The Alice, as it's often known, sprang from humble beginnings as a lonely telegraph station on the continent-spanning Overland Telegraph Line more than 140 years ago. Although still famous for its far-flung location, Alice Springs is no longer the frontier settlement of legend. Ignited by the boom in adventure tourism, the insatiable interest in contemporary Aboriginal art and vastly improved access, the modernisation of Alice has been abrupt and confronting. Yet the vast surroundings of red desert and burnished ranges still underscore its remoteness.
This ruggedly beautiful town is shaped by its mythical landscapes, vibrant Aboriginal culture (where else can you hear six uniquely Australian languages in the main street?) and tough pioneering past. The town is a natural base for exploring central Australia, with Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park a relatively close four-hour drive away. The mesmerising MacDonnell Ranges stretch east and west from the town centre, and you don't have to venture far to find yourself among ochre-red gorges, pastel-hued hills and ghostly white gum trees.
To the Arrernte people, the traditional owners of the Alice Springs area, this place is called Mparntwe. The heart of Mparntwe is the junction of the Charles (Anthelke Ulpeye) and Todd (Lhere Mparntwe) Rivers, just north of Anzac Hill (Untyeyetweleye). The topographical features of the town were formed by the creative ancestral beings − known as the Yeperenye, Ntyarlke and Utnerrengatye caterpillars − as they crawled across the landscape from Emily Gap (Anthwerrke), in the MacDonnell Ranges southeast of town. For many travellers, international and Australian, Alice Springs is their first encounter with contemporary Indigenous Australia – with its enchanting art, mesmerising culture and present-day challenges.
Best places to stay in Alice Springs
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Alice Springs destination guides
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