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Image Source: Tourism NT/Matt Glastonbury

Alice Springs is the perfect base from which to explore the heart of Central Australia. Whether you are looking for a simple road trip or a some more hardcore 4WD exploration, there are so many attractions within an easy day's drive.

Just a short trip are Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm, the first highlights of the dramatic West MacDonnell Range. As you head further west you'll find even more spectacular gorges and intriguing sites like the Ochre Pits.

Continue exploring beyond the West MacDonnell Ranges to the astounding Kings Canyon. Even a short walk here gives amazing views over the sheer sandstone cliffs, but a helicopter tour gives the best views of these astounding rock formations.

Although not as well known as their western counterpart, the East MacDonnell Range is another destination jam-packed with amazing formations, like Emily and Jesse gaps, and significant Aboriginal sites. If you have more time, you can venture off the seal and explore the historic buildings at Arltunga.

It's a bit of a drive up the Stuart Highway to reach Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles but well worth the effort to see these dramatic boulders. The red glow of sunset really brings these granite formations to life. On the drive north you'll pass the giant sculptures at Aileron and the unique UFO Centre at Wycliffe Well.

An easy drive south along the highway is Henbury Meteorite Craters. There's an easy walk around the 12 craters to discover the impact of the meteorite crash about 4900 years ago. While you're in the area, book in to enjoy a camel ride through the arid landscape at Stuarts Well.

Only an hour's drive south of Alice Springs, Rainbow Valley is certainly worth the minor discomfort of the rough dirt access road off the Stuart Highway. As with a lot of the Red Centre's geological attractions, the magnificent red and ochre-coloured sandstone here really looks its best in the golden rays of a remarkable outback sunset.

The truly adventurous can tackle the unsealed road to Chambers Pillar, past the rock carvings at Ewaninga and relics of the Old Ghan Railway. The track in to this striking sandstone pillar is definitely 4WD-only.