A visit to Australia isn’t complete without experiencing the iconic Red Centre. Here you’ll find an insight towards Australia’s rich history and incredible culture, perfect for all types of travellers. Alice Springs is the third largest town in the NT; yet remains as a small, quaint town, and a great base nonetheless to explore Australia’s natural wonders.
Alice Springs is in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia and sits almost directly in the centre of the continent. If you’re planning on visiting this part of Australia, be prepared to make the journey. Alice Springs is very remote and has no other major city nearby, with both Darwin and Adelaide sitting at equal distances to the town – 1,500 kilometres away. The drive is 16 hours in total, or about a day and a half. Otherwise, from Sydney, the drive is 2,776 kilometres, and it takes about three days in total. All Australian cities have direct flights into town for a faster alternative too; otherwise for the scenic option take the Ghan Train from Adelaide, a one night, two-day adventure.
As the buildings begin to fade in the distance from the edge of the town centre, long roads lead you out to the dusty ochre red desert as far as the eye can see. Mountain ranges bordering the skyline and massive rocks that look like they’ve been handpicked and placed in the open desert lay still. Wildlife like red kangaroos and cockatoos are in abundance, bringing to life every traveller’s picture perfect fantasy of Australia.
You could easily spend up to two weeks exploring the surroundings of Alice Springs, due to the expansive outback and natural attractions. However, if you’re pressed for time, about three nights will suffice. For many, the best time of year to visit the Red Centre is in Australia’s winter, which is from June to August, when the weather starts to cools down. However as this is the region’s peak tourist season, if you want to avoid the crowds then consider visiting in shoulder seasons, either May or September. In the hotter months from October to February temperatures during the day can be quite unbearable and you’ll find desert flies buzzing about, but if you’re willing to put up with the heat you’ll have the place to yourself, with far less travellers around.
Alice Springs is an excellent base for those wanting to visit Uluru and to explore the West MacDonnell Ranges. The Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a must visit and here you’ll find Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) sacred sandstone rock formations which are millions of years old. The town remains about 460 kilometres away from Uluru or about a four and a half hour drive. If you’re visiting for a day considering spending the night in Uluru to truly explore the landscape and see the colours of the morning light reflect off.
The West MacDonnell Ranges has an array of incredible native plant species and animals along with beautiful swimming holes for you to explore. Stop at Ellery Creek Big Hole and Ormiston Gorge for a cool off and watch the sunset over Glen Helen Gorge as the sky fills with pastel colours.
If you choose to spend an extended time in Alice Springs, the town has two major supermarkets and many fast food chains and restaurants. There are a few different accommodation options suitable for a variety of budgets. Lasseters Casino has four restaurants, four bars and a nightclub along with hotel accommodation; otherwise, you can camp in town at the Alice Springs Tourist Park with shady camping spots and facilities to use. When it comes to dining, Alice Springs has a mix of fine dining options and casual pubs and bars to explore.
Depending on the time of year you choose to visit, the temperate can differ significantly. In summer (November to February) the temperature can average from 36°C to 40 °C while in the winter months (June to August) the temperature sits between a moderate 18 to 20°C.
In the winter months at night, the temperature can drop below freezing and morning frost appears. Rainfall is quite low here; however the weather can vary. Due to the constant change in weather, make sure you pack warm clothes for the evening, as often the temperate drops dramatically, true desert style.
Whether it’s a road trip or a guided tour, Alice Springs is well connected to a variety of adventures so you can spend time uncovering what the Red Centre of Australia has to offer.