Adelaide and Darwin, as well as linking with an underwater cable network to London, establishing the first real communication between Australia and England. After 1932, the Telegraph Station was also used for the education of aboriginal children, an army base during World War Two, and an aboriginal reserve. Today you can visit the original buildings, furnished as they would have been in the 19th century, and learn about the history of the site. The Reserve is also home to natural wildlife, and there are many walks you can take from the Telegraph Station to admire the surrounding landscape and find the Spring for which the town is named after.

Herbert Heritage Dr, Alice Springs (08) 8952 3993

Aboriginal Australia Art & Culture Centre

The Aboriginal Art & Culture Centre is the perfect place to learn more about the aboriginal population in Alice Springs and their history. The Arrernte people lived in the area of Alice Springs before European migrants appeared, and aboriginal locals are actively involved in showing visitors the history of their people. At the Art and Culture Centre you will have the chance to meet Aboriginal people and learn directly from them, as well as tours including a bushwalk, dance performances, and didgeridoo lessons.

08 8952 3408

Kangaroo Sanctuary

At the Kangaroo Sanctuary, just outside of Alice Springs, visitors can get up close and personal with Australia’s most famous marsupials. The Sanctuary, originally created for the care of orphaned joeys, came to attention when used for the BBC2 documentary ‘Kangaroo Dundee’. Owner Brolga still runs the Sanctuary today, and you will travel to his home with the kangaroos on one of the tours of the sanctuary. Tours are in small groups, and take place at sunset in the large, wildlife reserve, lasting around 2 and a half hours. You will learn about the animals’ eating habits, behaviour, and first-hand accounts of their personalities, whilst also getting the chance to feed and pet the kangaroos. A highlight for many is the chance to hold and feed a joey, with this photo being a great souvenir for many.

12 Ghan Road, Alice Springs 08 8953 0127

Olive Pink Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden
The Olive Pink Botanical Garden is a 40 acre garden in the middle of Alice Springs, showcasing the native flora of Australia’s Northern Territory. The Garden was founded in 1956 by Miss Olive Pink, an anthropologist, aboriginal justice-fighter, artist, and passionate gardener. Today the Garden is a great place to learn about some of the native plants in the area, and is a relaxing way to spend your day. The garden has many walks and self-guided tours where you can learn about the plants and flora, and from Annie Myers Hill, there are great views of Alice Springs, Todd River, and the MacDonnell Ranges. Wildlife enthusiasts will find the Garden the perfect place for wildlife and birdwatching, as the Garden is home to over 80 bird species.
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Sounds of Starlight Theatre

The Sounds of Starlight Theatre is located on Todd Mall, and was opened by didgeridoo expert Andrew Langford in 1996. By day, the Theatre is open to visitors looking to learn about the didgeridoo and how to play it, as well as serving as a gallery showcasing the art and culture of Central Australia. From April to November, Langford’s ‘The Didgeridoo Show Outback’ takes place at the Theatre, an impressive show where Langford and other musicians tell stories of the Outback and aboriginal myths and tales in the form of music. The show is supported with fantastic imagery from Mike Gillam, to make the show a sensory adventure into the desert.

Camel Ride

Whilst Camels might not be the first animal to spring to mind when thinking about Australia, they are in fact one of the most common animals in the outback, Australia even being home to the worlds largest herd of camels. Introduced in the 19th century from Arabia, Afghanistan and India, camels are now synonymous with Central Australia and the outback. A camel ride is not only a fun and memorable activity, but it’s also a great way to see the outback, especially at sunset. There are many different tours offering camel rides, so look around, but Pyndan Camel Tracks is located just outside of Alice Springs and are especially good, offering a range of different tours.
By Sarah Lawrence