Top free things to do in and around Alice Springs

Girl having a picnic in the desert
Top free things to do in and around Alice Springs - Image Source: Tourism NT/Chloe Barry Hang

It has been said that the best things in life are free, which is excellent news for the budget travellers amongst us. Fortunately, Alice Springs has plenty of fantastic free activities on offer – here is a selection of the best.

ANZAC Hill

Take a short walk to the top of ANZAC Hill and you will be rewarded with unrivalled 360-degree views of Alice Springs and the stunning MacDonnell Ranges. Take some time to appreciate the ANZAC Hill Memorial, dedicated to those who fought for their country, and the memorial wall of plaques.

Image Source: Tourism NT/Matt Cherubino

Picnic by the original Alice Springs

Alice Springs was originally the name given to a waterhole, which the town eventually took its name from. It’s set amongst the Telegraph Station Historical Reserve, with a large grassy area which is ideal for picnics and BBQs as well as being the starting point of several bushwalking and mountain biking trails.

Image Source: Tourism NT/Peter Eve

Olive Pink Botanic Garden

Wander through scenic gardens along a network of walking trails lined with an impressive collection of 600 Central Australian plants. Look out for kangaroos and birds.

Visit some art galleries

Aboriginal art is extremely significant to the culture of Central Australia, and as such Alice Springs is home to plenty of galleries, many of which offer free entry. Take a walk through and admire the work of talented artists from Central Australia and beyond.

Stargazing

Alice Springs is undoubtedly one of the best places in Australia for stargazing, with clear skies and very little light pollution. Whilst specialised stargazing locations offer telescopes and knowledgeable guides, you can stargaze for free wherever you choose – simply sit back and look up at the serene night sky.

Image Source: Tourism NT/Matt Glastonbury

Bushwalking in the West MacDonnell Ranges

The spectacular West MacDonnell Ranges are home to plenty of scenic bushwalking trails through landscapes like no other. There’s no shortage of short walks, however, for the ambitious amongst us, there is also the 223KM Larapinta Trail, which begins at the Telegraph Station and ends at the peak of Mount Sonder. This is only recommended for those who have a high level of physical fitness and requires planning and preparation beforehand.

Go swimming

Paying to use a swimming pool is not necessary in Alice Springs. Simply venture into the MacDonnell Ranges and jump into a natural waterhole. Ellery Creek, Ormiston Gorge, and Glen Helen Gorge are all delightful places for a dip. Do your research beforehand, as some waterholes are permanent whilst others sometimes dry up, and some are sacred which means that swimming is prohibited.

Visit the East MacDonnell Ranges

A trip to the East MacDonnell Ranges is just as worthwhile. Discover intriguing Aboriginal rock art, Aboriginal sacred sites, scenic short walks, and lovely swimming holes at Trephina Gorge and John Hayes Waterhole.

Free events

Check out the vibrant Alice Springs calendar to discover a plethora of lively events and festivals, many of which are free to attend. Time your visit to coincide with Parrtjima, an Aboriginal light festival, or the quirky and unique Beanie Festival.