The best of Alice Springs

When I wrote about the excellent Alice Station Bed and Breakfast in Alice Springs, Deb the owner was so glowing in her praise of the Northern Territory town of Alice Springs, that I just had to do another article highlighting Deb’s views and recommendations about what to see and do in Alice Springs, and here are a few of her comments:

“Without having to travel out to an Aboriginal community, visitors can drop into art centres in Alice Springs to watch local Aboriginal artists at work. My pick would be Ngurratjuta (Many Hands) Art Centre on Wilkinson Street where visitors can also buy direct.
If visitors do have time to go out to an Aboriginal Community, the Keringke Art Centre in Santa Teresa Community is only 1 hour drive from Alice Springs on a well maintained dirt road. The works produced are mind blowing and it is a nice chance to meet some very talented Aboriginal artists and ask questions direct.  It is really worth the drive. Note: most art centres operate only Monday to Friday.

The Araluen Arts Centre in the cultural precinct houses an impressive permanent collection of local indigenous and non-indigenous art and hosts some excellent temporary exhibitions. It’s a bit of a hidden gem and a brilliant place to visit when the weather is too hot or too cold for being outside.

– The most famous place for a scenic view of the town is ANZAC Hill and that’s where the crowds go at sunset. Less well known is the short climb to the top of the hill inside the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens (Tunks Road). You can see the whole town and there’s hardly ever anyone else up there. The natural setting is beautiful. I love it up there.

– Actually, Olive Pink Botanic Gardens is a winner for a number of reasons, not just for its pleasant nature strolls. The cafe is one of my favourite places for lunch. It’s tucked away out of sight and generally frequented just by locals.  The gardens also regularly host art exhibitions and on weekend evenings there are often films or musicians playing under the stars. Check the local paper for what’s on.

– The MacDonnell Ranges National Park doesn’t get nearly enough acclaim. Close to Alice Springs, it’s a stunning destination for hiking, swimming and camping . My very favourite spot in the ranges is the permanent waterhole at Ormiston Gorge in the Western MacDonnells.  A freshwater swimming hole surrounded by immense rocky red gorge walls. The colours are intense. In summer to be floating in the water and looking up at the gorge walls is absolute bliss. In winter, it is a brilliant spot for hiking and the views are spectacular.

– In the Eastern MacDonnells, Emily Gap is only 10 minutes drive from town. For anyone short on time, it is a good introduction to the scenery of the region, plus there are Aboriginal rock paintings part way down the gorge. It is the only place I know of to see rock paintings so close to Alice Springs. Further down the main road, Trephina Gorge is my favourite picnic spot in the region. As most tourists head to the Western MacDonnells one can avoid the crowds by heading east.

– When time permits, I like to go for a stroll just before sunset at the Telegraph Station Reserve. The Bradshaw Walk is a 45-60 minute stroll through bushland. You’re 5 minutes drive from the centre of town but it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Even if I can’t get out there, frequently recommend it to guests. Late afternoon, there are almost always wild kangaroos to be spotted.

– The free didgeridoo lessons at the Sounds of Starlight Theatre in Todd Mall (Monday to Friday, 10:30am and 2:30pm) are easily the best deal in town! Lessons go for half an hour.

– If dates are flexible, watch out for some of the cultural festivals on around Alice Springs. The Wide Open Spaces music festival, the Beanie Festival, the Alice Springs Desert Festival. They’re well organised, culturally interesting events and less well known than the long running events such as the Henley on Todd or the Camel Cup.”

Deb is a local who just loves Alice Springs, which is one reason why you should stay at her Alice Station B&B, because by just talking to Deb you’ll get the best information about what to see and do in The Alice.

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