Arltunga Historical Reserve

Top choice historic site in East MacDonnell Ranges

At the eastern end of the MacDonnell Ranges, 110km east of Alice Springs, the old gold-mining ghost town of Arltunga (33km on an unsealed road from the Ross Hwy) has lonely ruins and a wonderful end-of-the-road feel. Old buildings, a couple of cemeteries and the many deserted mine sites in this parched landscape give visitors an idea of what life was like for the miners.

The unstaffed visitor information centre has old photographs of the gold-extracting process, plus a slide show on the area's history as well as drinking water and toilets. There's plenty of birdlife in the surrounding area and the mulga parrot, one of the Australia's loveliest parrot species, has been spotted right next to the visitor centre.

The ruins lie scattered in the surrounding country and a gravel road leads beyond the visitor centre to the old police station (1.9km from the visitor centre) and the eight buildings that make up the government works (1.8km beyond the police station); the latter inhabit a lovely open valley 200m from the car park. It's possible to walk between the old police station and the government works (1km, 15 minutes one way).